Local Faith, Business, Law Enforcement and Other Leaders Respond to DACA Decision

Following U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen’s decision Friday that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is unlawful and suspended new applications, the following are quotes from local leaders. For additional context on the decision, please see Friday’s Forum’s statement and explainer.

Retired Chief Ramon Batista, Mesa, Arizona:
“My experience with Dreamers has been that they work just as hard as anyone to achieve the American dream; they have an undeniable work ethic. They hold dear their religious faiths, their love of family and their love of Country. Dreamers enrich and contribute to the greatness of our Nation through their vibrancy and energy. Dreamers belong here, and that’s why we need Congress to enact a lasting solution.”

Tess Clarke, Director of We Welcome Refugees; resident of Dallas:
“There are so many issues dividing our country right now, but creating a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers is not one of them. There is overwhelming support from constituents in both parties, and it’s about time that our representatives listened to us. Dreamers contribute so much to this country and their lives should not be in limbo any longer.”

Eric Costanzo, Pastor at South Tulsa Baptist Church, Oklahoma:
“I’m privileged to know many Dreamers in and around our church community in Tulsa. Many make substantial contributions to Oklahoma in fields like health care, education, and industry. Why do our elected officials continue allowing these young people to languish in a cruel legal limbo? It’s long past time to find a permanent solution for Dreamers with a path to citizenship here in the only country they’ve known. I pray our elected officials will lead the way in protection the Dreamers — they are our children.”

Anthony Cox, Lead Pastor at Mercy Hill Church, Phoenix:
“Now is the time to act in affirming thousands of our neighbors in Arizona who have contributed so greatly to our country. Dreamers’ futures are at stake and I want to urge Congress to find solutions that will protect our vulnerable neighbors.”

Father David Esquiliano, Judicial Vicar of Catholic Diocese of Sioux City and Rector of the Cathedral of the Epiphany, Iowa:
“Dreamers are people who were brought to this country at an earlier age, without their consent, and many without the capacity to understand what was happening to them. They have spent most of their lives in this country, they have grown up in this country, they have offered their talents in benefit of this country. They did it not knowing if they would ever be able to personally benefit from their contributions. They should not be held responsible for the actions of others, but be rewarded for their love and dedication to the United States.”                      

Briseyda Garcia, student at the College of Saint Mary, Omaha, Nebraska:
“When I heard the news, I was hurt that the federal judge ruled it illegal. Hurt because DACA had opened doors for new applicants and now it’s been abruptly shut in their faces, again. One of my friends was in the process of applying, but now with applications closed, it’s just impossible. I can’t even imagine if the judge had decided to completely eradicate DACA. It’s clear that DACA recipients aren’t entirely safe. I pray that Congress can work together to provide a permanent solution to this madness.”

Sister Janet Horstman, Caminando Juntos, Aberdeen/Sioux Falls, South Dakota:
“Our country is turning its back on hundreds of thousands of outstanding, educated, highly motivated and hard-working individuals who are driven to contribute to the growth and success of the United States, which is their home. These are young people who put their trust in our government; who came forward at the invitation of our government, met strenuous requirements, passed criminal background checks and handed over their personal data to our government. These are young people who have done nothing wrong themselves … There are thousands of young people who are now left in limbo, and even those who have DACA protections are haunted by the constant uncertainty surrounding the program’s future, and they are subject to the political whims resulting from its creation by an administrative action. We as a nation have a moral imperative, and Congress is abdicating its responsibility by refusing to update our immigration laws in general, and DACA specifically, to treat people fairly and equitably. People’s lives are at stake, and we owe it to ourselves to be just and compassionate in responding.”

Rev. Dr. Joel C. Hunter, Faith Community Organizer at Northland Church, Central Florida:
“As a pastor and advocate for our nation’s vulnerable people, I am among thousands of other faith and community leaders who are urging Congress to provide a legislative solution for Dreamers. We hope and pray that our representatives in government will do what only they can do: provide decisive policy that promotes the security and well-being of all people in our land.”

Andrea Lauver, Pastor, Houston First Church of the Nazarene, Texas:
“When I think of Judge Hanen‘s decision to place an injunction on DACA this past week the word that comes to mind is: chaos. All communities, families and employers of DACA recipients will be thrown back into chaos as they see loved ones and vital parts of their communities upended yet again. Those on DACA are vital parts of our communities and have been bearing the weight of this pandemic alongside us all. As we move forward we need a permanent solution for Dreamers that affirms their humanity and allows them to continue being a part of the society they know, love and contribute to.”

Jarrett Meek, Pastor/Executive Director/Founder of Mission Adelante, Kansas City, Kansas:
“Having the privilege of knowing so many wonderful, young DACA recipients, I am especially disappointed in the recent ruling out of Texas that declares the program illegal. Young people who grow up in the U.S. without proper documents come of age in a sea of uncertainty and few legal options. The DACA program has provided a way forward that has granted legal authorization to work, obtain a driver’s license, and so many other things most citizens take for granted. The legal uncertainty that our friends and neighbors continue to experience underscores the need for Congress to act to provide a permanent solution for Dreamers.”

Dennae Pierre, Executive Director of Surge Network, Shawnee, Arizona:
“DACA has allowed countless young adults who have lived in this country for most of their lives to attend state universities and find employment essential to the flourishing of our communities. Congress must find a way to come together and find a way to pass a legislative solution for Dreamers.”

