Top evangelical groups on Wednesday united in an effort to urge lawmakers to protect vulnerable communities, including the nearly 700,000 young immigrants protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
World Relief penned a letter, published as a full-page ad in The Washington Post, urging Congress and the White House to quickly act to protect DACA recipients, as well as refugees, persecuted Christians, and immigrant families waiting for reunification.
“Our prayer is that these young people would be allowed to continue contributing to our society without fear of deportation,” the letter said of DACA recipients.
World Relief said it has signatures of support from more than 1,200 pastors representing all 50 states.
Sens. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Angus King (I-Maine) joined World Relief for a Capitol Hill news conference Wednesday to promote the letter, along with evangelical leaders like Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; Shirley Hoogstra, president of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities; and Galen Carey of the National Association of Evangelicals.
Lawmakers are grappling with the tension between protecting DACA recipients, something that has broad bipartisan support, and more partisan immigration priorities, including border security measures. Making sure President Donald Trump will accept the final package has complicated the process.
“As we’re here, speaking not in favor of one bill over the other, we say to our elected leaders: Do not simply kick this down the road,” Moore said. “Do not ignore these people created in the image of God. Personal ambition or political calculation should never pave over the lives of people.”
Congressional leaders announced a bipartisan budget agreement Wednesday and plan to take action on immigration in a separate bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., plans to bring forward legislation next week that will include an open amendment process, allowing input from all lawmakers in a bid to negotiate a deal that can pass through a gridlocked Congress.
“I don’t want to make any promises but the U.S. Senate might actually be the U.S. Senate next week,” King said. “Hopefully what we’re going to end up with is amendments that can get 60 votes and we’ll have momentum going to the House and the president.” —E.W.