4 Simple but Important Ways American Christians Can Support Dreamers

Photo by Nitish Meena on Unsplash

Many Latinos feel under attack by the United States.

In June, the Trump Administration rescinded DAPA, a protection which ensured that families with citizen children and undocumented parents would not be broken apart.

Then, last month, President Trump pardoned Sheriff Arpaio, a lawman found guilty of racial profiling and who has bragged about human rights violations in his infamous “Tent City.”

Finally, President Trump rescinded President Obama’s executive order commonly referred to as DACA. Through DACA, President Obama gave recognition to the 800,000+ undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. DACA allowed these undocumented immigrants, “DREAMers,” to obtain work permits and to live without fear of deportation so long as they signed up for the program.

By repealing DACA, President Trump has put the livelihoods and futures of 800,000+ people at risk and threatened the stability of many state and local economies and, consequently, the economic health of the whole country. President Trump’s motivation, it seems, was to shore up support from his Republican base by appealing, once again, to its most conservative wing.

President Trump’s actions are craven politics mixed with racial mistrust and inflammatory rhetoric. The victims of these actions now, understandably, fear for their future.

I won’t take the time to argue against the President’s actions. There are many other political analysts and legal experts far more equipped to do so than I.

My concerns are instead for the people. These policy decisions are not theoretical points of argumentation that remain in the halls of Congress. People are hurting. And people are who Christians should be worried about.

So how do we come alongside our neighbors? How do we support the DREAMers in the midst of this uncertainty and fear?

1. Listen with Love

No two people have identical stories. Listen to the DREAMers. Hear their dreams and learn about their passions. Discover why the President’s actions have made DREAMers feel that their contributions to the United States are unappreciated. Empathize with your neighbor and try to imagine being told that you may have to leave the only country you’ve known because of the accident of your place of birth and the actions of your parents.

This must be the first step. Before we all become amateur legal scholars we must remember that, for the Christian, people are more important than policies. Therefore our first concern is not someone’s legal status, but the way they are viewed by God. As God loves, so also we must love.

Step one of love is listening. But many of us don’t know a DREAMer. So how can we listen?

If you’re in that situation, I encourage you to read some of the stories coming out online. These stories humanize the 800,000+ DACA recipients. No longer are they a statistic or a political position. They are people loved by God. Christians have an opportunity to share the love of Jesus with their undocumented neighbors. May we not let this chance get by us.

2. Pray with Hope

President Trump seems to swing from one position to another depending on who is in the room with him at the time. Some are reporting that the President hopes to work with Congress to create a pathway to citizenship for DREAMers and yesterday he told DACA recipients that they had “nothing to worry about.”

Pray that this is true and that DREAMers will be able to stay in this country and easily move to citizenship. Also, pray that their contributions to the United States would not be ignored, but celebrated. And pray that they will be able to raise children of their own that don’t have to endure the racism and ethnocentrism that this generation has faced.

Finally, pray that churches would support the DREAMers in their congregations and that Christians would make an effort to express love to any DREAMers in their midst and in their communities.

We believe that prayer works. Prayer is not a fancy version of wishful thinking or tossing a coin in a well. Prayer is powerful because the God we pray to is powerful. So pray with the hope that God hears our prayers and that, when our prayers are aligned with his will, our prayers availeth much.

3. Advocate with Action

While listening and prayer are important, they should not stand apart from advocacy. We must speak up for those who are currently being ignored by the government. There are a couple easy ways you can do this.

First, call your congressperson. Congress has six months to come up with a solution that allows DREAMers to remain in this country and become citizens of the United States. Make plain the importance of this so that Congress doesn’t shift its attention to the next “flavor-of-the-week” political crisis. Call and email your congressperson so that they act on behalf of the 800,000+ men and women made vulnerable by the rescission of DACA.

Second, donate to those organizations who are helping DREAMers through the legal process of becoming citizens or to those advocacy groups who ensure that DREAMers have a voice in the public square. There may be no better way to show our support than to put our money where our heart lies.

Ideally, your local church would already be doing this. However, many of us serve or attend churches removed from DACA recipients or are financially unable to help. But that doesn’t mean you can’t give! Check out these organizations and donate to the one you think best.

4. Share with Joy

To end, I encourage you to both share with and share about our DREAMer neighbors. As you come across their stories or find tangible ways to help, share them on your social media feeds. Raise awareness and help educate the people in your life about the ways we can joyfully stand together for our neighbors.

But also, if you are able, share with the DREAMers. Some may be believers, but many are not. We do not love others as projects, only caring until we get to share the Gospel, but when there is an opportunity to share the love of Jesus, do so! Support churches that minister to undocumented men and women by giving financially or by encouraging your church toward a partnership with such a church.

Advocacy and sharing are costly, both financially and otherwise. But as we do we may find that we are doing the work of God by loving our neighbor well. I pray that you are spurred to action and that we will look back on this time fondly as an example of Christian faithfulness.

Marcos Ortega

Marcos Ortega (MDiv, Westminster Theological Seminary) is an Assistant Pastor at Goodwill Church (Evangelical Presbyterian Church) and lives in the Hudson River Valley in New York with his wife and two daughters.

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