Even as the arbitrary deadline for Dreamers has passed, we continue to pray that Congress will pass permanent legislation for Dreamers soon.
President Trump set a March 5 deadline for Congress to pass a solution when he rescinded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in September. Although recent court decisions temporarily allow renewals to continue, Congress must provide a long-term solution.
This issue is personal to both of us. We write, respectively, as the president of The Christian and Missionary Alliance, an evangelical denomination headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and a Dreamer whose church, The Crossing Church, is part of the denomination.
As evangelical Christians, the primary lens through which we view any complex topic is the Bible. The Scriptures make clear that God loves, provides for and establishes justice for immigrants — and he commands his people to do the same. When we are commanded repeatedly in the New Testament to practice "hospitality," the Greek word, philoxenia, literally means "the love of strangers."
This biblical commitment has been central to The Christian and Missionary Alliance since our founding. In the late 19th century, a Canadian immigrant pastor, A.B. Simpson, decided to resign his role at an affluent Presbyterian congregation in New York City when some in the church opposed his efforts to welcome and share the love of Christ with poor, recently arrived Italian immigrants. He launched a ministry focused particularly on reaching immigrant communities, which today has become a global movement.
Caring for immigrants is also our present and our future. In the U.S., roughly 40 percent of our congregations are majority nonwhite. Like many evangelical denominations throughout the U.S., we are experiencing significant growth among immigrant communities. With that has come a personal connection to the genuine fears faced by Dreamers who are integral parts of local churches yet face the threat of deportation if Congress does not act.
I (Marisol) am one of those Dreamers. When I was 5, my mom brought me to the U.S., the only country I remember, risking her life to give me a shot at a better one. I love the United States. Before DACA came to be, I could not apply for a driver's license when I came of age, and going to college seemed impossible since I could neither qualify for federal financial aid nor work lawfully.
When DACA was announced, it felt as though every opportunity opened up. Applying was intimidating and expensive, but I was so eager to come out of the shadows and give back to the community that has given so much to me. For the first time, I was allowed to work, and, with my earnings, attend college to pursue my dream of becoming a veterinary technician. Since I am still ineligible for federal financial aid or federal loan programs, paying for college has been difficult, but I am grateful just for the freedom to work.
For both of us — and for many others within evangelical churches throughout Colorado and the U.S. — the reality of the termination of DACA is deeply worrisome. Without a permanent solution, Dreamers will continue to face the threats of deportation, losing their work authorization and ability to make money, and possibly being forced to drop out of classes. Not only will Dreamers themselves suffer, but so will their families, their churches, their employers and the local economies to which they contribute.
We are grateful to members of Congress, including Colorado's two U.S. senators, who have put aside partisan differences and sought to negotiate legislation. We urge our elected officials to come to and pass a bipartisan solution — one that also respects the unity of the family.
We are praying that Congress take up such legislation with urgency and that the president will quickly sign it into law.