- Press Release
- Immigrants & Refugees
Faith Leaders Oppose Rescinding Critical Program for Immigrant Youth
Urge Congress to Pass Dream Act of 2017
Faith leaders from various traditions stand united in opposition to the President’s decision, and in support of DACA-recipients. Faith communities across the country urge Members of Congress to stand in solidarity with immigrant youth and support an immediate, clean passage of S.1615/H.R.3440, the Dream Act of 2017.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, D.C. – Today, the Trump administration has announced an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, turning our nation’s back on undocumented immigrant youth who are valued members of our communities. The consequences of ending DACA are immediate, devastating, and profound. No new DACA applications filed after today will be considered, and current DACA recipients will see their protection revoked starting in six months. DACA has protected nearly 800,000 immigrant youth from deportation and allowed them to work, attend school, and raise a family. DACA’s termination puts these lives at risk, threatens the sanctity of family unity, and jeopardizes our economy with the loss of more than $460 billion in GDP over the course of 10 years and the removal of 685,000 workers from the workforce.
Please find below statements from 27 faith leaders and leading faith organizations.
Dina Siegel Vann, Director of American Jewish Committee (AJC) Belfer Institute for Latino and Latin American Affairs: “From its founding in 1906, AJC (American Jewish Committee) has been a strong voice in support of fair and generous treatment of immigrants. Our own experiences as strangers and immigrants, and our responsibilities to our faith, ancestors, and society, obligate us to support a system of incorporating immigrants that is both just and consistent with humanitarian values. AJC continues to reaffirm its commitment to fair and generous immigration policies, as fundamentally good for the United States and consistent with Jewish values.
“DACA is a pragmatic solution for a small portion of the millions awaiting common sense policies to fix our broken immigration system. Welcoming, not penalizing, these young people is in consonance with foundational principles and the best traditions that have made America an exceptional and exemplary nation. Rescinding DACA is a significant setback in our long and arduous quest for generous and constructive inclusiveness. DACA should not only be upheld, but expanded until a permanent and comprehensive legislation is put into place.”
Archbishop John Wester, Archdiocese of Santa Fe: "I hope and pray that the president works with Congress to protect them and give them a chance to become Americans."
Rev. David Beckmann, President, Bread for the World: “The economy and moral value of our nation are tied to how we treat immigrants. It is now up to Congress to fix what President Trump has undone. The young people who have been protected from deportation by DACA are going to school, serving in our military, and making significant contributions to the economy. As a Christian organization, Bread for the World will continue to advocate for laws and policies that ensure they have a place at the table.”
Rev. Terri Hord Owens, General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the U.S. and Canada: “I mourn for the wound that is opened in the hearts of the more than three quarters of a million youth and young adults who, with their families, grieve because of the President’s unwillingness to maintain the work sustaining and education encouraging and community supporting DACA program. DACA recipients are our neighbors in nearly every community. They are our classmates in nearly every college, university, and seminary. They are our friends in our workplaces--sometimes whether we know it or not. And they are key leaders in our churches; brave and faithful and full of determination to contribute consistently to build up the strength of their families and neighborhoods and congregations. Our relationships with these fine young people and their families help us to fulfill our call to welcome the sojourner and experience unity among the diverse tapestry of communities in our church and nation.
“Therefore, the President’s willingness to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program without certainty of legislative action to protect those who have come forward to receive DACA status seeks to bully the breath from their life hope, and to browbeat our efforts to follow scripture’s command for hospitality. Likewise, TPS recipients are our church pastors, leaders, and strength from Haitian, Salvadorans, and other backgrounds. Therefore, threats from the administration to eliminate TPS for vulnerable populations are unmerciful. They harm our faith family directly and seek to replace the economic healing and health offered through TPS with danger and even potential death if recipients are deported to disastrous conditions in their homeland.
