CWS Statement to the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary pertaining to its hearing, entitled “Protecting Dreamers and TPS Recipients” on Wednesday, March 6, 2019

March 5, 2019

As a 73-year old humanitarian organization representing 37 Protestant, Anglican and Orthodox communions and 23 refugee resettlement offices across the country, Church World Service (CWS) urges the Committee to affirm the need and urgency to pass a permanent, legislative solution for all 1.8 million+ dreamers, 300,000+ Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, and 4,000+ Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) recipients that includes a pathway to citizenship. It is equally important that any legislative solution does not violate the sanctity of family unity, contain harmful border militarization provisions, nor expand immigrant detention or the deportation force. We urge Congress to swiftly pass legislation, such as the Dream and Promise Act of 2019, to protect our immigrant neighbors and keep families together.

Dreamers deserve a meaningful permanent solution with a pathway to citizenship that treats all dreamers with the dignity they deserve. Dreamers worship in our pews, study in our schools, and work in our communities. For many, this is where they learned to ride a bike, celebrate our nation’s holidays, and serve their communities. They are mothers, fathers, teachers, nurses, lawyers, scientists, and leaders of a new generation of Americans – and they make our nation stronger. Court intervention notwithstanding, it was an immoral decision to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) before legislation was enacted to protect DACA recipients from deportation. A pathway to citizenship for dreamers has enjoyed broad support from the faith community, state and local elected leaders, business leaders, and faith and secular educators. Every day that a real solution is delayed, countless members of our community have to live in anxiety and fear, unsure if they will be allowed to stay in the country they call home, or if they will be forcibly returned to nations they have never really known. Despite ongoing litigation that allows current DACA recipients to renew their status, no new DACA applications are being accepted and undocumented youth are left in limbo. Congress must invest in a compassionate, long-term solution that honors our nation’s commitment to families and provides dreamers with a pathway to citizenship.

CWS calls on Congress to create a pathway to citizenship for all TPS holders and DED recipients. TPS holders and DED recipients, left without an opportunity to stabilize their immigration status, live in fear of family separation and deportation. The administration’s termination of protections for TPS holders from Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Liberia, Nepal, Honduras and for those from countries for which the TPS status was not re-designated are immoral and an affront to our American values. Lawsuits and investigations consistently surfaced the dangerous or unsafe country conditions in countries that received a TPS termination or was not re-designated for protection. The administration has repeatedly attacked TPS holders and DED recipients and turned our nation’s back on these individuals we promised to protect. The administration’s wrongful decisions put approximately 300,000 people who are legally living and working in the United States at risk of deportation and will cause irreparable harm to families and our economy. We urge Congress to swiftly pass legislation that allows TPS holders and DED recipients to remain in the United States and pursue a pathway to citizenship.

Families are the cornerstone of a community; they are what holds us together. The communities harmed by the termination of DACA and multiple TPS designations have a lot in common, including being from the same countries, sharing an urgent need for relief, and often being members of the same families. It is imperative that Congress does not pair relief for dreamers, TPS holders, and DED recipients with a policy that puts their parents, siblings, and other immigrants at increased risk of deportation or detention or further infringes upon the rights and safety of border communities. Increased enforcement is not the remedy. Our immigration system leaves millions unjustly detained, separated from family, and locked out of regularizing their status.

CWS urges you to support and pass a permanent, legislative solution with a pathway to citizenship for all dreamers, TPS holders, and DED recipients. As a faith-based organization, we hope that Congress will find the compassion and love that we have learned from Leviticus 19:33-34, which reminds us: “Any immigrant who lives with you must be treated as if they were one of your citizens. You must love them as yourself, because you were immigrants in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.”