Faith Groups Continue to Demand Permanent Solutions after Unwelcome Appeals Court Ruling

By The Vanguard Staff

WASHINGTON, DC – DACA supporters took a hit this week when the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) is unlawful.

Although the ruling maintains a stay that allows current DACA recipients to continue renewing their status, it sends the case back to a lower court that already ruled against the program.

Interfaith Immigration Coalition (IIC) members, constituents of faith, and DACA recipients said they met with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle on DACA and found they “varied in their commitment to fight for solutions before the end of the year.”

“People of faith remain troubled by this inaction and urge members of Congress: If you can acknowledge how things are, why won’t you fight for the way things should be?” they said they asked the lawmakers.

They added, “DACA has transformed lives, but it has been repeatedly subjected to legal challenges that have put DACA recipients’ and Dreamers’ lives in limbo. Only legislation—not litigation—can provide a permanent solution for DACA recipients and their families. After more than a decade of advocacy for Dreamers, the IIC and immigrant-led organizations will continue to press forward for congressional action that creates pathways to citizenship for all.”

Anna Gallagher, Executive Director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), maintained, “This decision is wrong and only exacerbates the uncertainty felt by current and potential DACA recipients. They are vital members of our communities. It is imperative that Congress enacts permanent legislative solutions so they can live and work in the U.S.—free from fear or threat of deportation.”

“We have always known that the fate of hundreds of thousands of young people who were brought to America and now have lived here most of their lives hangs in the balance of Congress. Immigration reform and the final decision on DACA rest with our United States Senators and Representatives,” said Fran Eskin-Royer, Executive Director of the National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd.

Eskin-Royer added, “It is past time that they sit down and do their jobs in bipartisan fashion, which is the only way immigration reform will succeed. Members of Congress have been granted an honor through their elections to public office and they need to do the hard work. Lives are at risk; futures are at risk; America’s view of itself as a beacon of welcome, hope and success is at risk. The Fifth Circuit has made its decision. Congress now must make theirs.”

Barbara Weinstein, Director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, said: “We are disappointed in where things stand on DACA. While the 5th circuit court ruling provides some relief for thousands of current DACA recipients, over one million DACA eligible individuals remain unable to access protections. DACA recipients have grown up in the U.S. and want to continue contributing to the only country they know as home. No one should have to live in fear of their life being suddenly turned upside down by abrupt policy changes.”

Itzel Hernandez, Immigrant Rights Organizer with American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), argued the “5th circuit court decision gives current DACA recipients a chance to breathe a brief sigh of relief. Yet, my heart aches for the 1.3 million DACA eligible folks throughout our country whose chance at protection from deportation continues to be delayed.”

Hernandez added, “After a decade of being protected by the DACA program, I am tired of the anxiety and uncertainty that every legal challenge presents for the program. I’m tired of feeling afraid to lose my work permit and the fear of deportation, but I also know that the people responsible for our situation are not the courts but Congress and their inaction. It is time for our senators and representatives to put forth a pathway to citizenship not only for DACA recipients but for our loved ones, our friends, and community members, all 11 million.”

Giovana Oaxaca, Program Director for Migration Policy for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), said: “We welcome the stay that will allow DACA recipients the opportunity to renew their status and work authorization. For the time being, this semblance of protection is significant to the hundreds of thousands who depend on it to maintain their jobs, carry on their studies, and support their families.”

Oaxaca added, “(T)here’s more to this decision. This is unresolved, leaving Congress with an unmistakable call to action. Congress should heed the call of advocates, amplified by DACA recipients and supporters across the political spectrum, to pass permanent protections now. We will strive for essential immigration reforms that do not further drive people to the margins, but instead respect their dignity and enable them to reach their God-given potential.”

And, Jorge Palacios, Migration Coordinator for Youth Engagement for the Ignatian Solidarity Network, said: “We have seen firsthand, in the Jesuit, Catholic network, the positive impact of DACA for young people. While yesterday’s decision allows some relief for current DACA recipients, it is time that Congress take legislative action on behalf of those who are denied access to DACA as new applicants—and all who are impacted by inhumane immigration policy.

Only a path to citizenship and comprehensive immigration reform can guarantee the safety and security of DACA recipients, other undocumented young people, and many of the other nearly 11 million undocumented people living in our country.”

“We are grateful relief will stay in place for current DACA recipients. However, we know that DACA is only a temporary fix and does not lead to a permanent status or solution. As we walk with siblings who lack access to immigration relief, we join the call for legislative action. Our faith calls us to live into hope and calls us to act for justice. A pathway to citizenship is the hopeful and just answer,” said Amanda Craft, Assistant Stated Clerk and manager of immigration advocacy of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Sister Marie Lucey, Associate Director of Franciscan Action Network (FAN), insisted, “We reiterate the need for permanent protection for DACA recipients following the decision of the 5th circuit court. We know and work with many admirable, productive young men and women whose futures continue to hang in the balance, waiting for Congress to provide a path to citizenship for them, their families, and their communities.”

Rev. Kendal L. McBroom, Director of Civil and Human Rights, The United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society, added, “Yesterday’s 5th Court decision grants current DACA recipients the opportunity to take a moment and breathe. However, it is unfair and cruel that the numerous DACA eligible individuals are not protected. We’ve seen for a while now how the court system treats the lives of immigrants with little sense of urgency or protection. It is time for legislative action that creates a clear and just pathway to citizenship and that protects them.”

And, Terry Burton, Board Chair of the Interfaith Welcome Coalition in San Antonio, said: “The enormous contributions of DACA recipients to our country—as well as all those who have not been able to participate in this program—have been vital to all of us, especially as they have often been in roles of first responders, nurses, doctors, and essential staff during this challenging time we have all endured. They have grown up in our communities and should be considered quickly for permanent protections with full citizenship through legislative action. To continue to keep them in cycles of instability is unjust and fails to benefit the overall welfare of this nation.”

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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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