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Immigration Issues





“Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went through all the land of Egypt. ... He gathered up all the food of the seven years when there was plenty in the land of Egypt, and stored up food in the cities; he stored up in every city the food from the fields around it. So Joseph stored up grain in such abundance—like the sand of the sea—that he stopped measuring it; it was beyond measure.” [Genesis 41:46–49 (NRSV)]

Joseph did not choose to be brought to Egypt, but he blessed the land he lived in and the people he lived among beyond measure. Such is the same for DREAMers in the U.S. Brought here by their parents as children, though undocumented, they are a part of the fabric of this nation and their presence has changed and blessed our shared communities and congregations in immeasurable ways.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act

Protesters in Washington DC standing up for DACA and DREAMERS

Serafina Ha, left, of Chicago, and Disciples of Christ Refugee and Immigration Ministries Director Sharon Stanley-Rea lead chants during a demonstration in favor of immigration reform in front of the White House on Aug. 30, 2017, in Washington, D.C.  -Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

The DREAM Act, which would give permanent resident status to undocumented individuals brought into the U.S. as children, was first introduced in Congress in 2001. In the decade that followed its introduction, Congress has failed to make this bill law. In 2012, the Obama administration offered, through executive action, a new but lesser solution, DACA. DACA allowed the same group of young people to apply for a temporary deferral of their deportation, an employment document, a driver’s license, and a social security number. Young people who had been living in the U.S. only partially able to participate, were finally able to work, seek higher education, serve in the military, and live without fear. They were finally given the space to dream.

The rescission of DACA and the need for a clean DREAM Act

On September 5, 2017, the Trump Administration announced its plan to rescind DACA. The decision placed many DACA holders in limbo. Since that decision, new applicants have not been able to apply for protections under DACA. Although this status does not provide a pathway to citizenship, it does protect young people from deportation and allows them access to work permits. Watch this video resource to learn what this means to members of our congregations as they contemplate losing status and the ability to work in the U.S.

It is important to note that it will take an action by Congress to find a long-term solution for people like DACA recipients. There are legislative solutions drafted to give status to young people. Some bills allow DREAMers to gain permanent resident (green card) status, which will give them the permanency they need to continue working and investing in a life in the U.S. They will also have the ability to one day petition for family members to regularize their status as well. These bills are “clean” bills.

Other bills give DREAMers a temporary status that they must renew year after year, that will never lead to a green card and will never allow them to petition for family members to join them. These punitive bills not only place DREAMers in a permanently liminal status, they tag on other conditions, like an increase in border enforcement, further adding to the misery of all migrant populations in the U.S.

Equitable and just solutions are legislative decisions that open pathways to citizenship, which aim to provide relief for as many undocumented persons in the United States as possible. On example is the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, which intends to keep families together, make labor conditions safer, and create a roadmap for citizenship for many undocumented communities in the United States. Urging Congressional leaders to support legislation like this will one opens the possibilities of long-term solutions.

Resources for Worship and Reflection

This affects our congregations and needs to be lifted up in our congregations. Resources found here can help you tell the story in your community.