June 6, 2014
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama:
<Español> <Korean> I am writing to you today on behalf of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to express disappointment over your announcement last week to delay any decisions in your review of deportation policies.
Comprehensive immigration reform is needed in this country. This denomination continues to advocate for changes in immigration law but everyday that passes without reform is a day that 1,000 people are deported. Many of those 1,000 would have benefited from comprehensive immigration reform. Many of those 1,000 are members of our church. Many of those 1,000 are parents. Many of those 1,000 are solely in proceedings because of the very programs we hoped that your administration would eliminate or change following this review.
Mr. President, it was our hope that your review would address the problems endemic to many of the enforcement programs of homeland security. These are problems that need to be addressed regardless of whether comprehensive immigration reform passes. This administration should end immigration enforcement efforts that blur the lines between local police officers and federal immigration authorities. The 287(g) and Secure Communities (S-Comm) programs create dangerous situations in which victims and witnesses are less likely to report crimes due to fear of deportation. Such programs increase racial profiling, sending an undeniable message to immigrants that they are not welcome and a message of permission to those that would do them harm. These programs place individuals who do not meet homeland security’s enforcement priorities into removal proceedings. These programs degrade human dignity and safety and do violence to the truth that we are all neighbors. They should be abandoned altogether. Again, I stress that these are changes that must occur in tandem with not in lieu of comprehensive immigration reform and can occur right now.
At your announcement of a review of policy in March, we did also pray that your administration would implement a process similar to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) for our undocumented community members who volunteer with local charities, contribute to our economy, or have children and families here. Yes, this program, without comprehensive immigration reform, would institutionalize a second-class citizenship. It would not be an end to the struggle but merely a source of a more secure foothold in the path to full legitimacy. While disappointed, I understand your inclination to holdout a while longer for a more lasting and permanent solution from Congress.
What should not continue is that everyday during this delay people are being deported. People whom, if homeland security were truly applying the discretion it has in a uniform manner, would not be. People whom, if there were no 287(g) and S-Comm institutionalizing racial profiling, would not be. Please do not delay these changes to policy. You can end these programs now.
The Reverend Gradye Parsons
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)