“DACA and TPS recipients have followed the calling of God in Jeremiah 27:9 to ‘seek the welfare of the city to where I send you;’ and our faith compels us likewise to support the well being and healing of those who offer their gifts generously to our nation. We therefore urge immediate passage of The DREAM Act of 2017 by Congress which would offer stability to the lives of immigrant leaders, and we are committed to continuing work for compassionate immigration reforms that can support family unity, offer a stable future to hardworking immigrants, and enable them to fully utilize their God-granted gifts without fears of deportation.”
Steve Timmermans, Executive Director, Christian Reformed Church in North America: “As followers of Jesus, we deeply lament the pain and fear that so many young immigrants are experiencing in the wake of the President's decision to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. In Scripture, God's call to ‘welcome the stranger’ is clear and unequivocal -- and so is the truth that ‘the stranger’ often brings a blessing. DREAMers have brought enormous blessings to our churches and communities, our neighborhoods and economies. We are grieving over the termination of DACA, and the loss of the critical protections it gave. We call on Congress to pass laws that protect the dignity of immigrants, that reflect the blessing immigrants bring to the United States, and that reflect the truth that God's desire for all people is flourishing.”
The Rev. John L. McCullough, President and CEO of Church World Service: “It is deeply disappointing and hurtful to see that our President has decided to turn his back on hardworking and deserving immigrant youth and members of our congregations. Communities of faith believe in our call to welcome our immigrant brothers and sisters. By rescinding DACA, President Trump has done the exact opposite. CWS calls on the faith community to condemn this shameful and unacceptable position and work side-by-side with DREAMers to realize the welcome God commands us to fulfill.”
Scott Wright, Director, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach: “Columbans stand firmly against today’s decision from the administration to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The administration’s action to terminate the DACA program is unconscionable. Today’s decision benefits no one, but instead puts the futures of 800,000 members of our communities at risk. As children of the Gospel, we honor God’s call to welcome the stranger and uphold family unity. Ending the DACA program flies in the face of both. Columbans in the United States and around the world will continue to walk arm-in-arm with our migrant sisters and brothers, knowing by the light of faith that human dignity is more essential than legal status.”
The Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: “We are saddened today by the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provided relief from deportation to young people that have grown up as members of our churches, as neighbors playing with our children, and enriching our communities. We pray today for those that will suffer undue repercussions due to the end of this program. As Lutheran Christians, we regard the family as an indispensable social institution and stand firmly against policies that cause the separation of families.
“As we lament this change in policy, we call on Members of Congress to pass long overdue legislation to protect young people brought to the U.S. as children, also known as Dreamers. Our churches, our schools, our communities and the country are enhanced by their presence and contributions. It is time that our immigration policy reflects their gifts to all of us.”
Sr. Margaret Magee O.S.F., Franciscan Action Network President: “On January 17, 2016, Pope Francis stated in his message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees that, ‘Each of us is responsible for his or her neighbour: we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, wherever they live. Concern for fostering good relationships with others and the ability to overcome prejudice and fear are essential ingredients for promoting the culture of encounter…’ In unity with Pope Francis and living out our Franciscan charism that sees all people as our sisters and brother, we stand in support of DACA and especially of the many, many young women and men who have embraced the dreams and the ideals of American freedom, integrity, and justice for all people. Franciscan Action Network (FAN) opposes any decisions and actions that creates a culture of fear and endangers the lives and future of these young people and their families. Let us be instruments of peace, justice, and integrity of all life and all creation.”
Diane Randall, Executive Secretary of the Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quakers): “President Trump’s decision to rescind DACA because of a threat from ten states is cruel and unnecessary. Nearly 800,000 people’s lives will now drastically be altered in an endeavor to satisfy a campaign promise. This move puts millions of immigrants and their families in jeopardy and it does nothing to make America great. DACA has been effective in ensuring that young people who are already part of the fabric of our society have the opportunity to work and pursue their dreams. As demonstrated by DACA-recipients, immigrants, including those who are undocumented, have consistently been essential to the economic and social strength of this nation. Our hearts are heavy for all DACA-recipients, their families and the communities who have come to know them as neighbors and friends. We are holding them in Love, and Light, and prayer.
