CWS Statement: Amendments to Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Bill

February 2, 2015

Humanitarian organization Church World Service strongly opposes upcoming legislation that is harmful to immigrant communities.  As an organization convening 37 member communions, CWS draws from the Biblical call to love thy neighbor and welcome the immigrant by assisting displaced persons around the globe and by standing with our brothers and sisters to stop harmful deportations that tear families apart. As Members of Congress consider upcoming legislation, CWS encourages them to create policies that treat people and communities with dignity and humanity.

Proposed legislation in the House, including amendments to the Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill, would undermine the President’s legal and constitutional authority to relieve many families of the constant fear of deportation. CWS continues to stand behind recent action by the Administration to provide temporary relief from deportation to undocumented immigrants and urges Congress to support these actions. CWS encourages the House and Senate to firmly reject any proposal that would stop, interfere or weaken the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Deferred Action for the Parents of Americans programs and other provisions made possible through recent executive orders on immigration.1 Youth across the country have experienced the life-changing impact of DACA as they are able to legally work and pursue higher education in the United States. Within the CWS network there are many more who will likely qualify for expanded DACA and DAPA to have those opportunities as well. These individuals strengthen the fabric of their communities and any attempt to revoke these programs flies in the face of progress and hope.

CWS is strongly opposed to H.R. 399, The Secure Our Border First Act of 2015, introduced by Representative Michael McCaul (R-10-TX), which would increase racial profiling of individuals living along the border and set “operational control” goals that are unrealistic and ignore the fact that many individuals have legitimate claims to asylum. In spite of the Border Patrol’s increased problems with corruption, escalation of force and systemic abuse of migrants as it has doubled in size since 2004,2 this bill lacks any mechanisms for oversight and accountability. CWS urges Congress to instead support legislation that addresses the need for Border Patrol accountability, with short-term custody standards and a viable complaint process for victims of abuse.

The CWS network is also strongly opposed to H.R. 2278, the Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act. The “SAFE” act would be detrimental to entire communities, as it expands interior enforcement and inhumane immigration detention; promotes the collaboration of local police with immigration enforcement; and subjects family members, friends, clergy, and others who provide aid to immigrants to criminal penalties.3 CWS encourages members of the House and the Senate to reject these types of proposals and to instead craft policies that cultivate trust between enforcement officers and communities and create welcoming spaces for immigrant integration.

The faith community is also unanimously opposed to legislation that would rollback critical anti-trafficking protections for children and individuals seeking protection from persecution, including the improperly named “Protection of Children Act” (H.R.5143) and The Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act (H.R.5137), both of which would roll back the bipartisan Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act and would result in children being returned back into hands of traffickers, gangs and others who seek to exploit them.

The U.S. immigration system has been broken for far too long and recently proposed legislation, including amendments to the DHS appropriations bill and H.R. 399, are steps backwards for a system in great need of repair. CWS urges Congress to reject these proposals and to instead support policies that treat immigrants  with the dignity and respect all people deserve. CWS affirms policies that strengthen families by keeping them together and ending needless deportations; policies that increase the protection space available for children and other vulnerable individuals seeking safety and refuge; policies that strengthen border communities by treating people with dignity and increasing accountability for the Border Patrol; and policies that support the smooth implementation of the recent executive orders on immigration so that our community members can live without the fear of deportation. CWS holds true to the values of welcoming and loving immigrants among us, is committed to working with Congress and the Administration to see these values upheld in federal policies.