Faith-Based Affiliates Urge Congress to Protect Undocumented Immigrants 

PC: interfaithimmigration.org

By Jessica Weisman

WASHINTON, DC –  Affiliates of faith-based organizations around the country continue to urge Congress to protect undocumented immigrants and their road to attaining full citizenship.

The loudest voices of these communities have been immigrants who are young people, including DACA recipients.

They charge, “DACA has always fallen short of protecting all undocumented youth and now faces being completely shut down, following years of legal attacks.”

Faith communities have also been advocating “…for farmworkers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, and other undocumented immigrants.”

The groups argue these groups “are integral contributing members of their neighborhoods, faith communities, workplaces, and the economy…and that they are “deserving of a dignifying immigration status that reflects their role and longstanding place in the United States.”

Members of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition (IIC) have revealed they are currently in preparation to call for action via social media, congressional meetings, and more in order to continue the fight for undocumented immigrants.

“The nation stands to benefit greatly from the full inclusion of our undocumented immigrant siblings, who despite their many contributions to public life and many years in the country, find themselves relegated to peripheral status in the communities they’ve built and love,” said Giovana Oaxaca, Program Director for Migration Policy for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and chair of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition Citizenship Working Group. “

Oaxaca added, “A flexible and humane way for people with deep roots to come out of the shadows and adjust their status is long overdue. Lutherans believe strongly in maintaining family unity and seek just laws that serve the common good. There is no better time than the present to move legislation that supports our immigrant families and youth, with the future of DACA so uncertain. We stand ready to work with Congress to bring forward solutions.”

“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,” said Fran Eskin-Royer, Executive Director, National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd.

“Congress must pass permanent protections for the young people who arrived in the United States as children with no say in the matter. This is the seminal moment for Members of Congress to prove that a lame duck session in a divided country can solve problems and heal wounds. They can take decisive action and demonstrate our country’s soul and our people’s humanity,” she added.

“Throughout the country, voters rejected candidates’ extreme anti-immigrant views in close races,” said Rev. Noel Andersen, Director of Grassroots Organizing for Church World Service. 

Andersen added, “We’re concerned about the future of DACA and the over 600,000 youth who benefit from this widely successful program. The time is overdue for Congress to pass legislation that will deliver citizenship for DACA recipients and undocumented immigrants that are part of our congregations and our communities. We are calling on all members of Congress to fulfill their moral obligation on this issue now, and deliver a pathway to citizenship.”

The Rev. Kendal L. McBroom, Director of Civil and Human Rights for the United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society, said, “We believe that those seeking citizenship and who have contributed greatly to the United States deserve the opportunity to experience permanent protections,”

McBroom argue, “For too long the lives of undocumented persons and DACA recipients have been in the balance of the courts. Now is the time to provide permanent protection through the action of Congress…we call on Congress while it is in session to bring peace and permanency for those who desire it in the United States.”

“While DACA gave protections to over 800,000 young people, it was only intended to be and remains a temporary solution,” said Barbara Weinstein, Director, Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism. “It is far past time for Congress to ensure permanent protections for DACA recipients and all undocumented youth.”

Weinstein added, “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. It is past time for Congress to provide permanent protections for DACA recipients, DREAMers, and all undocumented youth.”

“We are deeply concerned about efforts to end DACA,” said Pat McDermott, RSM President of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. “Young people brought to the United States as children know no other home. Over the past ten years, DACA has made it possible for these young people to develop their skills and talents and contribute significantly to their communities free from fear of deportation.”

McDermott maintained, “Perpetuating doubt and uncertainty about the future of DACA is cruel and inhumane. It is long past time to make DACA permanent and to provide a path to citizenship for farmworkers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, and other undocumented immigrants. Immigrants are our sisters and brothers.”

“‘They also serve who only stand and wait,’ wrote the great poet John Milton, but millions of undocumented people in this country who serve in multiple ways have waited far too long for citizenship status,” said Sister Marie Lucey, Associate Director of Franciscan Action Network.

The Sister added, “The majority have made a home here for many years helping to grow the economy, paying taxes, contributing to their communities, and enriching our culture. Thousands of DACA recipients know only this country as home.  Surveys indicate that a majority of U.S. citizens want the possibility of citizenship for their neighbors, friends, and fellow workers and worshippers.”

“Once again, our neighbors and friends with DACA face an incredibly uncertain future; their fate is dependent on the whim of yet another Court,” said Mary J. Novak, Executive Director, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice. “This uncertainty robs them of their security, threatens their ability to thrive, and fails to recognize their inherent dignity as valued members of our communities.”

Novak then noted, “In this country, DACA recipients teach our children, nurse our illnesses, and build a brighter future, but we fail them by denying true and lasting protection and peace of mind that can only be found in a pathway to citizenship for them and their families. It is long past time for Congress to deliver a legislative solution to provide permanent security for DACA recipients and their families living in the United States. Anything less is a moral failure.”

About The Author

Jessica is a third year at the University of California, Davis from Boise, Idaho. She is double-majoring in Political Science - Public Service and Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies. She has been on the cheer team for UC Davis for three years, and is set to graduate a year early in June 2023. After graduation, Jessica plans to attend law school in Boulder, Colorado after obtaining more work experience in her field.

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