Written by Connie Larkman
The national officers of the 1.1 million-member United Church of Christ today (June 18) released a statement applauding President Barack Obama's decision to extend administrative relief to an estimated 800,000 young illegal immigrants. Here is the text of that statement:
Jesus said, "Bring the children to me." Our Christian teachings compel us to welcome the stranger in our midst, many of whom are young people innocent of any wrong doing. As officers of the United Church of Christ, we applaud President Obama's decision to grant categorical relief to almost 1 million young people who were brought to the United States when they were children.
Until now these young people — who grew up in the United States, attended American schools and stayed out of trouble — were not able to dream of possibilities for personal or professional advancement in this country. Until now, these young people have been unable to work. They are ineligible for government financial aid to go to college, even in circumstances when they are outstanding students who are committed to being productive contributors to their communities and our society as a whole. Worst of all, they have been subject to deportation proceedings, sending them back to countries in which they have little connection or familiarity.
The Executive Order announced on June 15, 2012, gives undocumented young immigrants, under the age of 30, the ability to apply for deferred action of deportation. They must meet key criteria outlined in the statement delivered by Janet Napolitano, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security. While this temporary measure contains limiting conditions and gives only two years of reprieve, it is a positive step that we pray will lead to just and compassionate immigration reform legislation that is long overdue. As leaders of the United Church of Christ we call for the President and Congress to enact comprehensive social policies that establish a safe and humane immigration system that is consistent with our core values: Continuing Testament, Extravagant Welcome, and Changing Lives.