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Parsons letter to Congress supports DREAM Act

Legislation would allow immigrant high school graduates to go to college, work or join U.S. military

September 30, 2010

LOUISVILLE

The Rev. Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly, has written a letter to members of the U.S. Congress urging them to pass the DREAM Act (S.729/H.R.1751).

The legislation would allow the children of illegal immigrants to continue their education, work or join the U.S. military if they graduate from high school.

"The denomination is extremely concerned over the fate of millions of young people who have lived in the United States for most of their childhood, yet have no right to legal work authorization or higher education," Parsons wrote in his Sept. 27 letter.

"We are troubled that 65,000 high school graduates a year, who, through no fault of their own, find themselves caught in a system where no opportunity exists to legalize their immigration status," the letter continued. "This system is inherently unjust for these youth and we stand with them in asking you to pass the DREAM Act, which would allow them to continue their education, work, or join the military."

The PC(USA) supports the legislation, Parsons said in part, "…because these policies will benefit our nation as a whole."

Similar legislation has been introduced — and failed — repeatedly over the last 10 years.

The full text of Parsons letter:

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) urges you to support the passage of the DREAM Act (S.729/H.R. 1751)

In the early 1950s, the Presbyterian Church, out of deep concern for the millions of people displaced in the aftermath of World War II, began calling for a review of our nation’s immigration policies. At the core of our concern then, as now, is the biblical and theological standard that leads us toward fair treatment of one’s neighbor.

Today, the denomination is extremely concerned over the fate of millions of young people who have lived in the United States for most of their childhood, yet have no right to legal work authorization or higher education. We are troubled that 65,000 high school graduates a year, who, through no fault of their own, find themselves caught in a system where no opportunity exists to legalize their immigration status. This system is inherently unjust for these youth and we stand with them in asking you to pass the DREAM Act, which would allow them to continue their education, work, or join the military.

We ask not only out of our concern and compassion for our youth, but because these policies will benefit our nation as a whole. One of the incentives in passing the DREAM Act is to retain a well-educated base of young people who will be good citizens and contribute to society. Denying education and work opportunities to thousands and thousands of young people who have successfully graduated from our nation’s schools is short-sighted in the extreme.

The loss of potential productivity and hope for these youth is a missed opportunity for this country. The DREAM Act is a bipartisan bill that would remedy this flaw by providing undocumented young adults an opportunity to earn their legal status. Under the DREAM Act, most students with good moral character who came to the U.S. at age 15 or younger, and who have lived in this country for at least five years before the date of the bill’s enactment, would qualify for conditional permanent resident status upon acceptance to college, graduation from a U.S. high school, or being awarded a GED in the U.S. The conditional status will be lifted if the student completes at least two years of college or serves in the military.

While we join with other religious groups in the biblical tradition of "welcoming the stranger" (Lev. 19:33-34), we know that these youth are not strangers to us or to the United States. They are the future of our church and our nation. When they suffer, we suffer; and they are suffering greatly. The DREAM Act has been introduced in Congress since 2001. When will Congress do the right thing and pass this act that is vital to our future? We urge you to take a stand for these youth and for our collective future.

  1. Is the son of a bank robber guilty of what his or her parent did? Do we send families to jail for the crime of 1? Isn't compassion for those who seek forgiveness part of our work? Isn't justice a Church matter? Do you know your confessions? We are not a congregationalist church, but representative. We have an AGMission Council that treat these matters, and yes you voted on them by electing the members. Don't mix gimnastics with magnesia, two issues are two issues. Treat them separately. Don't demean an issue by comparing it to another one. We are a Church of Justice, because we belong to a God of Justice. We are not a Church of Trivialism or Relativisms. Each and every one of the passages of the New Testament you used are phrases. USE THE CONTEXT, NOT THE PRETEXT. I am not sure you are a Presbyterian, but if you are, there are good Sunday Bible Schools at our churches that could guide you into our confessions, social justice issues and Bible. Blessings,

    by Manuel D. Silva

    October 4, 2010

  2. This is a government matter. Parson's letter sounds as though it represents the opinion of the Church congregations. Did we vote on this? I don't think so. It certainly is not my opinion. How many of us even know what is in the Dream Act? The children are here because their parent commited a crime. I'm sorry but do we reward the child of a bank robber? In this letter Lev. 19:33-34 is used as a support: why is Lev. 18:22 and 20:13, Luke 17:29, Math. 10:15 and Mark 7:21 ignored with regard to having gay pastors and elders?

    by Lynn J. Harter

    October 1, 2010

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