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Evangelical Leaders Celebrate Implementation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

Evangelical Leaders Celebrate Implementation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

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Washington, D.C. — Today, the Department of Homeland Security has begun accepting applications for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an initiative that will temporarily remove the threat of deportation from certain young people who were brought to the United States as children and allow them to apply for a work permit. The following are statements from evangelical leaders: Leith Anderson, President of the National Association of Evangelicals “Today dreams come true for young immigrants who have grown up in America. Now let us all dream of our country with new immigration laws of opportunity and justice for all.” Stephan Bauman, President and CEO, World Relief “We are encouraged today that the administration has released guidelines on deferred action. These new guidelines are a step forward in formalizing this relief and helping ensure immigrants are not taken advantage of by unscrupulous, unauthorized legal service providers. World Relief’s network of Board of Immigration Appeals–recognized offices will be working alongside our church partners to provide accurate information and authorized legal assistance through this process. We strongly encourage those seeking assistance to ensure that they consult with a specialized immigration attorney or a nonprofit organization that is recognized by the federal Board of Immigration Appeals, and we encourage local churches to make referrals to such organizations rather than to provide well-meaning but potentially harmful legal advice and assistance. We continue to hope that Congress will have the courage to pass broader, more permanent reforms of our broken immigration system.” Noel Castellanos, CEO, Christian Community Development Association “With the new guidelines out for deferred deportation of our ‘Dreamers,’ there is a new urgency to continue working and praying for comprehensive reform of our broken immigration system.” The Reverend Luis Cortes, Jr., President, Esperanza “Today, August 15, 2012, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has begun accepting deferred action applications from immigrant youth who arrived in this country as children. While this process will no doubt open doors for many, those individuals who submit false or misleading information, or who apply despite being ineligible, will be putting themselves in serious danger of deportation. Esperanza strongly encourages potential applicants to seek reliable, trustworthy advice to ensure that they obtain the many benefits that this process affords. Spanish-speaking applicants in particular need to remember that, unlike in many Hispanic countries, notary publics, or notarios, are not authorized to provide legal advice and cannot help fill out the deferred action application. Unfortunately, there are many unscrupulous practitioners who are eager to take advantage of this unprecedented opportunity for their own personal gain. We want to warn immigrants: Do not be scammed or tricked into filing an application with false information and do not pay money for services that seem 'too good to be true.' If necessary, seek the advice of an experienced immigration attorney or a BIA-accredited representative at a nonprofit organization.” Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference “We applaud the Obama Administration for taking this bold first step on behalf of our young people. Now we urge Congress to keep pressing forward to pass a new immigration policy that will meet the needs of the 21st century. “As DHS launches the deferred action process today, over 1 million American-raised young immigrants will be empowered to personally grow and simultaneously serve our nation via the academy, military service, work and other significant contributions. A website is available to answer questions and provide up-to-date information regarding deferred action and work permits, and it will help eliminate the fears and concerns of the parents of the Hispanic youth who may feel they are in danger of retribution in subsequent months. We affirm the process and we encourage churches and faith leaders to walk with our youth and assist in addressing legal and financial concerns. For as these children benefit from deferred action, our nation will come to realize that they represent not a burden but a blessing to the collective American experience.” Jim Wallis, President and CEO, Sojourners “Hope is not often the result of political decisions in Washington. But, the Obama Administration’s recent decision to defer action against undocumented young people who came to this country as children with their parents is one of the most hopeful government actions in many years. The application process on deferred action will help almost a million young people to be eligible for work permits and take them out of the deportation pipeline, easing their burden tremendously. This, and other courageous decisions, is what could begin to restore citizens’ confidence and trust in our government. This is also one piece to the broader solution that’s needed to fix our country’s impracticable immigration system, as there will still remain millions of undocumented immigrants in the country.” Robert Gittelson, Co-Founder, Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform “The date of 8/15/12 will prove to be momentous in the lives of those fortunate few young and high-achieving men and women who will be allowed to emerge out of the shadows of our society. But even as we are joyful for these few, we remain anxious for the many. While the president’s implementation of deferred action for young people who were brought here as children is merciful, we are reminded that it is also temporary. While it is a step forward, we wonder where we are being led, or even if we are being led at all. This action is a Band-Aid where major surgery is actually required. So while we celebrate for this small minority of the undocumented population, we pray for the vast majority that remain hidden in the shadows. The date of 8/15/12 is a bittersweet reminder that, to date, we have no leadership from either party in Washington toward the actual goal of a comprehensive and permanent solution to our immigration crisis. We pray that 2013 brings courage and wisdom to our leaders, so that they can, once and for all, solve this issue through just, balanced and judicious legislation.”