Statement in Support of the DREAM Act
One day children were
brought to Jesus in the hope that he would lay hands on them and pray over
them. The disciples shooed them off. But
Jesus intervened: "Let the children alone; don't prevent them from coming
to me. God's kingdom is made up of people like these." After laying hands
on them, he left. (Matthew 19:13-15)
the words of Jesus who claimed children as full members of the family of God
and responding to the actions of the General Synod, the United Church of Christ
Justice and Witness Ministries strongly
urges members of the UCC to encourage
their Senators to vote for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien
Minors – known as the DREAM Act. The DREAM Act will benefit children who are
undocumented who have been raised in U.S.
communities and attended U.S.
public schools and know the U.S.
as home. Action and prayer is needed at
this crucial time. After praying on the
grounds of the Capitol on Tuesday with DREAM students and faith leaders, Mari
Castellanos wrote, “I hope all those prayers and all those amazingly courageous
youngsters touch the heart of the Senators.”
Except for our indigenous brothers and
sisters, we in the United
States are all descended from immigrants,
whether voluntary or involuntary. Caught
once again in an era of intolerance, how quickly we forget that welcoming the
stranger has been a blessing for us all.
The education of immigrant children is not only a smart investment; as
an expression of the call to love our neighbors as ourselves, it is also a moral
imperative. The issues of immigration
and immigration enforcement affect the children in immigrant families and the
public schools that serve those children.
65,000 young people graduate from high school and have nowhere to go. Unlike
other students, these graduates cannot get a job, join the military, or qualify
for in state tuition. These are young men and women who were brought to the United States
as undocumented children. Many of them have no recollection of any other
country than the one they grew up in. These are kids who persevered, staying in
school sometimes against great odds and managed to obtain a diploma. These
young people include high school valedictorians, honor students, musicians,
athletes, and artists.
Act is the proposed law that, if passed, would grant these students the right
to qualify for legal residency and eventual citizenship, military service,
employment, and eventual in-state college tuition and college scholarships.
Currently these young people have no legally established path to a bright
future. A large majority of the adolescents who would be assisted by passage of
the DREAM Act have lived in the United
States since they were young children. They
have grown up here; in many cases they have no familiarity with another country
to which they could return. By providing them a path to education and
employment we will all benefit.
Church of Christ has historically supported legislation that welcomes
immigrants and refugees and supports creating a path to legalization for those
who are undocumented.
In 2007, the
General Synod of the United Church of Christ adopted a resolution, entitled “A
Call for a More Humane U.S. Immigration Policy; End Migrant Deaths; Support Immigrant Communities.” Recognizing that “approximately ten to twelve
million undocumented workers and their families currently living in the United States are pressured to live covertly,
without rights, and in vulnerable situations all over the United States.” The impact on children in such families has
Synod XIII of the United Church of Christ (1981) adopted a Pronouncement on Immigration
calling upon all settings of the church to advocate for the rights of
immigrants and “aid undocumented immigrants in attaining legal status.”
In its 1982
ruling, Plyler vs. Doe, the Supreme Court prohibited public schools from
denying immigrant students access to a public education. The Court stated that undocumented children
have the same right to a free public education as U.S.
citizens and permanent residents.
Undocumented students are obligated, as are all other students, to
attend school until they reach the age mandated by state law.
continue to guide our prayers and actions and prayer in the pursuit of justice
for all children and their families, today especially for children of immigrant
families who are caught in a predicament which is not of their making.