Jennifer Riggs, a friend and justice mentor concerning issues of refugee and immigration sent the following out this morning. If you have read Mission Reflections over the years you have learned there is a deep and sustain injury occurring to our youth of color who were not born in the United States. Though born in the landscape of America (but not the U.S.), societal fear-based language and actions have lead to countless children (of color) being held outside and unequal to their peers. Over the years, Mission staff have experienced youth who feel they are unwanted, unwelcomed, and useless. Simply put, they have not been treated as our neighbor, as our family, or as we treat our U.S. citizen selves. As these youth have become young adults, most have put their shoulder against this unrelenting evil and are raising fine young families. However, a few have been unable to sustain the battering that comes from being hobbled so tightly it is impossible to live out their God created selves. Sadly, too often, this has led to suicide.
Destruction of life—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, is occurring in our landscape. Today, we have one more opportunity to end this evil. The thread is thin between our wellbeing and the wellbeing of our sisters and brothers who struggle to live out their lives as God desires. So we might begin to taste the flavor of hospitality and righteousness of neighbor, please consider Jennifer’s words and call to action.
While prospects of comprehensive immigration reform don’t appear likely anytime soon, there are efforts underway during the lame duck session of Congress to try to pass the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. It is likely that the DREAM Act will come up for a vote early this week.
The DREAM Act is a bipartisan bill introduced by Senators Durbin (D-IL) and Lugar (R-IN) as S. 729 and Representatives Berman (D-CA), Diaz-Balaret (R-FL), and Roybal-Allard (D-CA) as H.R. 1751. If passed, the DREAM Act would create a pathway to permanent residence and eventual citizenship for thousands of upstanding high school graduates who were brought to the United States as children years ago.
These young people, including several who are members of Disciples congregations, have grown up in our churches and communities and include honor roll students, star athletes, talented artists, and aspiring teachers, doctors, and entrepreneurs. Each year, approximately 65,000 capable high school graduates are prevented from attending college or finding any legal employment due to their undocumented immigration status. Our immigration law currently has no mechanism to consider their special circumstances.
The DREAM Act would allow those who were brought to the United States before they were 16, have been here for at least five years, and have graduated from high school the opportunity to apply for conditional residency status. After six years of being in this status, those who complete two years of college or military service could then adjust their status to permanent residency and pursue a pathway to citizenship. The DREAM Act would also allow states to provide in-state tuition opportunities for these students.
Please contact your Senators and Representative to let them know your concern for undocumented young people who through no fault of their own now find themselves in the United States without an immigration status that will enable them to become productive members of U.S. society. The Capital switchboard is 866-945-0566.
Rev. Jennifer Riggs,
Director of Refugee and Immigration Ministries
Disciples Home Missions