Sunday, September 3, 2017

300-plus Pastors, Evangelical Leaders Urge Protection of DACA Recipients



WASHINGTON, D.C. — As Americans head to church this Sunday morning, hundreds of pastors from 40 states are urging President Trump to preserve Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and work with Congress to pass bipartisan legislation to protect Dreamers.

More than 300 pastors and evangelical leaders have signed on to the letters to the president, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) that leaders of the Evangelical Immigration Table released late last week.

The following are quotes from pastors and evangelical leaders across the country who signed on to the letters:

Bethany Anderson, Initiative Director, Solidarity, Fullerton, California:“I signed on to the Evangelical Immigration Table’s letters for Dreamers because I believe Dreamers represent the very best of us. As a community, they embody resilience, courage and hard work, and without Dreamers, my family and community would not be what it is today. If DACA is rescinded and we don't have a legislative solution in place, we would be abandoning a valuable part of our community, and my faith in Jesus does not allow me to sit by and let that happen. My faith compels me to stand with and amplify the voice of the vulnerable, and I am committed to do that alongside Dreamers.”

Félix Cabrera, Co-Founder, Hispanic Baptist Pastors Alliance, and Lead Pastor, Iglesia Bautista Central, Oklahoma City:“To end the DACA program now would be immoral, violating the trust of young immigrants, including those within my congregation and many other Hispanic Southern Baptists throughout the country, who trusted the federal government when it asked them to register and provide their personal information. It would also be economically disastrous, forcing the laying off of hundreds of thousands of trained employees, leaving both their employers and the employees in an incredibly difficult spot. It could trigger a domino effect that harms many citizens — as well as the Dreamers and their families — when those who have lost their jobs would struggle to pay rent or a mortgage payment, miss car payments, be forced to withdraw from college or graduate school, and have trouble providing basic food and clothing for their families. Rather than taking another step that will exacerbate ethnic and political divisions in our nation, I pray that President Trump and congressional leaders from both parties will work together to pass legislation to protect Dreamers, and, in the process, help to unify our nation.”

Alan Cross, Missional Strategist, Montgomery Baptist Association, and Executive Director, Community Development Initiatives, Montgomery, Alabama:“I signed the Evangelical Immigration Table letters to President Trump and congressional leaders because I believe that Dreamers are victims of our broken immigration system, and that biblical justice requires us to speak on behalf of those who are vulnerable and in need of protection. Immigrant Dreamers were brought here at a young age through no fault of their own and have grown up here, graduated from our high schools, work alongside of us and are part of our communities and churches. Many do not even remember their home countries. It would be unjust and immoral to remove their protection and make them subject to deportation. Jesus commands us to love our neighbor sacrificially. Young Dreamers are our neighbors. I call upon Congress to pass legislation that protects Dreamers and provides them an earned pathway to citizenship.”

Micah Fries, Senior Pastor, Brainerd Baptist Church, Chattanooga, Tennessee:“I am glad to stand in support of Dreamers. As believers in Christ, Scripture calls us to advocate on behalf of the vulnerable and marginalized. Few are more marginalized than children who did not decide to live here, but now call this their home, and yet are powerless with respect to their citizenship and fearful of being deported to a place they have likely never known as home. We certainly need a better immigration policy in the U.S., but it must begin with a commitment to protect the children who are most vulnerable and who are already among us.”

Jim Hollandsworth, Executive Director, The Path Project, Loganville, Georgia:“I’m a white, southern, evangelical Christian, and I support keeping DACA and working toward a permanent legislative solution for Dreamers. I have many friends who are Dreamers, and they make my community a better place. All they want is the opportunity to go to college and achieve their dreams — just like I did. All they know is America as their home — just like me. I signed the letter to President Trump urging him to keep DACA because I believe it’s important to let our leaders know that most Americans think Dreamers should be able to stay. Our political leaders need to make this happen.”

Joel Hunter, Senior Pastor, Northland Church, Casselberry, Florida:“I've been among many evangelical pastors urging Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform — and especially a bill such as the DREAM Act that would resolve the situation of those who came to the U.S. as children — for many years. Now there is greater urgency than ever as hundreds of thousands of young people, including many here in Central Florida, are apparently at risk of losing their employment authorization and their protection from deportation. Congress needs to pass legislation to protect these Dreamers as soon as possible, and I'd urge the president to refrain from taking any action on DACA until they do so.”

