A Statement on DACA

9/6/2017

Colleagues:  I commend to you this excellent piece from TJ Harper and Kelly Gallagher regarding the recent decision on DACA.  - Connecticut Conference Minister The Rev. Kent J. Siladi
 
 


Kelly Gallagher
& TJ Harper
The following statement was prepared by The Rev. Kelly Gallagher, Massachusetts Associate Conference Minister, and TJ Harper, Racial Justice Associate for the Massachusetts and Connecticut Conferences.

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." ~ Matthew 19:14

In 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was instituted as a way to begin to acknowledge that a large number of our citizens are people brought here as children without documentation or access to resources.  Children do not have a say when they are asked to do something by their parents. Children are dependent upon their parents to provide, and be the rational voice in their lives. Thus, when parents illegally crossed the border, or sent their children across to enter into the United States, the children simply did what they were asked; they went where they were told. In many, perhaps most cases, the lives of these children were saved by the illegal action of their parents. While these children grew, went to school, obtained jobs, became teachers and doctors and joined the military - we as a country failed to acknowledge their presence. They were numbers in the growing population of undocumented citizens - and they are contributing members of this society.  

In an act of clarity, truth and compassion, the previous White House Administration created this program, DACA, a covenant between the US government and those undocumented people. The covenant said: “If you give me your identity and pay taxes, like US citizens, then you will be authorized to work in America and attend its educational institutions. You will be able to build a better life for your family.” Those who consented to the DACA program entrusted our government to honor its word.

The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God. ~ Leviticus 19:34

On September 5th, 2017 that covenant was broken: The current Administration announced it would be rescinding DACA, with a six-month delay. Eight-hundred thousand people who trusted our government were let down.  Eight-hundred thousand people who were trying to better their lives were told they might soon face deportation. Eight-hundred thousand people were told they might be forced to live in a country they have never seen. There is no easy solution in determining the best path for undocumented immigrants, but it starts with kindness. This action that will negatively impact well over a million people - as families are torn apart, children left without parents, partners separated, businesses and schools deprived of workers and students - this is not kind. Naming people as “illegal aliens” is not kind. Announcing such a decision without care or advance notice - and in the face of huge public protest and outcry  - is not kind.  

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.  Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. ~  Proverbs 31:8-9
 
Photo by Slowking, Wikimedia Commons
As people of faith, as followers of the resurrected Christ, we must not give up. There is still work we can do - and the time is now! The most important part of the statement rescinding DACA is the six-month window for Congress to write and pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill before DACA is completely ended. Congress is currently legislating several major issues such as extending the debt ceiling to avoid a government shutdown and emergency relief funding for Hurricane Harvey residents. Congress’ inability to come to agreement on these issues are what precipitated the creation of DACA five years ago. We are facing a Goliath - but we know how that story goes. We cannot let this six-month window pass us. There are hundreds of thousands of people who need our help. We -- every one of us -- must advocate on behalf of those who have tried to advocate for themselves to no avail.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race God has set before us. ~ Hebrews 12:1


Actions you can take to help:

  1. Webinar: Faith Communities Mobilize to Stop the Ban and Defend Dreamers & TPS
    1. Join the Interfaith Immigration Coalition - Monday, September 11 at 4 PM EST to learn how to keep protections in place for refugees and immigrants like DACA recipients and TPS holders. RSVP Here
  2. Locate and contact federal government officials (mainly US Representatives & Senators)
    1. Find them on usa.gov 
  3. For a list of local DACA-related events, sign up for the United We Dream "community calls" by texting the word "DACACall" to 877-877 (Source: Huffington Post).
  4. Donate to United We Dream
    1. United We Dream is the "largest immigrant youth-led organization in the country." They organize and advocate for all young immigrants, regardless of whether or not they are here legally. United We Dream was integral to the initial success of DACA. (Source: Bustle)