Christians across the United States have been quick to praise President Obama for his decision not to deport certain young immigrants who came to the United States as children. "As the President has said many times, it makes no sense to remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language. They have become productive members in our communities. They have grown up swearing allegiance to our flag. Yet they live in the shadows of America, without the possibility to realize their dreams," writes Cecilia Muñoz, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. Mainline Christians, evangelicals and Roman Catholics - often divided - have been outspoken in their support for immigration reform and President Obama's actions. Why is this the case? We are called to "welcome the stranger" in our midst with hospitality. Laws must be followed and real reform is still needed but the clear Christian response on this issue has always been not to turn away young people trying to better their lives.
“We believe the DHS’s policy that rewards hard working young people sets the right tone. Evangelicals everywhere affirm that young immigrants can and should be allowed to contribute to our nation’s well-being.”
- Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President of The National Latino Evangelical Coalition (NaLEC)
"The Obama administration’s announcement today that some undocumented youth living in the U.S. will receive temporary relief from deportation and will be able to receive work authorization is an extraordinary way forward for much needed immigration reform. Among the young people who will be blessed by this action are United Methodists with whom we celebrate and give God thanks. This day comes as a result of the diligent efforts of many, including the hard work of Immigration Rapid Response Teams in our annual conferences, the work of several of our general agencies, United Methodist Women, and the clear and steady voice of our Council of Bishops."
- United Methodist Bishop Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops welcomed the action of President Barack Obama today to defer action to all young people eligible under the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, saying that it would permit young people who were brought into the United States undocumented to come out of the shadows and more fully participate in society.
“This important action will provide legal protection, and work authorization, to a vulnerable group of immigrants who are deserving of remaining in our country and contributing their talents to our communities,” said Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration. “These youth are bright, energetic, and eager to pursue their education and reach their full potential.”
As many as 800,000 young people would be eligible to receive a deferred action on deportation for two years, and a work permit.
Archbishop Gomez said the President’s action is no substitute for passage of the DREAM Act and encouraged Congress to enact comprehensive and humane immigration reform.
- U.S. Conference of Roman Catholic Bishops
Jesus said, "Bring the children to me." Our Christian teachings compel us to welcome the stranger in our midst, many of whom are young people innocent of any wrong doing. As officers of the United Church of Christ, we applaud President Obama's decision to grant categorical relief to almost 1 million young people who were brought to the United States when they were children.
Until now these young people — who grew up in the United States, attended American schools and stayed out of trouble — were not able to dream of possibilities for personal or professional advancement in this country. Until now, these young people have been unable to work. They are ineligible for government financial aid to go to college, even in circumstances when they are outstanding students who are committed to being productive contributors to their communities and our society as a whole. Worst of all, they have been subject to deportation proceedings, sending them back to countries in which they have little connection or familiarity.
The Executive Order announced on June 15, 2012, gives undocumented young immigrants, under the age of 30, the ability to apply for deferred action of deportation. They must meet key criteria outlined in the statement delivered by Janet Napolitano, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security. While this temporary measure contains limiting conditions and gives only two years of reprieve, it is a positive step that we pray will lead to just and compassionate immigration reform legislation that is long overdue. As leaders of the United Church of Christ we call for the President and Congress to enact comprehensive social policies that establish a safe and humane immigration system that is consistent with our core values: Continuing Testament, Extravagant Welcome, and Changing Lives.
- The Officers of the United Church of Christ