UCC Leaders Applaud President Obama's "Immigrant Accountability Executive Action"

UCC Leaders Applaud President Obama's "Immigrant Accountability Executive Action"

by Justice & Witness Ministries, United Church of Christ & the UCC Immigration Task Force
November 21, 2014

View this material on the UCC website.  Also, view "Faith Talking Points"  here.

Justice and Witness Ministries of the United Church of Christ and the UCC Immigration Taskforce applaud President Obama's “Immigration Accountability Executive Action” that will offer millions of our undocumented community members the opportunity to apply for temporary relief from deportation.

Rev. Linda Jaramillo Executive Minister for the Justice and Witness Ministries responded saying, "Leaders from throughout the United Church of Christ have been working hard to change our broken immigration policies for years. We have advocated, held vigils, marched, fasted and joined in civil disobedience to stop the deportations and stop family separations. We are deeply heartened that the President’s executive action reflects the call to hospitality and welcome that is at the heart of our faith traditions and is a core American value. We applaud the President for this historic move to do the morally right thing and provide relief from deportation for 5 million people. In the absence of congressional responsibility to address immigration reform, the President’s action was essential to address this critical national issue.“

This Executive Action on immigration will allow parents of U.S. Citizens or Legal Permanent Residents to apply for temporary relief from deportation with the ability to work legally and travel. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival has already benefitted more than 500,000 DREAMers and will be now expanded by removing the age cap for individuals who arrived by January 1, 2010 and before they turned 16. Additionally, U.S. Citizens and Legal Permanent Residents with an undocumented spouse or eligible family member will be able to apply for a waiver allowing them to remain in the U.S. while they await their family reunification visa.

The administration estimates this will shield 5 million from deportation, but that still leaves 6 million undocumented people out. “As the United Church of Christ, we must always remember those placed on the margins, those often unaccepted, so we will continue to outreach to those in need through our local ministries. We will continue to pray and walk alongside our immigrant brothers and sisters who are not eligible and commit to advocating for an inclusive implementation process," said Rev. Jaramillo.

Concern goes out to the LGBT undocumented community who face family rejection in their countries of origin and/or in the United States, as well as gaps in the recognition of their familial relationships, which will make it difficult for many to meet criteria based on family links. We will continue to advocate for the 267,000 undocumented LGBT people in the U.S. to be somehow included in the implementation process.

Many UCC congregations have been involved with the effort to stop or limit the enforcement mechanism, “Secure Communities" or S-COM that uses local police as a force multiplier for immigration officers. We congratulate the Administration for ending S-COM, a program that had unjustly deported too many people and put the public safety at risk. The UCC will monitor the new Priority Enforcement Program closely to protect the civil and human rights of all immigrants.

The administration is also planning to re-direct resources for more border enforcement, but the Border Patrol has massive problems with corruption, excessive use of force and lack of accountability.  The UCC supports advocacy efforts for the new resources to be used on increasing accountability for Border Patrol including short-term custody standards, lapel cameras and a functional complaint process with follow up investigation.

As we continue to reflect on the gains for human rights in this historic moment we remember that in the UCC we are called to offer an extravagant welcome. We again look to our sacred texts in Exodus 23:9 "You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart of a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt," which President Obama also recognized in his speech.

Rev. Noel Anderson
UCC & CWS Grassroots Coordinator for Immigrants' Rights
100 Maryland Avenue, NE
Washington, District of Columbia 20002
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