WASHINGTON—In light of a looming deadline for beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, World Relief brought together evangelical leaders to urge Congress to act on behalf of immigration reform.
“Providing a permanent DACA solution is the most pro-family, pro-education, pro-economy and pro-faith step that Congress and the president can take on this issue,” said Jesse Rincones, executive director of Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas.
Communities and churches will be affected
Not having a DACA solution would be a failure that would affect more than just 120,000 DACA recipients in Texas, Rincones noted.
“It will be our local churches and our local communities that continue to deal with the repercussions of such a failure,” he said.
Dreamers—the term often applied to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children—pay about $241 million in local and state taxes, Rincones noted. If 120,000 Dreamers are deported, the Texas economy would take about a $6 billion annual hit, he said.
“You don’t have to know a Dreamer or have one in your church to be affected,” Rincones said.
If 2,000 teachers in Texas who are in the United States under DACA were deported, the state’s education would be at risk, he added.
“Deporting Dreamers, many whose only country they have ever known is the U.S., means getting rid of the most assimilated and integrated immigrants our country has,” Rincones said.
If a bill is passed, then what the country will see is families who can stay together, students who can use their degrees in the work place, and pastors who can continue to serve their communities, he added.
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“And what we will also see, is a country blessed and strengthen by their efforts,” Rincones said.
‘Congress has been unwilling to address it’
Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., and Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, likewise called for a long-overdue immigration solution.
Lankford noted dialogue—but no solution—regarding immigration reform throughout his time in the Senate.
“It’s not that it has not been something obvious to everyone, that there was an issue or a need. It is that Congress has been unwilling to address it,” he said.
Instead of waiting for Congress to find a solution later, this is the moment to figure out what the law will say about the future of Dreamers and other immigrants in the country, he said.
Lankford served 22 years in youth ministry in Baptist churches. So, he said, he understood why church leaders were calling for a fair legislation for immigrants.
“Each individual is created in the image of God. Each individual has value and worth. Each individual has dignity,” Lankford said.
King noted most of his political philosophy comes from Abraham Lincoln, but said his religious thoughts come from the Gospel of Matthew.
“In Matthew 25, which for me summarizes my Christian faith, is the list of people who we are called upon to be responsible for,” King said. “I think the second person on that list is the stranger, and that is who we are talking about here.”
To see the full press conference, click here