Major Christian leaders from Samuel Rodriguez to Russell Moore have called on the nation to pray as the White House mulls a solution to immigrant children who were illegally brought into the United States.
The children, known as Dreamers, are part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program created by former President Barack Obama in 2012.
Last September, President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the end of DACA, citing March 5 as the deadline.
The administration immediately stopped taking new applications for DACA and accepted renewals for about a month. The administration said the deadline would pressure Congress to come up with a substitute for DACA, although there is strong opposition to the program among some Republican conservatives or to Obama's use of executive authority to create it. Congress has not found a substitute and in the meantime, two judges have ordered the administration to accept renewals again. Because DACA is granted for two years at a time, some immigrants won't see their DACA end right away.
The move concerned Christian leaders, who have continually called the nation to prayer as the government works toward a solution.
Several prominent pastors and speakers have formed the Evangelical Immigration Table, including Rodriguez and Moore.
"The well-being of Dreamers must not be sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. Our elected officials urgently need to resolve the status of DACA recipients and other Dreamers—and Hispanic evangelicals will be praying fervently for them until they do, while also praying for Dreamers, their families and others directly affected by congressional inaction," Rodriguez, the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Council.
Moore, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention says: "There is absolutely zero excuse for failing to provide a solution for Dreamers. Every week that Congress does not act, men and women created in the image of God will lose legal protections and work authorization. Families will face the risk of being torn apart. Let's pray for and petition our elected leaders to find a way forward from this totally avoidable crisis and for our churches as they care for our neighbors in this new stage of uncertainty."
Scott Arbeiter, the president of World Relief, agrees.
"The Bible instructs us to 'pray without ceasing,' and specifically to pray for those in positions of governmental leadership. Our elected officials in Washington, D.C., need divine wisdom and courage to accomplish what has thus far eluded them, reaching a bipartisan consensus that will allow DACA beneficiaries and other Dreamers to earn permanent legal status and citizenship in the country they consider their home," Arbeiter says.
The EIT was formed to encourage American leaders to work together through the polarizing issue.
According to the site:
Our national immigration laws have created a moral, economic and political crisis in America. Initiatives to remedy this crisis have led to polarization and name calling in which opponents have misrepresented each other's positions as open borders and amnesty versus deportations of millions. This false choice has led to an unacceptable political stalemate at the federal level at a tragic human cost. We urge our nation's leaders to work together with the American people to pass immigration reform that embodies these key principles and that will make our nation proud. As evangelical Christian leaders, we call for a bipartisan solution on immigration that:
Respects the God-given dignity of every person
Protects the unity of the immediate family
Respects the rule of law
Guarantees secure national borders
Ensures fairness to taxpayers
Establishes a path toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify and who wish to become permanent residents
A solution to DACA has yet to be reached as Congress continues to divide along partisan lines.
NBC reports that several polls have shown a majority of Americans support DACA. Results of an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released in December found 62 percent of those polled wanted Congress to continue DACA, while 19 percent said Congress should take no action and let it end.
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