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Faith leaders: Christian politicians who hurt migrants, hurt Jesus

01 Nov 2017 – By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Some carried cards with a photo of St. Teresa of Kolkata or Blessed Oscar Romero and stood near the U.S. Capitol on the feast of All Saints Nov. 1, calling on politicians who call themselves Christian to act as Jesus would when shaping laws that affect migrants.

“To the senators and representatives who call yourselves Christians ... the Bible says that that which you do to the most marginalized among us, you do to Christ himself,” said the Rev. Jennifer Butler, CEO of Washington-based advocacy group Faith in Public Life.

She was one in a crowd of more than two dozen religious leaders gathered outside of Congress to primarily call on politicians to pass — and pass soon — legislation to help youth who were brought to the U.S. illegally as minors.

However, like others in the group, she also spoke about a general sense of discrimination toward many other immigrants in the country. She called on politicians to avoid using a bill that would help the young migrants to hurt other groups of migrants.

The group asked lawmakers to pass the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act. In theory, the measure would help youth and young adults, brought illegally into the country as minors, attain some form of immigration relief.

Though first introduced in 2001, the bill has never passed, but many see it as the most promising way for some 800,000 youth who are in the country illegally and who, until recently, could apply for a work permit and a reprieve from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA. The program was put into place in 2012 by then-President Barack Obama.

In September, President Donald Trump rescinded the program and asked Congress to find a legislative fix. Some have suggested a version of the DREAM Act as that fix. Because of the DREAM acronym, those who could qualify are popularly known as “Dreamers.”

“On Sept 5, in a stroke of profound cruelty, President Trump terminated (DACA) putting hundreds of thousands of immigrant youth at risk of deportation and out of a job when their work permits expire in March,” said Rev. Butler. “Congress must now right this wrong.”

She added: “To turn your back on Dreamers is to turn your back on Christ.”

Some believe that the only way politicians will pass the DREAM Act is in exchange for more money to fund a border wall with Mexico or for more federal money for actions that supporters of the bill say would harm migrants. But the religious leaders who gathered outside Congress said such funding measures not only treat the young migrants as pawns and also are not actions worthy of the men and women serving in Congress who call themselves Christian.

Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-California, one of the co-authors of the DREAM Act, stood with the group to deliver a message to Trump and others.

“Mr. President, Scripture tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves. By breaking up families and upending the lives of Dreamers, you and (House) Speaker (Paul) Ryan are not being good Samaritans,” she said.

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