Dear Members of the United States Senate:
As a humanitarian agency that brings together 37 member communions, Church World Service seeks to fulfill the call to love our neighbor and welcome the stranger by protecting refugees internationally and advocating for just immigration policies here in the United States. This is why we write to you today, urging you to oppose the Immigration Rule of Law Act (S.534) introduced by Senator Collins (R-ME).
After years of failed Congressional attempts to enact immigration reform, we celebrate the President’s executive actions to expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and create the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program. We have witnessed the positive impact of DACA and the hope in communities after the recent executive order. Taking away this hope would be cruel and immoral, so we urge you to oppose S.534 and any legislation that would destroy the hope that many immigrant families have. CWS is deeply concerned about the negative impacts this legislation would have for individuals who might qualify for these programs, as well as the limitations it would place on prosecutorial discretion in the future, preventing the administration from doing its job to prioritize enforcement policies in line with our values and resources.
In addition to preventing the implementation of the DAPA program and the expansion of the DACA program, S.534 would eliminate all of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. This means that families would continue to be separated through bureaucratic visa and waiver delays. Programs that have increased racial profiling and reduced community safety would continue. Military personnel, entrepreneurs, high-skilled workers and graduating university students would be prevented from staying in the United States to contribute to our economy. In addition, section three would put victims who report domestic violence in danger of deportation—forcing victims to choose between their own safety and the risk of separation from their children, family, and community through deportation. Section five would halt adjudication of petitions made by vulnerable populations including asylum seekers, trafficking victims, victims of serious crimes and victims of domestic violence. S.534 would eliminate the ability of the administration to utilize prosecutorial discretion, which every administration in recent history has used. Immigration law is complex, and prosecutorial discretion is critical to ensuring that the U.S. remains a beacon of hope for individuals who are in need of protection and a place where family unity is valued.
As Congress considers S.534, CWS encourages all policy makers to stand with immigrant families and reject legislation that would result in the deportations of people who are contributing to and strengthening our communities. We pray that Congress considers the humanity of immigrants and the scriptural call to welcome the stranger and love our neighbors. Rather than legislation that would tear families apart and dash the hopes of young people and parents of U.S. citizen and permanent resident children, we urge Congress to support immigration policies that treat our neighbors with the dignity and respect that all people deserve.
Rev. John L. McCullough
President and CEO
Church World Service