On Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017—as the Gulf states were reeling from Hurricane Harvey’s devastating rains, and the East Coast began bracing for Hurricane Irma—U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that President Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects immigrants brought to the United States as children. Known as “Dreamers,” these young people were raised in and acculturated to the United States. As a result, they essentially have no home elsewhere.
DACA was implemented in 2012 during the Obama administration. Since that time, approximately 800,000 Dreamers have found protection from deportation under its provisions.
Earlier this year, attorneys general of 10 states threatened to file a lawsuit to end DACA if the president did not eliminate it. Since 2012, the U.S. Congress has had every opportunity to concretize DACA’s provisions by enacting it into law. It was within President Trump’s authority to urge Congress to make permanent the protections extended by DACA. Instead, speaking on behalf of the president, Attorney General Sessions opted to criminalize and scandalize childhood immigrants, characterizing them as stealing jobs that belong to Americans.
Recent actions and statements of the Trump administration toward Dreamers reflect poorly on the United States as a nation of immigrants that extends hospitality, liberty, opportunity and justice to all people. Our inherent values must not be left to the president and attorney general to define for all Americans. People of faith and goodwill from all walks of life are called upon to advocate and inform public discourse about the importance of love, welcome, hospitality and caring for strangers without causing harm.
“President Trump’s decision to rescind DACA, effective in six months, causes undue fear, insecurity, risk and threats of deportation to our neighbors who are contributing to society as students, workers, public servants, faith leaders and more,” says Dr. Jeffrey Haggray, ABHMS executive director and director of Public Witness and Advocacy. “To think that many of the same persons who are actively participating in rescue efforts of vulnerable Americans without regard for race, gender, creed, citizenship or any other identifier would suddenly become at risk for deportation, simply because they are childhood immigrants, raises serious questions about our basic values of decency, humanity and civility.”
ABHMS urges all people of faith and goodwill to lobby congressional representatives to make DACA’s provisions permanent for all Dreamers.
American Baptist Home Mission Societies partners with American Baptists to promote Christian faith, cultivate Christ-centered leaders and disciples, and bring healing and transformation to communities across the United States and Puerto Rico.
American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.