PHARR, Texas (Border Report) — On the 10th anniversary of the implementation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), several faith-based and law enforcement groups are urging Congress to pass immigration reforms for a permanent pathway to citizenship for those who qualify.

On Sunday, a coalition of evangelical organizations called the Evangelical Immigration Table, sent a letter to Congress urging lawmakers to implement lasting immigration reform.

“Over the past decade, DACA has allowed hundreds of thousands of young people – including many who are integral members of evangelical churches, campuses and organizations – the opportunity to pursue their dreams, support their families and serve their communities. But DACA was originally envisioned as a temporary measure, and ten years after it was announced, it’s clear that it is past time for a permanent solution for Dreamers – one that only Congress can provide,” the letter reads.

The groups include the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention; National Association of Evangelicals; National Latino Evangelical Coalition; The Wesleyan Church
World Relief; and Bethany Christian Services. According to the letter, they want immigration reform that:

  • Respects the God-given dignity of every person.
  • Protects the unity of the immediate family
  • Respects the rule of law.
  • Guarantees secure national borders.
  • Ensures fairness to taxpayers.
  • Establishes a path toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify and who wish to become permanent residents

They cite a February poll that found 82% of evangelical Protestant voters nationwide support bipartisan efforts to find a pathway to citizenship for “Dreamers.”

The Trump administration had ended DACA but the Supreme Court ruled in June 2020 that the administration had done so improperly and in an “arbitrary and capricious manner.” The Biden administration re-established DACA and in September 2021 issued new rules to “preserve and fortify” the program to help thousands of undocumented youth who were brought to the United States as children.

In this Nov. 12, 2019, file photo people rally outside the Supreme Court as oral arguments are heard in the case of President Trump’s decision to end the Obama-era, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

“We are proud to stand arm-in-arm with our fellow evangelical Christians, urging the United States government to protect and defend these young people and their communities. We believe God has endowed all people with dignity, regardless of their ethnicity, race, or place of origin, and it is our responsibility to love these neighbors as the Lord loves us, welcoming them with open arms. We pray for and ask that, on the 10th anniversary of the DACA program, Congress would pass sweeping legislation to aid in the protection of Dreamers permanently,” Shirley Hoogstra, president of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities, said in a statement.

“All children – regardless of where they are from or what they have been through – deserve to be loved, safe, and connected. We are grateful for temporary protections for Dreamers and urge Congress to act now, ensuring our friends, neighbors, and colleagues have the opportunity to pursue permanent legal status in the country they have called home for the majority of their lives,” said Chris Palusky, president and CEO of Bethany Christian Services.

Studies show DACA recipients and their households pay $5.6 billion in federal taxes and about $3.1 billion in state and local taxes annually, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

On Monday, the Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force also issued statements urging Congress to act quickly and swiftly for “Dreamers” who are not covered under DACA.

The DACA policy, which was implemented during the Obama administration, helps law enforcement to build trust and a rapport with immigrant communities, especially those who are undocumented. But finding a permanent pathway to citizenship is the only avenue for these populations to thrive in the United States and reside legally and find meaningful work that will sustain generations, they said in a statement.

“After 10 years of DACA, it is clear that Dreamers are contributing members of our communities. They help keep our nation safe, yet many live in fear of being undocumented. I urge lawmakers to work across party lines and find a permanent solution that allows law-abiding Dreamers to feel secure in their communities,” Pharr Police Chief Andy Harvey said.

“Law enforcement depends on the trust of our communities, and DACA has helped build this trust. As a law enforcement leader, I know that when immigrants feel safe in their communities, we are all safer,” said police Chief David Valentin of Santa Ana, California. “A bipartisan permanent solution to protect Dreamers would increase trust between law enforcement and immigrant communities by encouraging immigrants, regardless of status, to feel safe engaging with local law enforcement.”