(OGA) – The PC(USA) has constantly and consistently focused on family unification, family reunification, and the need for comprehensive immigration reform that would offer a more permanent solution to the millions of undocumented who call the U.S. home. However, as comprehensive reform seems a distant dream, we continue to be in solidarity supporting movements that have led to DACA and the reintroduction of bills like the Dream Act of 2017. These two letters from the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly—one to the President of the United States (PDF) urging that DACA continue and one to the members of Congress (PDF) to pass the Dream Act—are visible signs of solidarity.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) stands with the approximately 800,000 young people who have received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) relief since 2012, and the more than estimated 1 million who would benefit from the Dream Act. The DACA program was established by a coordinated effort by young, undocumented immigrants, the Obama Administration, and the Department of Homeland Security to provide relief from deportation to those young people who entered the United States as children. The Dream Act would give this same population the opportunity for a legal path to resolve their precarious circumstance.
The Dreamers are a group of young people who were born in another country, but grew up in the United States. They call the United States home. They know this place more than their country of origin. They have friends here. They have studied here. They have built their lives here. They have also organized to lift their voices to bring national attention to their situation. Many, as they finished high school, were left lingering without the legal stability and proper documentation to fulfill the next steps of their development. They have dreams, and they want to achieve their dreams.
The 220th General Assembly (2012) clearly stated that all governing bodies of the church should “actively [advocate] for legislation such as the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) that offers hope for young immigrants by providing a pathway to citizenship” (Minutes, 2012, Part I, p. 1140, electronic version). Several times the Dream Act has been introduced in the House and/or the Senate, but never in the same year. Without that legislation in place, the Dreamers organized seeking another avenue. DACA was introduced to assist, giving these individuals relief from deportation and providing access to state IDs, drivers’ licenses, work authorization, and higher education. In fact, we have seen approximately 800,000 Dreamers provided the opportunity to continue their education, enter the military, obtain better paying jobs with better working conditions, and raise families. They have fought tirelessly for their rights and, as engaged members of our communities, they exemplify our country at its best. They have also had significant impact on local communities with 48 percent finding jobs with better working conditions, 63 percent finding better paying jobs, 90 percent having received drivers’ licenses or state IDs, and 12 percent purchasing their first home. These individual improvements compute to local improvements, too. This is a decision that not only supports one population, but causes the positive rippling effects throughout our nation.
The PC(USA) understands the urgency. We understand that we are talking about our very own members, leaders, pastors, and friends. Let us help carry this beacon of light.
Read the letter to to the President of the United States (PDF) urging that DACA continue.
Read the letter to the members of Congress (PDF) to pass the Dream Act.