To the student who said tearfully, “I guess my country doesn’t want me anymore,” on national television the day in September after it was announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals would be phased out over the following six months, let us assure you that is not so.
We already know that 91 percent of you are employed and paying taxes and that your bosses will be forced to let you go if your DACA permits expire. Although some have said this would be a boon to unemployed American citizens, business leaders from companies such as Google, Apple, United Airlines, Facebook, and General Motors have said that DACA enrollees are “vital to the future of our companies and our economy.”
This group estimated that the USA could lose up to $460 billion if DACA were to end. Recently released research shows that your employment actually helps create jobs for others.
But your monetary contribution to our society is not our primary concern. What shames us to our core is the fact that our elected officials have left you struggling in limbo for so many years, not knowing whether you will be given a pathway to citizenship or suddenly be extradited to a foreign country.
We know that while we were celebrating the coming of Christ, you have callously been left to worry about your future. And the irony of that is not lost on us. In Matthew 25, Jesus says how we treat the most vulnerable members of society is how we treat him.
We know that you have been here, through no fault of your own, since you were young children.
One of you was quoted in the Arizona Republic, “It is hurtful that I consider this my home, yet to other people I am an illegal.” As followers of Christ, we strongly support a bipartisan bill in Congress that would protect you from deportation. You are university students, veterans of our military, leaders of our faith communities, and valued workers. And, above all, you are cherished members of our society.
God is not asking us to move mountains here nor even to rescue a wounded person beside the road, as in the parable of The Good Samaritan. God is giving us the opportunity is stop jealously guarding the privilege of U.S. citizenship, which most of us acquired solely through the lucky accident of being born in this country, and to welcome you.
As is so eloquently stated in the Companion Litany to our Social Creed: “God embraces all hues of humanity, delights in diversity and difference, favors solidarity transforming strangers into friends.” Our Book of Discipline says, “Our love of God is always linked with love of our neighbor, a passion for justice and renewal in the life of the world.”
All we need do is gratefully recognize the nearly 800,000 of you in our midst and embrace you as fellow Americans.
Kris Holt is a member of the Prescott United Methodist Church’s Church and Society Committee whose participants are those supporters referred to in the article.