Dear U.S. Senator:
As religious leaders and faith-based organizations from many traditions, we are called to love our neighbor and to welcome the stranger. We are heartbroken that more than one million immigrant youth are at risk of deportation and urge Congress to immediately pass a bipartisan pathway to citizenship that protects Dreamers from deportation. The faith community strongly reaffirms our support for the Dream Act which would provide a standalone pathway to citizenship for immigrant youth. We have encouraged Congress to pass such legislation for over a decade. Alternatively, we believe the USA Act, championed by Senator McCain (R-AZ) and Representative Hurd (R-TX), while imperfect, is a bipartisan, bicameral compromise piece of legislation that provides a pathway to citizenship. We do not agree that increased border enforcement or collaboration between local, tribal, and state law enforcement with CBP will make our border communities safer, especially without increased accountability and oversight. However, we do value that the included border provisions aspire to be data-driven, accountable, uphold the rule of law, and recognize the importance of consultation with border communities. This is absent in other proposals.
In light of Senate floor action next week, we are compelled to outline our strong opposition to the proposals currently advocated by the Trump Administration which we fundamentally object to based on ancient religious principles and sacred texts. The following White House proposal runs contrary to our shared faith values by:
Separating families. The faith community opposes the Administration’s proposal to eliminate green card programs for any relatives other than spouses or minor children. This would permanently ban families from reuniting in the United States, rather than remedying existing prolonged family separation at the hands of a burdensome system. We reject the redefinition of the “‘nuclear”’ family because we know siblings, adult children, and adult parents are all critical members of a family. Members of Congress should champion efforts to recognize, support, and protect family unity in every avenue of the immigration system.
Undermining asylum access. The faith community opposes the White House proposal that would force children, mothers, and fathers to be turned back into the hands of traffickers, gangs, and others who seek to exploit them. As people of faith, we cannot close our doors or turn our backs on children, individuals, or families fleeing violence or persecution. We cannot barter the safety of Dreamers for the safety of unaccompanied children. All people are sacred in the eyes of God.
Drastically cutting legal immigration. The faith community opposes the Administration’s proposal to significantly reduce the number of immigrants welcomed to this nation. Likewise, we believe it is fundamentally unjust to provide preferential treatment to immigrants based on wealth and privilege at the expense of family. Such a move fails to recognize the economic and social contributions that all immigrants make to our country, regardless of their race, faith, national origin, gender, skill type, or educational attainment.
Exacerbating the suffering of border communities and migrants. The proposal would expand unchecked border enforcement policies which are devastating our communities and congregations, contributing to the deaths of thousands of migrants traveling in remote desert regions, and violating the rights of U.S. citizens and migrants alike. Using the desperation of immigrant youth to push through destructive policies that undermine other immigrant and border communities violates our values and fails to promote the common good. We urge Congress to stand with Dreamers and immediately enact a pathway to citizenship. We also ask you to remember that any legislative solution must honor the core tenets of human dignity and family unity.