EIT March Prayer Partner: A Looming Crisis For Dreamers - and the 2022 Evangelical Convening on Immigration
Authored by Matthew Soerens, National Coordinator, Evangelical Immgiration Table, and originally published March 15, 2022 on evangelicalimmigrationtable.com.
If you’re like me, the heart-wrenching images and stories coming out of Ukraine – and the nearly 3 million refugees who have fled just in the past couple weeks – have dominated your attention and your prayers. When I have a moment to think beyond Ukraine, my mind often goes to the ongoing resettlement of Afghans who were evacuated after Kabul fell seven months ago today, and to the many Afghans who remain stuck and at risk of persecution within Afghanistan.
I’m praying regularly for both these situations, and urge you to as well.
But as much as I sometimes feel that my brain and heart can’t consider another crisis, there’s at least one that’s too urgent to ignore. As National Association of Evangelicals president Walter Kim, Southern Baptist Convention president Ed Litton, and Catholic Bishop Mario Dorsonville teamed up to write in Newsweek last week, Dreamers – immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, many of whom have benefited from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, allowing them to live and work lawfully in the U.S. – face a looming crisis that requires our urgent prayers and advocacy.
You see, while many remember the Supreme Court’s summer 2020 decision that kept the DACA program in place, the Supreme Court only ruled that the Trump administration had not followed the proper procedure in its effort to end DACA. They did not consider the question of whether the Obama administration followed the appropriate process to begin DACA back in 2012 – but a court in Texas took up that question and, last summer, ruled that DACA had been created illegally. While that judge temporarily stayed the effects of his decision on current DACA beneficiaries – such that they can, for the moment, continue to renew their work authorization – he made it clear that he could lift that stay at any time, or that the higher courts could do so. Based on past precedent, it’s quite likely that the DACA program will be terminated at some point in the next year or so.
That’s deeply upsetting to a lot of Christians who are themselves Dreamers and to many of us who personally know people – in our own churches, in many cases – whose ability to work and live lawfully is imperiled by this decision. While we sometimes hear media references to “DACA kids,” many DACA beneficiaries, though children when they were brought to the U.S., are now in their 30s. Many have married and become parents; some are homeowners. If DACA is terminated and their employers comply with the law, they’ll lose their jobs and face an inability to provide for themselves and their families – and even the possibility of deportation to a country that most have not even visited in at least 15 years.
Congress could avert this crisis by voting to give Dreamers a path to permanent legal status and eventual citizenship before further judicial decisions throw Dreamers’ lives into a tailspin. The Evangelical Immigration Table is proud to have joined the Alliance for a New Immigration Consensus, a new coalition calling on Congress to demonstrate bipartisan leadership in advancing this policy this year, paired with other popular policies such as reforms to ensure an adequate, legal agricultural workforce for the country and improvements to border security. A recent poll finds reforms are supported by a remarkable 82 percent of evangelical Protestants.
There is so much to occupy our attention right now. Our hearts are heavy. We feel overwhelmed. But fortunately, we serve a God who is big enough to hold multiple complex situations in His hands. I’d ask that you join me both in advocating for Dreamers (here’s a simple way to add your voice) and praying for Dreamers, Afghans, Ukrainians and the many others facing crises in our world.
I’d also like to invite you to join me to learn more about all of these challenges – including hearing from those directly affected, exploring the biblical principles that motivate our response, and a time to pray together – at this year’s Evangelical Convening on Immigration, online (and free!) on Monday, March 28th from 2 PM to 3:30 PM ET. Learn more and register here. And please share this invitation with your pastor, members of your local church, social media followers, and others whom you think might benefit from this timely conversation.
National Coordinator, Evangelical Immigration Table