On Monday April 18, thousands of people rallied in front of the US Supreme Court as the justices heard oral arguments in United States v. Texas. Twenty-six states, including Texas, sued the Obama administration for the executive actions President Obama signed in 2014 that were intended to defer deportation for millions of undocumented immigrants, specifically for the parents of legal U.S. residents. That program is known as DAPA.
In November, 2014, President Obama issued several executive immigration initiatives, including vital administrative relief programs for millions of immigrants. Key provisions of the reforms included expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). At its core, the goal of DACA/DAPA is to protect and keep families together. The programs are intended for people with close family ties to U.S. citizens and residents and do not pose a safety or security threat. In February, 2015 a Texas federal district court blocked implementation of the DACA/DAPA programs. In response, the Department of Justice petitioned the Supreme Court to hear the case.
DACA and DAPA are important step to protecting immigrant’s right until comprehensive immigration reform is passed. They provide tremendous economic benefits to everyone in the United States.
You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. You shall not abuse any widow or orphan.
- Exodus 22:21-22
As Presbyterians, we recognize that these texts instruct the people of God on how to treat the “alien,” sometimes alternately translated “foreigner” or “immigrant.” Indeed in today’s vocabulary, these passages are clearly instructions on how we must treat immigrants and refugees in our midst. The challenge is not simply to investigate the linguistic derivation of this term, but to recognize that each of these groups – aliens, widows, orphans – represents otherness in the society. The clear implications of the texts are that no one (outcasts or otherwise) should be abused or be treated as second-class citizens. Nor should they be bereft of the assistance of the whole community in breaking the chains of oppression that bind them.
The high court will decide on the future of the immigration initiatives by June 30. Programs affected by President Obama’s initiatives affect more than 2.6 million U.S. citizens living with an affected family member. The Office of Public Witness stands with these millions of families in hope for a court decision that will allow them to remain together.
The Interfaith Immigration Coalition is asking that people plan or attend a vigil or action in support of DACA/DAPA between now and the end of June, when the Supreme Court will release its decision. Please consider planning an event, and use this resource and planning guide as a tool in your advocacy.