WASHINGTON – When President Donald Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, he created a March 5 deadline for protections to end, designed to give Congress time to act to save the program.
As the deadline approaches, there is still no conclusive plan on immigration.
As a result, there currently is no date that the protections will actually run out for the roughly 700,000 DACA recipients, young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children, but there remains a large amount of uncertainty about whether they could disappear at any time.
Trump himself mentioned the March 5 deadline in a tweet Monday.
“Any deal on DACA that does not include STRONG border security and the desperately needed WALL is a total waste of time. March 5th is rapidly approaching and the Dems seem not to care about DACA. Make a deal!”
A group of more than 1,200 Evangelical pastors and leaders from all 50 states published a letter in the Washington Post, urging Congress to protect Dreamers from deportation.
“As Christian leaders, we have a commitment to caring for the vulnerable in our churches while also supporting just, compassionate and welcoming policies toward refugees and other immigrants. The Bible speaks clearly and repeatedly to God’s love and concern for the vulnerable, and also challenges us to think beyond our nationality, ethnicity or religion when loving our neighbors. We are committed to praying for you, our elected leaders, just as Scripture mandates (1 Timothy 2:1-2). In particular, we pray that you will not forget the following people as you craft our nation’s laws and policies:
Dreamers. Roughly 700,000 young people are poised to lose their right to work lawfully in the U.S., not to mention their dreams of a future in this country- the country they were brought to as children, without choice. Our prayer is that these young people would be allowed to continue contributing to our society without fear of deportation.
Refugees. We are troubled by the dramatic reduction in arrivals of refugees to the United States, which declined from 96,874 in 2016 to just 33,368 in 2017. Based on arrivals so far in this fiscal year, the United States is on track to admit the lowest number of refugees since the formalization of the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program in 1980. This, at a time when there are more refugees in the world than ever before in recorded history. Our prayer is that the U.S. would continue to be a beacon of hope for those fleeing persecution.
Persecuted Christians. Refugees of all faiths and nationalities deserve our welcome, for they (like all human beings) are made in the image of God. We are particularly aware, though, of the Christian refugees and other minorities facing persecution in countries like Iraq, Iran and Syria. Admission of Christian refugees to the U.S. from these three countries has declined by 60%. We pray that those facing religious persecution would be protected overseas as well as in the U.S.
Families Waiting for Reunification. God ordained the family as the cornerstone of society, and we believe that our country is stronger when our citizens can be quickly reunited with their close family members. For some U.s. citizens, the waiting period can be years or even decades. We pray you will respect the unity of the family.
We are mindful of the difficulty of serving in public office and are grateful for your service. We ask that God would grant you wisdom and courage as you confront these and various other complex policy issues in the days and months ahead,” the letter read.
On Wednesday, Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford held a news conference with evangelical leaders to call for a resolution.
“It’s not that it hasn’t been something obvious to everyone that there was an issue and a need, whether that was security issues or that be DACA recipients, or whatever that may be, it’s that Congress has been unwilling to address it. This is a unique moment that I think we’re standing in that there’s a deadline and a requirement to actually act on some issues that are related to these individuals,” Sen. James Lankford said.