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Immigration Issues

Supporting Immigrants


Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. He said to his people, ‘Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase ...’” (Exodus 1:8–10)

When so many of our brothers and sisters are at risk of deportation

In January of 2017, President Donald Trump signed Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, an executive order that drastically expanded the number of people considered immigration enforcement priorities and opened the door for massive deportations.

Previous administrations understood that it would not only bankrupt the nation but was also against public interest to deport all 11 million undocumented individuals in the U.S. Instead, they created priority categories for deportation and, conversely, space for mercy in the form of prosecutorial discretion. People who had committed serious crimes were enforcement priorities and people who were longtime residents and had been law abiding were allowed to remain under some form of prosecutorial discretion.

This new enforcement order changed that understanding. People now at risk of deportation over the next few years include:

Immigrants at Risk


All Undocumented People (11 million)

“We cannot faithfully execute the immigration laws of the United States if we exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. The purpose of this order is to direct executive departments and agencies (agencies) to employ all lawful means to enforce the immigration laws of the United States.”[1] With this language, the executive branch expressed its intent to move forward with the deportation of everyone who is technically eligible, regardless of years in the U.S., family in the U.S., and contribution in the U.S.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Beneficiaries (800,000)

“Only by the reliable enforcement of immigration law can we produce safe communities, a robust middle class, and economic fairness for all Americans.

“Therefore, in the best interests of our country, and in keeping with the obligations of my office, the Department of Homeland Security will begin an orderly transition and wind-down of DACA, one that provides minimum disruption.”[2] This announcement will result in the end of status for many young people as early as March 2018.

Recipients of Previous Grants of Prosecutorial Discretion (2.3 million)

See explanation above for undocumented people. For the recipients of prosecutorial discretion, their previous grant of discretion was an acknowledgement that though they are technically eligible for deportation, there were public policy reasons why they should not be. Recipients of this discretion report regularly to ICE. Under the new policy guidelines, all who are technically eligible for deportation are being deported, including people under grants of prosecutorial discretion. When people present to immigration to annually renew their grant of discretion, it is being taken away and they are being deported.

Recipients of Temporary Protected Status (425,000)

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a humanitarian grant of temporary status given to nationals of a country who are in the U.S. and cannot return because of the conditions in their home country. Nationals of ten different countries are currently in the U.S. on TPS due to hurricanes, earthquakes, and civil unrest. Grants of TPS are given for 18 months at a time. As countries reach their 18-month anniversary, the new administration is evaluating whether to renew this status for each country and have already decided not to renew for Sudan[3] and are indicating they will not renew Haiti.[4]

Permanent Residents/Green Card Holders (13 million)

The January executive order on interior enforcement added to the list of statutorily removable immigrants and made an enforcement priority of people who;

(a) Have been convicted of any criminal offense;

(b) Have been charged with any criminal offense, where such charge has not been resolved;

(c) Have committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense.

Now green card holders and other immigrants can be placed in immigration deportation proceedings based on any criminal offense, no matter how minor, even if only charged but not convicted or not even charged at all.



What this means in our faith communities

Meet Marturia Presbyterian Church, one of many congregations struggling to remain bound together as members fight deportation. 

SUPPORT marturia from Office of the General Assembly on Vimeo.

(Click here for more information about the end of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and how it is affecting our members.)

They are bound together in Christ to one another and, as longtime residents, to the greater community. As you watch the following video, consider how your presbytery, your local community, and the national church can form a community of care for the congregations at risk where you live.

Coming together to form communities of support

SUPPORT partners from Office of the General Assembly on Vimeo.

Presbytery, congregations, and local community

The partnerships built between the congregation, the presbytery, and the local community are key to sustaining the movement to keep Marturia’s members in the U.S. Who are the potential partners in your area?

  • Finding community partners: Look within your community for partners to join in offering support and forming advocacy efforts. Opportunities for partnerships can be found everywhere.
    • Migrant led advocacy and community organizations lead the way with know your rights materials, legal clinics, and in building bridges between local leaders and immigrant communities. If you are in a primarily citizen congregation, they can be your guide on how to be good allies and where to join established movements.
    • Lawyers: Everyone needs an attorney to help them through the removal process. The government will not provide one and the presence of an attorney can make the difference between deportation and the grant of asylum or other protections. Find out who the nonprofit removal defense lawyers are in your region and get to know them and be ready to make referrals or to host them at a legal clinic at your church. People at risk of deportation will need other forms of legal assistance, whether they need help in family court or with custody and power of attorney documents as they prepare for possible deportation. Know your local legal aid office and who you can call upon when assistance is needed. Finally, know your local American Immigration Lawyers Association and American Civil Liberties Union chapters. They can be a source for legal referrals and know your rights presentations as well.
    • Disaster Assistance Resources: Advice and grants through Presbyterian Disaster Assistancemay be available for this human-caused disaster of mass deportation.
    • Teachers: Teachers, school staff, and classmates are connected to families in a community. They are organized and care deeply about the children in their classrooms.
    • Ecumenical and Interfaith Partnerships.
    • Civic and Business leaders.
    • Social Service Agencies may be able to help families deal with the stress of impending separation.
    • Antiracism organizations: Antiracism organizations recognize that the same rhetoric and systems used to marginalize communities of color are used against migrants as well and are often ready to oppose those systems together.
    • Doctors and mental health providers: Doctors and mental health providers who treat children care about their whole well-being and will organize on behalf of families when they view that systems are mistreating them.

Integrating your Response in your Faith:

Faith in Action

  • Welcoming Ministries:ESL/ELL, Legal Clinics, Know Your Rights.
  • Accompaniment: Sponsoring legal representation, going to court and ICE appointments with those at risk of deportation.
  • Family Care Plans, the ultimate accompaniment: You can stand by members and congregations at risk by helping them think through the scenario of being detained in a safe and loving environment, then helping them take the actions they need to make the best plan for themselves and their families. Learn more about family care plans
  • Advocacy:
    • Locally: Taking accompaniment to the streets and holding vigils outside the ICE office and detention centers. Using local media and social media to inform and change the conversation. Petitioning and visiting people in power. If they will not listen, holding vigils outside their offices as well.
    • Nationally: Supporting a clean DREAM Act and Comprehensive Immigration Reform, opposing bad bills, visiting Congressional offices.


  • Offering Sanctuary: more information here.
  • Rapid Response to Raids: Report a raid when it is happening through United We Dream. Take photos or video. Keep notes of badge numbers, numbers of agents, who was taken and when. Call: 1-844-363-1423. You could have a local group taking this action and gathering this information. Local migrant rights groups should know who and how to get involved.

“And God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.’ And it was so. God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.”  Genesis 1:24–25

We are the children of a Creator whose imagination and love knows no bounds. As you walk in this ministry with energy, intelligence, imagination, and love, you will be inspired to follow our Creator in ways not conceived on this page. Please share with us.


[1] Executive Order, January 25, 2017, Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.
[2] Statement from President Donald J. Trump on DACA, September 5, 2017.
[3] United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Announcement, Temporary Protected Status for Sudan to Terminate November 2018, September 18, 2017.
[4] United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Announcement, Temporary Protected Status for Haiti Extended for Six Months, May 24, 2017.

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