Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly Stated Clerk J. Herbert Nelson, II, today condemned the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA has provided protection for some 800,000 individuals who were brought to the United States by their parents without proper immigration papers.
“The program offered empowerment to those made vulnerable by a failure in our laws,” Nelson told the president. “[This action] is an attempt to return them to vulnerability.”
Nelson pledged that the PC(USA) would continue to “advocate for just immigration reform” and “for just immigration enforcement that intentionally considers the hardship of family separation and the sincere expressed determination in building family and community in the United States. Dreamers and DACA recipients have done just that.”
The full text of Nelson’s letter to the president, dated September 5, 2017:
Dear Mr. President,
I am appalled that you have ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. As the top elected ecclesial officer of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), a denomination of 1.5 million members, I protest your decision.
DACA has provided safety and protection for approximately 800,000 individuals from detention and deportation. The program offered empowerment to those made vulnerable by a failure in our laws. DACA recipients seized this opportunity by engaging this democracy through civic action. Our nation is better for it. They improved their professional and educational levels. Our economy is better for it. They fulfilled the requirements of the program and provided personal information and submitted themselves to background checks. Our country is safer for it. Your decision now pushes these empowered and responsible individuals into making unthinkable choices about how to maintain their families. It is an attempt to return them to vulnerability.
The PC(USA), as a national church, supports the presence and contributions of immigrants in the United States. We advocate for just immigration reform. We advocate for just immigration enforcement that intentionally considers the hardship of family separation and the sincere expressed determination in building family and community in the United States. Dreamers and DACA recipients have done just that. They often know this country more than the one they left behind. They have made friends; they have studied in schools; they have, after years of contemplating a future clouded by the threat of deportation, begun to fully dream about their future.
DACA recipients are not strangers. They are neighbors. They are active participants in civil society. They have fought for their rights. They have been compliant with immigration requirements. Turning your back on them is turning your back on the possibility and potential of what they offer this country. The PC(USA) grieves this decision. We vow to accompany those who are now at risk. We will continue the fight to seek a permanent solution to their immigration limbo. It is the right thing to do. It reflects our values as a church and it reflects our values as citizens of the United States.
“So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest-time, if we do not give up.”—Galatians 6:9
The Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)