What they won’t tell you about DACA
    February 5 2018 by Alan Cross

    DACA has been in the news a lot lately. On Sept. 5, 2017, President Donald Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that President Barack Obama initiated through executive action in 2012 and gave the program six months to sunset. DACA gave approximately 800,000 young immigrants, often called “Dreamers,” who were brought here illegally the opportunity to have work authorization, go to school and have a few other protections.
    DACA did not provide legal status. It simply protected them from deportation and allowed them to work legally. To receive DACA, they had to pass background checks, meet other qualifications and renew every two years.
    According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), an undocumented immigrant may request consideration for DACA if they:

    1. Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
    2. Came to the U.S. before reaching their 16th birthday;
    3. Have continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
    4. Were physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, and at the time of requesting consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
    5. Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012, meaning that: they never had a lawful immigration status on or before June 15, 2012, or any lawful immigration status or parole obtained prior to June 15, 2012, had expired as of June 15, 2012;
    6. Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a General Educational Development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
    7. Have not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

    But, DACA was ended last September and on March 5, the six month grace period that President Trump gave for Congress to work out a permanent solution will expire.
    When that happens, approximately 1,700 young immigrant Dreamers will lose their status each day and will be subject to deportation like all other undocumented immigrants.  
    President Trump has declared it is the job of Congress to solve this issue and that is what is now being debated.
    With polls showing over 80 percent of Americans favoring an earned pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants brought to America as children, there is a good amount of pressure on President Trump and Congress to come to an agreement.
    Evangelical leaders have been very clear about the need to protect Dreamers from deportation by providing them legalization.
    A recent statement prepared by the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and signed by many evangelical pastors and leaders states, among other things:
    “We believe it is unjust to punish children for offenses they did not commit. We recognize that Dreamers are a special category of immigrants because they broke no law and committed no offense.
    “How we treat this category of immigrants is therefore not just a policy or political issue – it is a moral issue.
    “Subjecting Dreamers to deportation or lives of perpetual insecurity in the shadows of our communities is an offense to the rule of law and to the purpose of government, which is for the good of people.”

    Is DACA amnesty?

    There are differing views on what should be done with young immigrant Dreamers. Some have said that anything short of deporting them all would constitute “amnesty,” a violation of the “rule of law,” and an acquiescence to “open borders.”
    In reality, an earned pathway to citizenship for Dreamers that would take 10-12 years is, by definition, not amnesty.
    Amnesty is a pardon for crimes committed. Dreamers were brought here or sent here as children. They have grown up here and many do not even have a memory of their home country. Providing them an earned, legal pathway is not “amnesty.” It gives them a chance to earn a way to stay in the only country they have ever known. Congress legally changing the law to create this earned pathway does not violate the rule of law. It actually upholds it.

    Are Dreamers criminals?

    I know many Dreamers who were brought here from 6 months to 3 years old. They have been educated in American schools, speak English perfectly, are working or going to college, have American born, U.S. citizen children, and are contributing in every way, even paying taxes.
    Many of the ones I know are Christians. They have no memory of their home country. They do not want to be lawbreakers, but rather, they want to be right with the law and go on to live a productive life in the only country they know.

    Why should Christians care?

    As a Christian, I believe that vulnerable people should be treated well.
    Leviticus 19:33-34 says, “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”
    No matter what is decided by Congress before March 5, a permanent fix and earned pathway for citizenship for Dreamers should be included. I believe it is the right and moral thing to do.
    (EDITOR’S NOTE – Alan Cross is a Southern Baptist minister serving as a missional strategist for the Montgomery (Ala.) Baptist Association and speaks on behalf of immigrants and refugees throughout the Southeast.)

    2/5/2018 3:17:19 PM by Alan Cross | with 0 comments

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