Until every ‘DREAMer’ can dream again

By the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez

Hundreds of thousands of Hispanic young people are frightened and grieving following the White House’s decision on Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA).

Simultaneously, a multi-ethnic coalition of tens of millions of law-abiding U.S. citizens have begun to put unrelenting pressure on members of Congress to provide a permanent solution for DREAMers, whose fate is in question through no fault of their own.

For far too long in this country, Hispanic young people have been the political bargaining chips of our powerful politicians. It is an inhumane affront to the sanctity of life. And the Hispanic community will stand for it no longer. Time and again, our elected members of Congress have professed concern for the Hispanic community, yet have chosen to do nothing. We will not distinguish between Republicans and Democrats but between those who stand for righteousness and justice and those who do not.

Among other actions, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) will temporarily relocate additional staff to Washington, D.C., launch a national media campaign, rally tens of thousands of the nation’s spiritual leaders, and coordinate weekly meetings on Capitol Hill and in state capitols. Additionally, NHCLC will organize a “fly-in” of hundreds of prominent Hispanic leaders from throughout North America for a prayer meeting on the evening of Oct. 30, followed by a series of Congressional visits on Oct. 31.

I am disappointed that these protections are ending, and I have expressed that disappointment to the White House directly. I also understand the reason that this course of action was chosen. If the fate of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) is any indication, then it was only a matter of time before DACA would face a similar fate in the courts. In fact, the entire program could cease immediately by court order, rather than being phased out.

Thankfully, it is the job of Congress to make laws, and now the president has provided Congress a six-month window to legislate a more permanent and legally defensible solution for DREAMers. Six months is too long. We will demand action from Congress within 60 days. We do not intend to allow a single member of Congress to have a good night’s rest until they guarantee that our young people can rest easy. We will not be silent until every DREAMer can dream again.

Editor’s Note: In the context of immigration reform, a DREAMer refers to a young person who qualifies for the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) and Delayed Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, a nonpartisan organization long numbered among the nation’s foremost advocates for comprehensive immigration reform. He has been named by CNN and Fox News as the “leader of the Hispanic Evangelical Movement,” and TIME magazine nominated him among the 100 most influential leaders in America.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of American Baptist Home Mission Societies.