Lynne Hybels, Advocate for Global Engagement, Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, Illinois:“Our church is deeply invested in serving the immigrant community in the Chicagoland area. We’ve hosted workshops helping dozens of brave young people to apply for the DACA program. We’ve witnessed firsthand the hope that the DACA program has brought to individuals who have wanted nothing more than the chance to pursue an education and lead a productive life, just as our own children have done. To end the program now, without action from Congress first, would be devastating — for them and for the communities that benefit from their work, ingenuity and courage.”

Tyler Johnson, Lead Pastor, Redemption Church, Gilbert, Arizona:“Followers of Jesus are called to do justly and love mercy. We are to open our mouths for the mute and destitute. Signing these Evangelical Immigration Table letters is saying that we are standing on the side of justice with DACA kids.”

Jason Lee, Baptist Minister and Director of the Acts 17 Initiative, Atlanta:“As a Bible-believing Christian who seeks to obey the call of Christ to love my neighbor, to do justice and love mercy, and stand for the vulnerable, it is clear to me that we must find a way to protect our Dreamer neighbors and find a workable solution so that they may stay in the U.S.

“Dreamers were brought to the U.S. illegally at young ages and are victims of a broken system through no fault of their own. Dreamers need to stay as they are American in every way but the paperwork. Most Dreamers stepped forward in good faith as they became DACA recipients, and we must keep our promise to them, and we must speak and work on their behalf to find a workable solution. I signed the statement for these reasons and am compelled as we cannot act unjustly and deport the American promise that so many Dreamers represent.”

Rich Nathan, Senior Pastor, Vineyard Columbus, Columbus, Ohio:“Vineyard Columbus has helped hundreds of amazing young people to have a shot at the American Dream because of DACA. Ending DACA would destroy Dreamers’ futures, split their families and tell the world that America no longer strives to be ‘the last best hope’ of the earth.”

Tim Moore, Senior Pastor, Walk Worthy Baptist Church, Austin, Texas:“Dreamers deserve citizenship, but permanent legal status would be a good start for this Republican Congress. If they can't do that, they're likely to default to their historical nativist tendency where good and deserving people were once considered to be ‘mongrelizing’ America with ‘bad genes’ or were too foreign, too Jewish, too Catholic or Orthodox ever to be worthy to assimilate to the American way. Congress, allow these deserving Dreamers to be Americans!”

Matthew Soerens, U.S. Director of Church Mobilization, World Relief, Aurora, Illinois:“At World Relief, we partner with more than 1,000 local churches across the U.S. to serve immigrants. Many of these local churches have Dreamers who are members of their congregations. We have seen the hope that the DACA program has provided them, allowing them to work lawfully, help support their families, and also serve their churches and communities. To withdraw that status now, before Congress has passed long overdue legislation, would be devastating — for these brave young people and their families, but also for the churches of which they are an integral part. My prayer and my plea to President Trump and to leaders in Congress is that they would work together to find a legislative solution, rather than prematurely terminating the DACA program.”

Joel Tooley, Executive Director, Nazarene Centro de Refugio, Melbourne, Florida:“As a follower of Jesus, I cannot imagine standing in any other position but that of advocating for those who have been caught up in the fray of an immigration system that holds the vulnerable hostage, gives way for cheaters and lawbreakers to move freely and perpetuates racist, xenophobic rhetoric every time an election draws near. For the cause of Christ, I stand with Dreamers.”

Rondell Treviño, Director, Memphis Immigration Project, and Director of Youth Ministries, Woodland Presbyterian Church, Memphis, Tennessee:“The recipients of DACA bring great determination and accomplishments, further making the United States a better and more vibrant country. Not only that, but they are a part of churches bringing a faith in Jesus that is refreshing and needed today. Therefore, as a follower of Christ, I felt obligated to sign the Evangelical Immigration Table letters because Dreamers deserve to be protected and viewed as people to love, not problems to solve.”

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