Evangelical leaders including pastor and author Max Lucado, and Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore, have joined with U.S. Senators to demand that Congress pass a DACA bill to protect Dreamers.
World Relief oversaw a press conference and an open letter signed by a diverse group of evangelicals calling on Congress to help enact a new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy to protect the children of undocumented immigrants.
Addressed to President Donald Trump and Congress, the letter was later published as an ad in The Washington Post and addressed the need to help persecuted Christians, refugees of all faiths, immigrant families waiting reunification, and dreamers.
“Roughly 700,000 young people are poised to lose their right to work lawfully in the U.S., not to mention their dreams of a future in this country—the country they were brought to as children, without choice,” read the letter.
“Our prayer is that these young people would be allowed to continue contributing to our society without fear of deportation.”
Senators James Lankford of Oklahoma, a Republican, and Angus King of Maine, an independent who coalitions with the Democrats, were part of a press conference overseen by World Relief on Wednesday.
“This is a unique moment I think that we’re standing in. That there’s a deadline and a requirement to actually act on some issues related to these individuals,” stated Sen. Lankford at the press conference. “What I am encouraging my colleagues to do is not stop the work.”
Evangelical leaders present at the press conference included Galen Carey, vice president of Government Relations for the National Association of Evangelicals; Shirley Hoogstra, president of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities; and Jesse Rincones, executive director of the Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas, among others.
Last September, the Trump administration announced that they were rescinding the Obama-era DACA program, which temporarily protected immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally when they were children, if they met certain requirements and applied for the program.
In a statement read to the press at the time, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that DACA was being “rescinded” as it was viewed as an unlawful unilateral action on the part of the previous administration.
“This policy was implemented unilaterally to great controversy and legal concern after Congress rejected legislative proposals to extend similar benefits on numerous occasions to this same group of illegal aliens,” stated Sessions.
“In other words, the executive branch, through DACA, deliberately sought to achieve what the legislative branch specifically refused to authorize on multiple occasions. Such an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the Executive Branch.”
Last month, federal judge William Alsup of San Francisco issued a temporary block to the administration’s ending of DACA, arguing that the Department of Homeland Security’s “decision to rescind DACA was based on a flawed legal premise.”
“As a result, DACA recipients who failed to renew their status by last year’s deadline will have a chance to submit renewal applications. The decision does not, however, allow new applications to be submitted,” reported the Hill.
In his Jan. 30 State of the Union address to Congress, Trump offered DACA legislation, including a path to citizenship, as part of a broader agreement including a border wall and other immigration reforms. Tuesday, Chief of Staff John Kelly said Trump was unlikely to extend the March 5 DACA deadline if Congress didn’t come to an agreement by then.
This is not the first time that evangelical leaders have joined members of Congress to call for a DACA bill passage.
Last month, Democrat House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other Democrat members of Congress joined with conservative evangelicals, including National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference President the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, to promote DACA.
In his remarks at the January press conference, Rodriguez, who gave a prayer at Trump’s inauguration, explained that President Trump cares about the well-being of the children of illegal immigrants and wants to sign legislation securing their legal status.
“The president wants to make this happen. He wants to make this happen. He’s a grandfather and a father. He has expressed that to me personally in the White House: ‘I don’t want to harm these kids. I want to make this happen,'” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez also spoke about the “clarion call” for border security coming from both the White House and the Republican-controlled Congress.
“The wall is a physical object created by man. 800,000 human beings created in the image of God by God,” noted Rodriguez.
“So if we have to build a wall in order to secure and save 800,000 lives, let’s make that happen as expeditiously as possible … let’s build a wall, simultaneously saving 800,000 kids.”