ELCA NEWS SERVICE
June 19, 2012
ELCA leader grateful for halt in some youth deportations, but more to do
CHICAGO (ELCA) - Calling the Obama administration's decision to stop the deportation of young undocumented immigrants who meet certain criteria a step in the right direction, the Rev. H. Julian Gordy said there is still more to do.
Gordy said the administration's policy change, announced June 15, follows an action of the 2011 Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) that calls for comprehensive federal immigration reform and support for the DREAM Act -- legislation that would provide a path for citizenship for undocumented immigrant youth.
The administration's decision, however, falls short of what's called for in the DREAM Act, according to Gordy, who is bishop of the ELCA Southeastern Synod, Atlanta, and chair of the ELCA Conference of Bishops' Immigration Ready Bench.
"It doesn't allow a path for permanent legal status or citizenship," he said. The policy change "is simply a two-year renewable opportunity for young people to be in the United States legally and temporarily to search for work. It accomplishes some of the goals of the DREAM Act but not all of them. So there's more to do, but we're glad this much has been done."
The change would halt deportations and grant work permits to undocumented immigrant youth if they arrived in the United States before turning 16 and are younger than 30, do not have a criminal record, lived in the United States continuously for at least five years and have some educational achievement or military service, along with other criteria.
Gordy said that the ELCA and other U.S. mainline denominations have stressed the humanitarian aspect of immigration reform, "operating out of a sense that Scripture calls us to love the immigrant among us." He said businesses and many people in law enforcement also support immigration reform "because they believe it's good for business and better public safety."
Although the DREAM Act failed in the Senate in 2010, some senators have recently expressed support for different versions of the act, according to a Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service news release.
The Obama administration's announcement "builds on bipartisan interest in protecting immigrant youth from deportation and investing in them as future leaders of our great nation," said Linda Hartke, president and CEO of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.
Based in Baltimore, the agency is one of the nation's leaders in welcoming and advocating for refugees and immigrants, working on behalf of the ELCA.
ELCA congregations and Lutheran social ministry organizations provide critical services to migrant populations, spread the word of welcome and advocate for fair and humane immigration reform.
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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with 4.2 million members in 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.
For information contact:
Melissa Ramirez Cooper
773-380-2956 or Melissa.RamirezCooper@ELCA.org
Living Lutheran: http://www.livinglutheran.com