Chief Mark Prosser, Retired Director of Public Safety, Storm Lake, Iowa:
“Dreamers have and continue to contribute to cities and our nation as whole in a plethora of business disciplines and as valued members of our communities. These important members of our country are here by no fault of their own and they’ve done nothing but make our nation and cities better and stronger. I urge Congress to protect our Dreamers from any negative impacts from this court ruling and to quickly and legislatively solidify their legal status in our country.”

Kurt Rietema, Senior Director, Youthfront Neighborhood, Kansas City, Kansas:
“Last week’s decision from U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen to prohibit any new DACA applications turns the dreams for a normal life of immigrant young people into a nightmare.  Moreover, it has the potential to tear apart entire families and communities. As part of a bipartisan coalition of faith leaders in Kansas and Missouri called “I Was a Stranger KC,” we condemn this decision and urge our senators and representatives to bring a permanent legislative solution for Dreamers and comprehensive immigration reforms for all. Our faith compels us to stand alongside our immigrant neighbors. We can no longer afford to leave our young people’s futures to the whims of the courts.”

Jesse Rincones, Executive Director, Convención Bautista Hispana de Texas (Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas):
“Once again tens of thousands of Dreamers are left in precarious positions. A permanent legislative solution for Dreamers will provide stability not only to the Dreamers themselves, but also to family members, friends, colleagues, and employers who depend on them. Justice — and the majority of Americans — demand that Congress and the administration act to provide a permanent solution for these young leaders who have contributed greatly to this country.”

Dr. Bob Roberts Jr., Founder of GlocalNet; Senior Global Pastor, Northwood Church; Host, Bold Love podcast, Keller, Texas:
“I am deeply concerned about the ruling as it puts DACA families in more limbo. Congress needs to find a permanent solution for DACA recipients and stop playing political games with people’s lives.”

Chief Orlando Rolón, Orlando, Florida; Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force Co-chair:
“For children who entered this country unlawfully, America is the only home they’ve ever known. Many of these children have grown up in our neighborhoods and have become contributing members of our society. As a nation we have a moral obligation to protect deserving individuals who have earned the opportunity to remain in this country. Congress has a duty to quickly act to find bipartisan permanent solutions that protect our nation from injustices of the past, present, and future. Dreamers deserve this from our congressional leaders.”

Montserrat Santos, DACA recipient student at the University of California, Merced:
“I am currently a first-year graduate student in the quantitative and systems biology doctoral program at the University of California Merced. Hearing about the recent ruling in Texas regarding DACA has been very disappointing news because DACA has allowed me to pursue my dreams. Without DACA I would have not been able to get a bachelor’s degree, pursue cancer research at the University of Nebraska Medical center through the IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence Program, and certainly not a Ph.D. in molecular/cell biology. I want to contribute to the science and medicine world with my research and I know there are more undocumented students like me, who want to contribute to the betterment of society. By not allowing new DACA applicants, they are tearing the dreams of young people and opportunities for this nation. This ruling also leaves the futures of current DACA recipients pending because we all are unsure of what might come next. I greatly hope that this unjust and cruel ruling gets overturned because no one deserves to have their dream crushed due to their legal status.”

Rev. Dale W. Schaeffer, District Superintendent of Church of the Nazarene, Florida:
“DACA recipients have enriched our communities as neighbors, employees, ministers, and most importantly as friends. I strongly encourage Congress to act expediently to provide a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients. It is time to make permanent what has always been true for these young, and now not so young, people: This land is their home, and they are valued and valuable members of this great nation.”

Chuck Spong, Executive Director, Love Out Loud, Winston-Salem, North Carolina:
“Legislative action on DACA is long overdue, with broad, significant bipartisan support throughout our communities and our nation. Dreamers have been remarkable members of our communities since childhood and have been contributing to the betterment of our communities in numerous ways even as they live in a constant state of uncertainty. As the recent judicial ruling illustrates, we need clear and concrete policy at the federal level now.”

Teresa Stecker, Executive Director of IC Compassion, Iowa City, Iowa:
“We need congressional action taken on DACA now. The ongoing uncertainty of DACA is disruptive to recipients and their families. I have DACA clients that are supporting their families, paying for college education for themselves and their siblings, working hard and serving in multiple ways in our communities. New DACA clients were excited about the chance to work, go to school and contribute to their community. They deserve better than this ongoing uncertainty of their future. We can do better. We must give these amazing, resilient individuals a permanent solution.”

Chief Mike Tupper, Marshalltown, Iowa:
“Making DACA permanent — and pushing forward with commonsense immigration reforms — makes sense now more than ever. With businesses everywhere struggling to find employees, meaningful immigration policies will benefit our economy. Our communities will be safer and stronger if our representatives in Congress can work across the aisle to find permanent solutions that benefit Dreamers and all essential workers. It is time to act.”

Cameron Ventura, Executive Customer Relations Manager, Amazon, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina:
“Congress’ inaction over the past twelve years has culminated in this very moment in which the fate of hundreds of thousands of our neighbors, who have proven their responsibility and value to our communities, hangs precariously. Congress must act today for the good of our nation and the good of our local neighborhoods.”

Lawrence Yoo, Lead Pastor Waypoint Church, Chapel Hill, North Carolina:
“We are calling on Congress to act now in enacting legislation to protect Dreamers. Dreamers have been an integral part of our communities since they arrived as children and have been here for many years. They deserve a legal solution that is just and recognizes their potential to help build our country.”

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