As many of you know, last month's shutdown of the Federal government was related, in part, to the disagreement between legislators on how to proceed with young people formerly protected by DACA. DACA is an acronym for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals that allowed young people temporary protected status to find work, get a driver’s license, attend college, and so on. Last year that program was ended, leaving some 800,000 young people in jeopardy of deportation.
Some of those young people are our neighbors here in the North Georgia Conference.
In an effort to fulfill the commandment to “love the alien as you love yourself” (Leviticus 19:34), I asked the North Georgia Conference's Undocumented Partnership Task Force to share with us how fellow United Methodists can care for these neighbors. Their suggestion and recommendation is that all of us who feel so led, call and write our senator and representatives, sharing our perspective as Christians and asking them to adopt permanent legislation on a path to citizenship for young people who came to the U.S. before the age of 18, who have lived here for four years or more, and who pass a background check. This would be consistent with a bi-partisan bill already proposed to Congress in a previous session.
These young people who came to the United States at a very young age, brought by parents who were fleeing abject poverty or violence or even death, would not be going “back” to a country that they even remember. They are contributing to our North Georgia communities with their friendship, their labor, their culture, their life in our churches, and in so many other ways.
Our United Methodist Social Principles state that we oppose policies that separate families. Instead, we recognize the gifts, contributions, and struggles of immigrants and that we advocate for justice for all.
Our senators and representatives will vote in the coming weeks. My prayer is that they come to a solution that honors the humanity of these young people, who are our neighbors and children of God.