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It’s time to stand up for Dreamers




Photo Credit: Rhododendrites / WikiMedia Commons (Licensed under Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0)

By Rev. Rich Nathan

Christians are commanded to love God and their neighbor. But readers of the Bible also know that immigrants are special to God. According to Jesus, to care for an immigrant, is to care for him! He said, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me in.”

In a recent Lifeway survey on evangelical attitudes toward immigration, some numbers reflect Jesus’ mandate. Nearly 80% of evangelicals support bipartisan immigration reforms that strengthen border security, establish a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers (those who were brought undocumented as children), and provide a reliable supply of safe, screened, legal farmworkers.

Unfortunately, by the end of 2022 we did not see a legal pathway to address the uncertainty lived by many immigrants. Despite all the efforts from different advocacy groups, no legislation was passed. On the contrary, Dreamers with legal protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program had their legal status thrown into jeopardy by two federal court decisions. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district court opinion declaring the program to be unlawful. The future of DACA recipients remains uncertain.

But I invite everyone to think about all the contributions that Dreamers can offer to our communities and to reflect on how uncertainty limits their lives. Take as an example, a Dreamer who is part of our church who wanted to become a doctor from a young age but despite her excellent grades, her legal status has limited her career path.

“I was placed on the waitlists of multiple medical schools here in Ohio. But I was told that I shouldn’t bother trying to go to medical school due to the uncertainty in the DACA program. Who will stand up for people like me who have tried with all their might to make America proud by being the best representative of her ideals?” she told us.

As a pastor, I want to believe that Christians can be the ones standing up for Dreamers. Recently, bipartisan senators introduced the Dream Act of 2023 in Congress. This legislation could bring Dreamers some light at the end of the tunnel.

Most Americans, including a majority of both Republicans and Democrats in another recent poll, want to see Congress take steps to begin to fix our broken immigration system. I urge Ohio senators to stand up for Dreamers and support bipartisan initiatives to offer them a legal path to citizenship.

Keep in mind those like the honor student in our church, whose hope to become a doctor has been derailed, and take action for a better future for them.

Rev. Rich Nathan is the founding pastor of Vineyard Columbus, a church he has pastored since 1987. Vineyard Columbus offers a wide range of services to immigrants in the Central Ohio community.

This commentary was republished from the Ohio Capital Journal under a Creative Commons license.

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