“We call on Congress to speak up and act to protect DACA recipients from detention or deportation by passing a clean bipartisan Dream Act of 2017. FCNL and Quakers across the country stand in solidarity with the undocumented community and other vulnerable immigrants. Congress can pursue tangible, workable solutions for all people who meaningfully and equitably contribute to U.S. communities.”
“DACA recognized these children for who they are: Americans in everything but paperwork,” said Mark Hetfield, President and CEO of HIAS, the global Jewish nonprofit that protects refugees. “Their hopes and dreams are no different from kids who are born here and there is no legitimate reason for inflicting this needless suffering on these children.
“Like generations of immigrants before, including millions of Jewish parents and grandparents, the parents of these kids have made enormous sacrifices, not for themselves, but in the hope that their children would have a chance at a real future,” said Hetfield. “The president has extinguished the American dream for many thousands of people today, as he continues to reverse course on the American tradition of welcoming immigrants and refugees.”
Melanie Nezer, HIAS’ Senior Vice President for Public Affairs, added: “We must restore basic fairness and morality to the way we treat immigrants in this country, and there is no better place to start than with these young Americans. These are kids who went to school, made friends, joined teams, grew up, enlisted in the military, went to college, went to work, volunteered, and lived normal, American lives. Congress must immediately pass a law that will allow these kids to stay here legally and permanently, and send a message that their contributions to our society have not been for nothing.”
Christopher Kerr, Executive Director, Ignatian Solidarity Network: “The Ignatian Solidarity Network stands with undocumented young people whose dignity was undermined today when the Trump Administration ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
“Through our work in partnership with Jesuit schools and parishes across the country, we continue to hear stories of how DACA recipients who enrich their communities. We have witnessed firsthand the contributions that DACA recipients in our Ignatian network make as campus and community leaders. However, it is these same recipients who have shared with us tremendous fear regarding their ability to complete their education and pursue careers, their safety as well as the safety of their families, and the opportunity to remain part of communities that they have called home and contributed to for a significant portion of their lives.
“Today, and all days, Ignatian Solidarity Network stands with undocumented young people and we call on our political leaders to sustain the goals of DACA, while working for long-term comprehensive immigration reform that respects the dignity of all those who migrate.”
Fr. Timothy Kesicki, SJ, President, Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States: “I am deeply disappointed by President Trump's decision to revoke the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and concerned about the impact of this decision on so many of our immigrant brothers and sisters. The Dreamers are woven into our Jesuit schools and we have seen firsthand the challenges and the adversity they have faced — but we have also witnessed their great faith and courage. I urge President Trump and members of Congress to act quickly to develop policies that honor the dignity of our undocumented brothers and sisters, that welcome their full participation in our communities and that ensure family unity.”
Joan Marie Steadman, CSC, Executive Director, Leadership Conference of Women Religious: “The Leadership Conference of Women Religious is deeply disappointed by the President Trump’s decision to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DACA has provided a common sense path to stability for families, communities, and local economies and a reaffirmation of the values upon which this nation was founded. Ending DACA will cause irreparable harm to families and communities and force 800,000 of our young people back into the shadows.
“As women of faith we take seriously the gospel call to welcome the stranger and care for those in need. Together with people of goodwill we will continue to work to ensure that the dignity of our immigrant brothers and sisters is fully protected. We call on Congress to immediately take up and pass the bipartisan Dream Act of 2017.”
Lawrence Couch, Director, National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd: “Mr. President, we regret that you have betrayed the hopes and aspirations of the DACA youth. It is highly unfortunate that you have taken this action. They deserved better. DACA has provided a wonderful opportunity for bright, dedicated young people to develop their skills and further their education. We should welcome the gifts these young people are eager to bring to our society.
“Congress now must do its duty and quickly pass the DREAM Act. We thank Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois for working together across the aisle to bring back this bill. We pledge to work with them and others to help get this legislation passed into law and hope that both parties see these young people and their circumstances through a nonpartisan lens and work in a bipartisan fashion for passage, erasing permanently any doubt that these young people may have as to their future.”
