The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program turned 10 this week, but the celebrations were tempered by calls for permanent solutions.
While DACA allows some of those brought to America by undocumented relatives to legally stay in the country and work, faith leaders point out that the policy excludes many people in similar circumstances — sometimes even brothers. and sisters. This situation leads to mixed-status families who live under the threat of losing immediate family members to deportation, they say.
Legal challenges to the program have left DACA recipients to live “in constant fear and uncertainty,” said the Interfaith Immigration Coalition in a statement.
Coalition members strongly criticized the government for leaving hundreds of thousands of young people in limbo. “No one should have to live in fear that their life will suddenly be turned upside down by abrupt political change,” Barbara Weinstein, director of the Reform Judaism Commission on Social Action, said in the statement.
DACA, which was implemented under President Barack Obama, does not currently provide a pathway to citizenship or allow holders to fully participate in American life. For example, although program participants, also known as “Dreamers,” may attend college or university, they are not eligible for federal financial aid. In some states, DACA holders cannot obtain a driver’s license. They are also barred from a handful of professions because their temporary status means they cannot meet certification standards.
Critics of the policy say it essentially keeps “dreamers” in limbo for years. Religious leaders in this camp continue to call on the government for bipartisan solutions that will give DACA holders permanent status.
“Most DACA recipients still face uncertainty about their future in this country, not to mention their families, including the hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizen children, employers and communities who depend on them. . For those who are faced with this reality, the Church remains committed to walking with you and seeing this injustice righted,” said Rev. Mario E. Dorsonville, Auxiliary Bishop of Washington who also serves as Chairman of the Bishops’ Conference Committee. Catholics in the United States. on migration, in a report.
Reverend Dorsonville called on Congress to come up with a “permanent solution for all ‘dreamers’ – one of many steps to deal with an immigration system in desperate need of reform”.
Other religious leaders also say the country needs to carry out large-scale immigration reform. And they point out that there is broad public support — including among religious Americans — for such measures.
Asked about the potential of bipartisan efforts to “strengthen border security, create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, and ensure a legal and reliable workforce for American Farmers and Ranchers,” 79% of Americans said they support such initiatives, according to a recent survey by the National Immigration Forum. Most of those polled – 72% – said they would like this to happen before the November 2022 midterm elections.
The same survey found that 81% of white evangelicals – a group that is often presented as hostile to immigration – said they would support work on a bipartisan package that addresses the three issues of DACA, border security and migrant farm workers, the Scored Evangelical Immigration Table. Almost the same number of evangelical Protestants support a bipartisan initiative for immigration reform.
“Clearly it is high time for a permanent solution for the ‘Dreamers’ – a solution that only Congress can provide,” Evangelical Immigration Table leaders said in a letter they delivered. sent to Congress this week.
Good policy solutions for all these problems already exist, the organization’s national coordinator, Matthew Soerens, told Deseret News. He pointed the dream act – bipartite legislation, the first version of which was introduced in 2001 by the then senator. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Democratic Senator of Illinois Dick Durbin – as well as the Agricultural Workforce Modernization Act 2021 and Senator Kyrsten Sinema and Senator John Cornyn Bipartisan Border Solutions Act.
While the policy isn’t perfect, Soerens said, referring to the bipartisan Border Solutions Act, it’s “a good place to start” as it tackles the slow asylum process at the origin of the problems at the border.
But for any of these policies to work, they must be enacted, he added.
“DACA has been an answer to a prayer for many, many people,” Soerens said. “But 10 years later, it’s pretty clear that it’s not enough.”
The policy, he said, was a “stopgap measure” meant to be temporary.
DACA is “a band aid on an open wound,” said Reverend Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition.
That DACA holders must periodically renew their status — and that a court ruling could end the program — “leaves hundreds of thousands of people in perpetual limbo,” Rev. Salguero said. “We in this country are better than that. We should be problem solvers – we need to stop kicking the box. We need bipartisanship to find permanent solutions.
Reverend Salguero has traveled to Capitol Hill to lobby for immigration reform and was with Obama a decade ago when he visited a Las Vegas high school to discuss immigration.
“I’m not doing this because I’m not affiliated with any political party. I do it because the gospel calls me to do it,” Reverend Salguero told Deseret News, pointing to the Bible’s many reminders to care for the strangers among us.
Abraham and Ruth were immigrants, he added, and Jesus himself was displaced by political unrest.
“It’s not just numbers,” Reverend Salguero said, speaking of “Dreamers.” “They are people made in the image and likeness of God.”