‘Cursed be anyone who deprives the alien, the orphan,
and the widow of justice.’
All the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
- Deuteronomy 24:19 (NRSV)
The GOP killed off the Dream Act today with the threat of a filibuster in the U.S. Senate. Resurrection of the legislation is uncertain.
It is a defeat for justice and a sign of things to come.
The Dream Act is supported by the National Council of Churches and Church World Service (CWS) - along with evangelical Christians and many people from other faith backgrounds. CWS explains the act this way:
The DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act) would allow undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. before age 16 and who have been in the U.S. for at least five years to earn legal status if they pass background checks, attend college, or serve in the military for at least two years.
Church World Service says its support for The DREAM Act is consistent with the agency’s 64-year-old commitment to providing disaster assistance, social and economic development, and protection for displaced persons domestically and worldwide.
“These are young people who have grown up in our communities and mastered English. They include honor roll students, star athletes, talented artists, and aspiring teachers, doctors and entrepreneurs,” said Erol Kekic, Church World Service Immigration and Refugee Program Director. “They dream of contributing to the future of the United States. In many cases they don’t even remember their parents’ home country and consider the United States their home.
“Through no fault of their own, they face unique barriers to higher education and employment,” he said. “Denying them opportunities will only stifle their potential to benefit the U.S. economy by pursuing higher education and serving the United States.”
And what would be the impact if the Dream Act failed to pass Congress, as happened today:
Kekic says if Congress fails to act this year on at least The DREAM Act, “Another entire class of outstanding, law-abiding high school students will graduate without being able to plan for the future. Some will be removed from their homes to countries they barely know.
“This tragedy will cause the United States to lose a vital asset: an educated generation of promising immigrant students who have demonstrated a commitment to hard work and a strong desire to contribute to the United States. Their future is dependent on a pathway to lawful permanent residence and eventual citizenship,” he said. “We must consider and prioritize the future of this nation, the future of those who can be among tomorrow’s leaders, by enacting The DREAM Act.”
Today's failure to pass the Dream Act puts the United States on the wrong side of justice. Those who failed to end the threat of a filibuster may have made partisan political points but they hurt children and that will forever be part of their legacy - and ours.
This is not the Beloved Community that The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther, Jr. dreamed of or the community God calls us to be.