Nancy K. Kaufman, CEO National Council of Jewish Women: “NCJW supports Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which has enabled almost 800,000 young people escape the threat of deportation. President Trump’s decision to end this program threatens the emotional, social, and economic stability for millions of individuals, and tears at the fabric of our communities. As Jews, we know intimately what it is like to flee religious persecution and be strangers in a strange land as immigrants and refugees. We condemn the decision to end DACA, and our work will not end until the millions of immigrant children, parents, workers, and DREAMers in our country have the opportunity they deserve to live, work, and stay in the US with their families.”
Rob Rutland-Brown, Executive Director, National Justice for Our Neighbors: “National Justice for Our Neighbors and the entire Justice for Our Neighbors network have felt a close connection to those with DACA ever since the program began in 2012. They are not only our clients, but our board members, staff, partners, friends, and family. Our future is intertwined with theirs, our country enriched by their many contributions. We are appalled at President Trump’s decision to revoke DACA. Despite this news, we will fight alongside immigrants and our allies to provide a permanent welcome for undocumented immigrant youth who know only America as their home, allowing them to fully integrate into our communities and pursue the American dream.”
Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice: “Immigrant and refugee families are part of the fabric of our community - full members of our schools, our workplaces, and our places of worship. Our faith calls us to value, welcome, and protect families, not to tear them apart. NETWORK Lobby opposes the actions taken today by the Trump Administration. They are mean-spirited and fail to recognize the dignity of our immigrant sisters and brothers. We look to Congress to uphold family values by protecting DREAMers AND their families. Congress must take the reasonable road by implementing the safeguards our communities need in an unstable Trump presidency.”
Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II - Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.): “Young people in our congregations and in our communities benefit from Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). They are able to work, go to school, and dream the dreams that are only possible when one’s future is secure and not threatened by the uncertainty of a looming deportation. I pray for a U.S. where all children can continue to dream, unfettered by politics and posturing, where we recognize that when one of us is lifted up, we all are lifted up. I grieve the President’s decision to steal the dreams of hundreds of thousands of our friends and neighbors, but I also take heart in knowing that Presbyterian congregations stand ready to provide support and protection in the wake of this devastating decision.”
Sister Patricia McDermott, President, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas: “Today’s announcement by the Trump Administration to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program represents an historic injustice and a violation of the human dignity of over 800,000 young people, while diminishing us all as a nation. DACA was put in place by the previous Administration after repeated failures in Congress to pass just, comprehensive immigration reform. Although President Trump had pledged to treat DACA recipients “with heart,” his decision to end DACA is deeply troubling. This action undermines our nation's professed values of fairness, welcome and compassion.
“We will not stand by as DACA recipients, as well as other undocumented immigrants and vulnerable groups, are blamed for the economic and social problems facing this country. We will continue to pray and stand in solidarity with immigrant communities, and work to end the cruel systems of detention and deportation.”
Rev. Jim Wallis, Founder and President of Sojourners: “Jesus says welcome the stranger. Donald Trump has just said ‘no’ to this clear call from Christ in his decision to turn away 800,000 young Dreamers who were brought to this country by their parents when they were children - and who have no other home. Shame on you President Trump for your lack of compassion and for once again playing racial politics by appealing to fear and hate in your political base. Shame on you. Even some of your religious advisors asked you not to deport these children. This action will unite many of us in the faith community to oppose this injustice and you. We will defend the Dreamers and our fellow believers in Jesus Christ. We will battle you for their lives and with our faith. And we will take our unity in Christ to the Congress to obstruct your cruelty. We will take our anger and disappointment and put our faith into action by focusing on radical welcome and protection for all families threatened by this decision. We will redouble our efforts to urge Congress to do the right thing and to pass comprehensive immigration reform that includes protection for Dreamers.”
Rabbi Jill Jacobs, Executive Director, T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights: “We condemn the reversal of DACA as a devastating blow to the 800,000 young people (and their families) who live, study, and work here as members of our communities. In rescinding the program, the federal government is using DREAMers for the political agenda of terrifying every undocumented immigrant in our country. Jewish tradition teaches, "'Love your neighbor as yourself' (Lev. 19:18). This is the most important rule in the Torah." As faith leaders, it is our moral duty to speak out when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) attacks our neighbors with cruel and unjust policies, and we will continue to stand up for immigrants, bringing the Torah of justice to the doorstep of President Trump and ICE.”
Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and Senior Vice President, Union for Reform Judaism: “President Trump’s decision to end the DACA program is morally misguided and poor public policy. The contributions of DACA recipients – young people brought to this country by their parents and who lack citizenship through no fault of their own – make our country stronger. They go to school, serve in the military, and contribute to our economy openly. The DACA program has allowed them to do so without the constant fear of deportation. The President is wrong to once again place these individuals at risk of deportation.
“As Jews, our people have known the experience of being ‘strangers in strange lands.’ Our past reminds us of the struggles faced by so many immigrants today. Because of this history, Judaism demands that we welcome the stranger and compels us to work for a just immigration system. It is imperative that Congress step up in support of these young people who grew up in the United States and who want to give back to the only country they know as home. We call on Congress to protect DACA recipients from deportation by immediately passing a clean bipartisan Dream Act of 2017 – and on the President to support it.”
Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer, General Minister and President, United Church of Christ: "The United Church of Christ has a long history, seen in our General Synod Resolutions, of supporting and welcoming immigrants in our midst, which is part of our moral responsibility as people of faith. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program is a tremendous achievement that has created relief from deportation and work opportunities for nearly 1 million young undocumented people who are part of our communities and our congregations. We are extremely disappointed by the Trump Administration's intentions to roll back DACA, but are united in our faith to renew and recommit in this struggle for justice alongside the undocumented community.”
Unitarian Universalist Association President, the Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray: “Once again, the Trump Administration is going after families and communities by ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Our broken immigration system has repeatedly been revealed as one of economic exploitation that benefits from the labor of immigrants without recognizing their dignity and humanity, nor that of their children. It is an immoral and unjust system. DACA sought to redress some of the suffering and injustice of the system by creating a way for young people who came to this country as children to live and work without fear of deportation. DACA has dramatically changed the lives of more than 1 million young people. These young people are not statistics, they are members and leaders of their communities, they are parents and family members, they are friends and neighbors and loved ones throughout this country. I can personally attest to the incredible positive difference that removing the threat of deportation and creating a legal path to work creates in the life and spirit of an individual and family.
“In rescinding DACA, President Trump is playing politics with people’s lives. This is immoral and unacceptable. To turn back on DACA is turn our backs on these young people and this must not be tolerated and must be met with organized resistance.
“Unitarian Universalists believe that no human being is illegal. We have fought for compassionate immigration reform and an end to mass detention and deportation for years—from opposing Arizona’s SB 1070 and Joe Arpaio’s reign of terror on communities of color in Phoenix, to providing sanctuary for people under immediate threat of deportation in Colorado, Texas and other states across the country. We will continue to support DREAMers and their families and help them defend themselves against this administration’s brutal system of punitive measures and mass criminalization. As people of faith and conscience, grounded in Unitarian Universalist principles affirming the inherent worth and dignity of all people, we will resist these actions faithfully and with love until all communities are free.”
The Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, The General Board of Church and Society of The United Methodist Church: "God calls us to welcome the migrant. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a critical first step to fixing our broken immigration system and loving the sojourner. The recent halt to this policy, and any efforts to rescind these protections, are not only unconscionable but contrary to moral work and witness. Any reforms to the U.S. immigration system must affirm the worth, dignity, and inherent value and rights of migrants. The United Methodist Church stands with DACA recipients, their families, and the entire immigrant community, and we will continue to work for just and compassionate immigration policies that acknowledge the dignity of all people."
Bishop Minerva Carcaño, United Methodist Church - California-Nevada Annual Conference: “The United Methodist Church has long held firm to the belief that for Christians the welfare of immigrants stands above border security and certainly above broken immigration policies. Today we stand with undocumented young people. Eliminating DACA is a punishment of the innocent and a crippling of our future. United Methodists from across the country are committed to working in behalf of young people who will be victims of this policy change. We will do our best to protect them from deportation and separation from their families.”
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