Dreaming of a Better World for Immigrants and Refugees

Photo by {artist}/{collectionName} / Getty Images

Photo by {artist}/{collectionName} / Getty Images

By Jennifer Taylor

#Dreamers are parents, siblings, spouses, and friends who deserve to stay with their loved ones in the only country they call home, the United States. Their livelihoods depend on Congress passing the #DreamAct.” - Senator Dianne Feinstein

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Imagine living in the United States your whole life. You were educated here, your loved ones are here, your job is here, and English is your dominant language. This country is your home as it is the only land and culture you have ever really known. You have not been back to your country of origin since you were a very small child. Now imagine being told that because you were brought here illegally, you have to be deported to that same country; you know the one that you haven’t been to in over a decade; the one where you are unfamiliar with the culture, the people, and perhaps even the language. The place that is a foreign land to you and a distant memory of your past.

It is impossible to reflect on the history of the United States without acknowledging the sacrificial contributions of immigrants, yet it is still considered one of the most controversial topics to discuss both politically and socially. It is an issue that continues to divide this  nation time and time again. Politicians have used the Hispanic community as political leverage to gain power in office making promises around the pathway to the coveted citizenship status in order to garner the Hispanic vote. Over the years, Presidents have enacted and repealed a multitude of policies around immigration that have either empowered or further marginalized those who do not hold the status of U.S. citizen. With the current presidential administration rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act a.k.a DACA or The Dreamer’s Act, it has once again rehashed a heated debate about how to address the overarching immigration process in this country.

Here’s What You Need to Know -- DACA is for those who meet the following criteria:

  • Young people (born on or after June 16, 1981) who came to the U.S. before the age of 16.
  • Don’t have lawful immigration status.

  • Have lived continuously in the U.S. since June 15, 2007.

  • At least 15 years old.

  • Currently in school or a graduate of high school or GED recipient or honorably discharged military veteran.

  • Have a clean criminal record and pass a background check. (Source: https://unitedwedream.org/about/projects/deferred-action/)

  • DACA provided a way for youth to stay in the country legally as they obtained renewable work visas which protected them from deportation.

  • Rescinding DACA will impact 800,000 recipients leaving them vulnerable to deportation and family separation.

With the stunning number of recipients, chances are you or someone you know are affected  by the rescindment. Although former President Obama was very clear that it was not a pathway to permanent residency, it did serve as a means to what many hoped was a hopeful end to their journey to eventual citizenship. The current administration has managed to facilitate a school-to –deportation pipeline with the argument that undocumented immigrants are criminals or deviants in our society that must be removed. Where there was hope, now lies fear and outrage.

Time is running out for the Dreamers so the urgency of mobilization has never been so apparent. With the hashtag #DREAMACTNOW, youth around the country are demanding for a new bipartisan Dream Act to ensure their amnesty.

The Bible reminds us to "care about the foreigner" and "care about our neighbors more than ourselves." The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference is one of many faith-led coalitions in this nation that are living out this truth fighting for the rights of the 800,000 immigrants youth who were once protected under DACA. In a world where every domestic and international calamity is reported to us instantaneously (sigh thank you globalization) it can be difficult to pick up the torch and continue an uphill battle even when the cause you are championing is no longer a top headline.

Recognized as one of the nation’s leading advocates for comprehensive immigration reform, the NHCLC has been vocal in its effort to sway the decision of Congress to phase out DACA.  Amongst other actions, they will be temporarily placing staff in Washington D.C. to continue lobbying, they have launched media campaigns, mobilizing tens-of-thousands of the nation’s faith leaders, and continue to coordinate weekly meetings in D.C. as well as other cities around the country.

Reverend Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, stated that despite the fears experienced by immigrant youth across the country,

“A multi-ethnic coalition of tens-of-millions of law-abiding, U.S. citizens will begin to put unrelenting pressure on of tens-of members of Congress to provide a permanent solution for DREAMers, whose fate is in question by no fault of their own… This is an affront to the sanctity of life, it is inhumane, and the Hispanic community will stand for it no longer. Our elected members of Congress have time and again professed concern for the Hispanic community and yet, have chosen to do nothing. We will not distinguish between Republicans and Democrats but between those who stand for righteousness and justice and those who do not.” [https://nhclc.org/rev-samuel-rodriguez-reacts-to-dacadecision/]

How can you support:

  • PRAY: For softened hearts of the Trump Administration and congress; for supernatural compassion, and wisdom in how to proceed with a more comprehensive act for this special population of immigrants. Pray that God continues to raise up leaders in strength, boldness, and grace to advocate for immigration reform and policies that protect families while empowering young people. Finally, pray for the thousands of Dreamers and their families during this difficult and uncertain time in their lives. If you encounter someone who is affected by DACA, pray that you will respond with love and encouragement.

  • ACT: Contact the Senate, call your representative, or write a letter. It may seem as though it won’t make a difference, but it is actually the contrary. Your voice counts. If you feel led to be a bit more radical, join a march or protest to show your support. Investing time and your personal resources is another great way to support the Dreamers. Try volunteering at an organization that is actively advocating for policy change. There is power in collective action.

  • GIVE: You can support the Protect the Dreamers Campaign and 60 Day Challenge to Congress, please visit https://nomorebrokendreams.org/