Disciples News Service

Thoughts on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in the U.S.

To follow this issue, go to the Disciples Home Missions Refugee and Immigration Ministry page.

From General Minister and President Terri Hord Owens: “I mourn for the wound that is opened in the hearts of the more than three quarters of a million youth and young adults who, with their families, grieve because of the President’s unwillingness to maintain the work sustaining and education encouraging and community supporting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA recipients are our neighbors in nearly every community. They are our classmates in nearly every college,  university, and seminary. They are our friends in our workplaces–sometimes whether we know it or not. And they are key leaders in our churches; brave and faithful and full of determination to contribute consistently to build up the strength of their families and neighborhoods and congregations. Our relationships with these fine young people and their families help us to fulfill our call to welcome the sojourner and experience unity among the diverse tapestry of communities in our church and nation.

“Therefore, the President’s decision to end the DACA program without certainty of legislative action to protect those who have come forward to receive DACA status seeks to bully the breath from their life hope, and to browbeat our efforts to follow scripture’s command for hospitality.

“Likewise, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients are our church pastors, leaders, and strength from Haitian, Salvadorans, and other backgrounds. Therefore, threats from the administration to eliminate TPS for vulnerable populations are unmerciful. They harm our faith family directly and seek to replace the economic healing and health offered through TPS with danger and even potential death if recipients are deported to disastrous conditions in their homeland.

“DACA and TPS recipients have followed the calling of God in Jeremiah 27:9 to ‘seek the welfare of the city to where I send you;’ and our faith compels us likewise to support the well being and healing of those who offer their gifts generously to our nation.  We therefore urge immediate passage of The DREAM Act of 2017 by Congress which would offer stability to the lives of immigrant leaders, and we are committed to continuing work for compassionate immigration reforms that can support family unity, offer a stable future to hardworking immigrants, and enable them to fully utilize their God-granted gifts without fears of deportation.”


3 Responses to “Thoughts on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in the U.S.”

  1. David Cobb:

    Thank you for this strong statement. I was unaware—unthinking, really—that some people benefitting from DACA and TPS are serving congregations as pastors. It only makes sense, of course. These are the stories that we all need to hear and tell.

  2. Joe Hodges:

    In a day and time when emotions don’t just run high but are racing at unprecedented speeds, we find ourselves struggling again, being stretched again, agonizing again, but most of all praying again. As I read the response to DACA from our General Minister and President, I feel pulled as many of you might.
    I approach this topic from a personal point of view with yet another story. It’s about my grandchildren and the other side of their family. The family came to the U.S. illegally from Mexico. Truth is, they snuck in. They used fictional social security cards and falsified information, but they did what they thought necessary at the time seeking a better life. Their deaf son grew up in Texas where he met my daughter. They married and had two sons. The family—wonderful people. I mean wonderful salt of the earth people who were seeking a better life. Their son?—another long story.
    One struggle is we become relational, and when this happens what was meant to be clear becomes muddied. We become acquainted. We become friends. We love, and then a path that was the right way beforehand can seem to become an obstacle. Yet the process of legal entry and documented continued living in the USA was there before any relationship occurred.
    Then we do as our General President said, “we mourn.” We mourn in all kinds of ways. We mourn relationally. We mourn socially. We mourn in policy. We mourn for responses that do not discriminate against legal entry or documented extended living… we mourn. But because we mourn, it does not make illegal entry or extended undocumented remaining right.
    In our country, there is a legal way to enter, document, assimilate, live, and if wanting to, climb on the path to citizenship. The path is set out for all. The path does not discriminate against one people group. It is there for all. A call to “not discriminate” on legal entry and undocumented stay in the USA is not unmerciful, it promotes liberty and justice for all. All our President has done is lift up the level playing field that has been in place for some time. Then some of society cries foul and wants to throw a yellow penalty flag for a personal foul. There is no foul. There is no bulling. There is an effort to carefully address a non-discriminating effort of enforcement for ALL. There is “NO” bullying here. I feel the tug and pull of “people versus policy” of “relationships versus rhetoric,” but we should ask congress to set new guidelines if we do not like the ones we presently have. Hope is not something one President can take. Hope is something given by the very hand of our Creator. Hope is not lost. Hope is another step away. Hope is always available.
    I can quote scripture as well as anyone. I can speak to hospitality and the way in which a country tries to lovingly and without discrimination dispense it. As our country struggles with relationship and policy, may we not turn on our President and lawmakers but pray for them, visit with them, share with them, and demonstrate a loving response no matter the content of the message. May the content of our character be reflected in how we respond, whether we are agreeing or disagreeing with policy.
    Next, if we as the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) are going to become proactive politically, I offer myself as a voice to help in this effort alongside others as we try to live in harmony, love, diversity, and obedience of God and the country we live in.

    It would be tough to think of what might happen to part of my extended family. It is tough to think of deportation. It is tough to think of dishonoring our leaders when policy, loving responses, diversity, and relationships clash.
    The Dream act of 2017 needs revision. But the dream of liberty and justice for all needs to continue.
    Our General Minister and President, Terri Hord Owens, wrote, “DACA and TPS recipients have followed the calling of God in Jeremiah 27:9 to ‘seek the welfare of the city to where I send you.’” Interestingly enough, that text refers to the courage Jeremiah had in telling the people the truth even when the message would be unpopular. Immigration is a tough one. May we hear from voices like Jeremiah who would bring a balanced and righteous voice to the conversation—willing to tell the truth, not just give the easy answers, and not just say what some people want to hear.
    Oh God lead us in the way everlasting.

  3. Sherrill Morris:

    When this discussion arises in my family, the easy answer to “go back and come in legally” pops up with frightening frequency. I call it frightening frequency because it displays the lack of understanding of how the immigration systems to this country are built and how “coming in legally” actually works. If it were that easy, everyone would be here legally. But even immigrants from countries with highers quotas, European countries with whiter skinned populations, for example, are here as people without legal documentation. It becomes even more difficult when you come from a less wealthy country where the population is darker skinned. I do not bring up these realities to begin an argument or to create disgust among the church body but simply to name what is. These are easily documented by going to the https://www.uscis.gov/tools/glossary/country-limit site or using the https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/…/how-united-states-immigration-syste…site to better understand the system that created the situation where children entered the United States as minors. As church, we must be willing to have these difficult discussions openly, in informed ways, honestly, with direct language, respectfully, and based on our love for each other and belief in the dignity of every human being, not only the foreigner who sojourns among us, but the beloved church member whose deeply held values puts them on a different side of the spectrum than we are on. Let’s do it, Church! Let’s talk this out. This is not about “issues” this is about people, people we love and respect and cannot live in covenant without treating with dignity. It will not be easy to face our demons, but it is time. Amen.