Category Archives: Welcoming the Stranger

Action Alert – Dream & Promise Act (federal)

“As we journey together through the time God has given us, may God give us the grace of a welcoming heart and an overflowing love for the new neighbors among us” –ELCA social message, “Immigration” (1997).

Background

Legislative Congressional action is critical to provide permanent legal protection to Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) holders who are living in a state of uncertainty about their ability to remain in the United States, the only home many have ever known. The ELCA has long called on members of Congress to pass legislation to protect DACA recipients, young people also known as Dreamers, who were brought to the U.S. as children. These young people are members of our congregations and our communities who enhance our national life with their presence and contributions.  Your action is needed today to stand beside them by supporting the Dream and Promise Act of 2019 (H.R. 6), that passed the House on June 4, 2019.

After the Trump Administration terminated the DACA program on September 5th, 2017, life changed for those nearly 800,000 now young adults who have benefited from the program. Since first initiated on June 15, 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program, has kept families together and offered a newfound sense of hope and opportunity. The program has provided these young adults with not only protection from deportation but also unlocked other benefits such as their ability to get a driving license and work legally in this country.

Several lawsuits seeking an injunction have blocked the program’s termination, allowing current recipients to continue to renew their protections but cutting off new applications. With the Supreme Court debating the constitutionality of DACA and the rationality behind the Trump administration action to phase out the program since November 12th of 2019, we need to speak up alongside young adults who are American in all but how they entered the country.

Presently, DACA temporarily protects those qualified to apply from deportation and provides them with work authorization. While there are over 1.5 million eligible for this program, many did not even apply for DACA due to the difficult set of criteria and standards set by the government, including high application fees. When President Trump announced the ending of the DACA program in 2017, many young adults, known as Dreamers, rightly feared what would happen next. Now, they are awaiting the decision of the Supreme Court and what this means for their future.

While the U.S. Supreme Court deliberates, it is vital that we encourage the Senate to act to legislatively  pass H.R. 6  which includes a path to citizenship. Urge your Senators to stand in support of young adult immigrants by supporting legislative protection for DACA recipients generally and the Dream and Promise Act of 2019 (H.R. 6) specifically.

Use the Action Alert to send your message.

Family Separation and Reunification

So much has happened over the last month with the president’s new Zero Tolerance immigration policy of separating children from their families at the border that it can be hard to keep up. Here’s a refresher of what’s happened and what’s currently happening under this policy, and what the ELCA and advocacy partners are doing in response.

The policy: The Department of Justice announced in April that every adult who enters the country without immigration authorization would be criminally prosecuted, regardless of the circumstances. This includes refugees fleeing their home countries due to violence or other reasons, even though refugees are required under US law to present themselves at a point of entry—in other words, people entering the United States to claim asylum are not breaking the law.  Under the previous policy, people caught crossing the border or those claiming asylum would be held in immigrant detention pending the outcome of their immigration proceeding. Under the new policy, they are instead referred to criminal prosecution to determine whether they will serve prison time for crossing the border. Federal law classifies crossing the border without approval by an immigration official as a misdemeanor, not a felony; it is the criminal equivalent to trespassing on national forest land.

Continue reading Family Separation and Reunification