The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) was among twenty-four Catholic, Evangelical, and Protestant faith-based organizations that filed an amicus brief March 9 with the Supreme Court of the United States in support of the Obama administration’s November 2014 executive actions on immigration.
The amicus brief, also known as a “friend of the court” brief, supports the administration’s appeal of a previous injunction blocking the programs’ ability to keep families and communities together. Should the injunction be lifted, more than five million people would be granted relief from potential deportation and granted the ability to travel and work legally in the U.S. The amicus brief details the disservice that the injunction poses to immigrant communities and the public at-large by keeping individuals and families in fear of deportation, hesitant to report crimes, and prohibited from seeking educational and employment opportunities.
The filing broadly supports the administration’s fully constitutional use of prosecutorial discretion through the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programs, also referred to as DAPA and DACA.
The full legal brief is available online.
“Every day that the U.S. Congress refuses to address comprehensive immigration reform is another day at risk for millions of immigrant families,” said the Reverend Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the PC(USA). “The relief offered by the expansion of DACA and the creation of DAPA, while not enough, will at least abate that risk for 4.5 million of our brothers and sisters. I join in this brief and lift up prayers for those whose lives can be made better with a ruling in favor of DACA and DAPA.”
Quotes from other organizations that joined the brief are below:
“The Supreme Court has held that the well-being of the family and the protection of children are central to considering the impact of immigration law and policy. Bread for the World encourages the court to consider the experiences of families escaping hunger, poverty, and violence, whose situations are made worse by deportation and detention. We urge the court to uphold the administration’s immigration guidelines.” (The Reverend David Beckmann; President, Bread for the World)
“We stand in solidarity … with the millions of aspiring American families who ask the Court to alleviate their constant fear of deportation by upholding the President’s executive actions. As a Catholic Sister and a lawyer, I have confidence that the Supreme Court will reach the right conclusion about the constitutionality of keeping mothers and fathers with their citizen children. These executive protections are pro-family and an important down payment toward a more just immigration system.” (Sister Simone Campbell, SSS; Executive Director, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice)
“Every day, the Catholic Church in the United States, in her social service agencies, hospitals, schools, and parishes, witnesses the human consequences of our broken immigration system. We urgently need relief and justice for our immigrant brothers and sisters and a legal process that respects each person’s dignity, protects human rights, and upholds the rule of law. Although far from ideal, DACA/DAPA does that by keeping many families together and protecting children.” (Bill Canny; Executive Director, Migration and Refugee Services, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops)
“Franciscan Action Network’s commitment to human dignity and equal justice led us to support DACA, which has been proven successful and should be expanded. Because family separation is very detrimental not only for the families but for the social fabric of our country, FAN strongly supports DAPA.” (Patrick Carolan; Executive Director, Franciscan Action Network)
“Hope is the heart of our Christian faith; offering the ability to imagine another way, a way out of suffering, and a better future where God’s word and promises prevail. DACA eligible youth, and the DAPA parents who could be served through the President’s Executive Action, are treasures of talents who are eager both to experience hope and to offer hope to our society, as they are allowed to work, study, and contribute more fully among us. Through our participation in this Amicus Brief, we are grateful to join other faith voices in giving testimony to the strengths and courage we see in our immigrant neighbors and church families. Let us no longer defer their hope, knowing it “makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12). Instead, may the fear and pain of families find relief through a full rollout of DACA and DAPA, as announced through the President’s Executive Action.” (The Reverend Dr. Ronald J. Degges; President, Disciples Home Missions)
“President Obama’s executive actions on DAPA and expanded DACA would defer deportation of some five million people, grant the affected individuals legal status and work permits, and preserve families and communities—as well as afford economic benefits that will reach every part of the economy. AJC believes that these executive actions fall within the President’s constitutional authority, and urges the Supreme Court to so hold. However the Court ultimately rules, AJC underscores, as we have in the past, the urgent moral—and practical—need for the Administration and Congress to make it the utmost priority to bring undocumented immigrants out of the shadows. The continuation of the status quo is an unsustainable policy, fails to address national security concerns, and does not comport with American values to respect and defend human dignity. Only by working together can the Administration and Congress provide a permanent and durable solution for our broken immigration system.” (Richard T. Foltin; Director of National and Legislative Affairs, American Jewish Committee [AJC])
"United Methodists across the United States witness firsthand the impacts of our broken immigration system on families, congregations and communities. The President’s Executive Actions to expand Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and create Deferred Action for the Parents of Americans (DAPA) provided critical relief for millions of our neighbors wanting to work, study, and worship without fear of deportation. We urge the Supreme Court to uphold these actions and affirm the importance of protecting children, strengthening families, and respecting the dignity of all people.” (The Reverend Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe; General Secretary, The United Methodist Church—General Board of Church and Society)
“As an organization of 37 Protestant communions, Church World Service recognizes the often tragic impact that our nation’s outdated and immoral immigration has on families and communities. President Obama’s executive actions on DAPA and expanded DACA would provide over five million people with relief from fear of deportation, keeping families and communities united and whole. As people of faith, we are proud to stand in solidarity with our immigrant brothers and sisters in asking that the Supreme Court act with moral courage and stand on the side of families.” (The Reverend John L. McCullough; President and CEO of Church World Service)
“As women of faith, we take seriously the Gospel command to welcome the stranger and care for those in need. Catholic sisters came to these shores as immigrants to serve immigrant populations. We know the suffering of families torn apart by needless deportations and children who live in fear that their parents will be taken from them. That is why we are parties to this amicus brief and why we are committed to ensuring the implementation of the expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the Deferred Action for the Parents of Americans (DAPA) programs.” (Joan Marie Steadman, CSC; Executive Director, Leadership Conference of Women Religious)
“We are proud to join with our fellow people of faith in this vital cause. We will continue to pray that the Supreme Court—and indeed, the entire nation—lives up to our highest ideals. Our sacred texts and traditions call us to ‘welcome the stranger’ and to value the bonds of family.” (The Reverend Jim Wallis; President and Founder, Sojourners)