This article was originally pubilshed on The Hill on April 16, 2015: http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/civil-rights/238995-its-a-moral-tragedy-to-continue-the-delay-on-obamas
Justice delayed is justice denied. Last July, we stood in front of the White House with 112 clergy and immigrant leaders in civil disobedience to tell President Barack Obama that we could not wait for relief from deportation any longer.
After continued delays from the Administration, relief from deportations for immigrant families is once again delayed – this time by the courts. Motivated more by political ambition than the common good, state governors and attorney generals have used the courts as a platform to attack immigrant families by suing the Administration. This has resulted in an injunction that experts say is out of step with mainstream legal thought on Presidential authority and the exercise of prosecutorial discretion. And we also should not forget that the President only acted after it was abundantly clear that House Republican leaders effectively killed any hope of commonsense immigration reform despite broad support by the American people.
As the court case moves to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals this week, Church World Service and the United Church of Christ signed onto an amicus brief with 17 other faith-based organizations and congregations. We filed this friend-of-the-court brief because of the harm this injunction has caused to millions of immigrant families – who continue to live in limbo and fear of deportation – and the impact on our own organizations. Many of our faith communities and refugee resettlement offices have spent months preparing legal services for the implementation of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA).
Last summer, Marco Tulio Coss Ponce, a hard working father of U.S. citizen children, was given a deportation order. Thanks to the work and advocacy of Shadow Rock United Church of Christ and the sanctuary movement – a network of congregations providing immigrants safe haven from deportation – Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) granted Marco a one-year order of supervision allowing him to remain in the United States with his family, but he could still be deported by ICE.
Unless ICE provides additional relief, Marco will once again be in limbo on June 24th when the order expires. If President Obama’s executive actions were not recklessly held up in the courts, Marco Tulio could potentially be eligible to apply for DAPA and seeking the security of knowing he would not be separated from his wife and children. Instead, his four children could soon be wondering if their dad will even come home from work, lest he become another victim of our nation’s deportation machinery.
Thousands of clergy have signed letters and made calls in support of the President’s executive actions on immigration. Hundreds of faith leaders have participated in civil disobedience to stop deportations. The faith community across all our traditions has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to family unity and reunification. Now, how long will our courts litigate and delay justice? How long will children wonder if their parents will be coming home?
However long we must wait, the need is urgent and our network of congregations and service providers stand ready to assist in the application process to welcome these new Americans who are already a part of our congregations, communities and our country. In the mean time, we pray that the courts, judges, legislators and American people remember the common values we all aspire to, which is the most basic of Sunday school lessons: to love our neighbors.
Rev. Linda Jaramillo is the Executive Minister for Justice & Witness Ministries of the United Church of Christ. Rev. John L. McCullough is the President and CEO of Church World Service.