The Week Ahead: Nov. 20-24

Communications Assistant

November 20, 2017


“They come here to work, they spend their money here in the U.S. They do very well. They make more money here in four to five weeks than they can make in Guatemala. I know our U.S. senators think they’re taking away from local people, but that’s the furthest thing from the truth.”

      —Jerry Hutto, fourth-generation blueberry farmer in south Mississippi, Nov. 13


Dreamers Launch Movement to Engage Faith Community, Push for Legislative Solution

A group of Christian Dreamers launched a movement today to advocate for a legislative solution for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients through a faith-based approach.

Voices of Christian Dreamers is a grassroots, informal network of Dreamers “committed to changing the conversation about undocumented immigrants in the Church and beyond, through highlighting biblical teaching, personal stories and other helpful resources.” To coincide with the launch, the group released a Thanksgiving-themed video highlighting Dreamers giving thanks for the opportunities the United States has provided.

“Our hope with Voices of Christian Dreamers is that we can both identify and lift up the stories of Dreamers within the church and challenge fellow Christians—those whom we consider our brothers and sisters in Christ—to stand with us now,” Fia Vonjimalala, who came to the U.S. as a teenager from Madagascar and now serves as the director of children’s ministry for an evangelistic organization in Moline, Illinois, said in a press release today.

The group estimates that at least 600,000 individuals who have been granted DACA since 2012 identify as Christians.

Temporary Protected Status Decision for Haiti Expected This Week

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is expected to decide by the end of this week whether to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians. More than 58,000 Haitians could lose legal status in January after a six-month extension was approved in June.

On Oct. 31, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sent a letter to Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke recommending the termination of the program for Central American and Haitian recipients, claiming that the conditions in these countries no longer necessitate protection from deportation.

However, advocates argue that Haiti, which is still recovering from natural disasters, lacks the capacity to receive the tens of thousands of TPS recipients that would return. These conditions, coupled with Haitians’ critical role in understaffed fields such as health care, mean ending TPS is projected to have a profoundly negative impact on both Haiti and the United States.

Leaders from business and faith communities have also expressed concern over the adverse effects of ending TPS, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) wrote an op-ed this week urging the Trump administration to extend Haiti’s TPS designation for 18 more months (see Must Reads below).

Multiple bills providing a more permanent legal status for TPS recipients have been introduced in Congress, including two bipartisan House bills. Last week, Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida) and Yvette Clarke (D-New York) introduced the Act to Sustain the Protection of Immigrant Residents Earned Through TPS, or ASPIRE Act, which would allow TPS recipients to stay for a longer period of time and provides permanent residency only to those who can prove “extreme hardship.” In October, Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Florida) introduced the Extending Status Protection for Eligible Refugees with Established Residency, or ESPERER Act, which would grant permanent residency to those who arrived in the U.S. before Jan. 13, 2011.


Summary of immigration legislation introduced and government reports on immigration:


AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN (Noorani Op-Ed): Why Trump’s policies would stall Harvey recovery in Texas
By Ali Noorani
November 15, 2017

By announcing that 2,500 Nicaraguans with provisional residency must leave the United States in 14 months, President Trump harmed the economy of Texas – and the recovery of Houston — less than he could have.

But the look of concern on faces across the Lone Star State remains.

Go back to that week in September when wind and unprecedented flooding tore down shops, homes and power lines, leaving a path of destruction across Texas.

It left Texas — a state home to three of the country’s largest undocumented populations, including Houston, Dallas and Austin — facing a stark reality: It would be extremely difficulty to rebuild without its skilled foreign-born workforce.

Trump needs to keep the Texas economy in mind as additional decisions lie ahead. According to a 2014 Pew Research Center study, 4.5 million foreign-born people called Texas home, of whom 48,000 have temporary protected status (TPS).

Read more:

MIAMI HERALD (Rubio Op-Ed): ‘Extend TPS for Haitians in the United States’
By Marco Rubio
Nov. 17 2017

Health epidemics and deadly natural disasters in recent years have devastated Haiti and hampered its government’s ability to properly function.

Yet our nation — especially my home state of Florida — has not only offered a helping hand to Haitians seeking refuge from these grave challenges, but also benefited significantly from their presence in and contributions to our country.

Since 2010, the United States has designated Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians, recognizing the island country’s perilous conditions brought on by a historic earthquake, a subsequent cholera epidemic, and most recently Hurricane Matthew.

Moreover, the Executive Branch has appropriately extended the TPS designation because of the extraordinarily difficult living conditions that persist in Haiti and the Haitian government’s temporary inability to absorb thousands of people back into the population.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), however, now has until November 23 to make a determination on whether to extend the TPS designation once again.

Read more:

BAPTIST PRESS: State conventions denounce racism, white supremacy
By Tom Strode
Nov. 17, 2017

WASHINGTON (BP) — Southern Baptists in at least five state conventions have approved resolutions decrying racism or white supremacy.

Messengers to the annual meetings of the Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma and SBC of Virginia (SBCV) conventions have passed statements in November addressing the rise of white nationalism and supremacy in the United States. Their resolutions expressed many of the same convictions offered in a resolution approved at the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in June.

Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore commended the actions by Baptists in the states.

“Messengers across our state conventions sent a signal to the watching world this week and last, showing that those of us in Christ are one family, that we are one body, and an attack on one part of the body is an attack on the whole,” said Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

Read more: