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'Dreamers' Sue Trump Administration Over DACA Decision; Christian Leaders React

( [email protected] ) Sep 18, 2017 12:45 PM EDT
Six DACA recipients in California announced they are suing President Donald Trump over his decision to rescind key protections for young immigrants without legal status
Supporters of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program (DACA) demonstrate on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House on Sept. 9. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

Six DACA recipients in California announced they are suing President Donald Trump over his decision to rescind key protections for young immigrants without legal status.

According to Politico, the suit, filed by half a dozen "Dreamers," claimed Trump's decision to phase out the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program over the next six months "was motivated by unconstitutional bias against Mexicans and Latinos."

"Notwithstanding the severe harm it will inflict, the government arbitrarily decided to break its promises to Plaintiffs and hundreds of thousands of other Dreamers by terminating the DACA program," it reads, in part. "This cruel bait and switch, which was motivated by unconstitutional bias against Mexicans and Latinos, violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment, the due process rights of Plaintiffs and other DACA recipients, and federal law, including the Administrative Procedure Act."

The federal DACA program, started by former President Obama in 2012, protects from deportation nearly 800,000 immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, providing recipients with renewable two-year work permits. During his time on the campaign trail, President Trump vowed to "immediately terminate President Obama's... illegal executive amnesties in which he defied federal law and the Constitution to give amnesty to approximately five million illegal immigrants." 

In June, the attorneys general of ten states (along with one governor) signed a letter asking the president to rescind DACA, arguing that the program is an unconstitutional overreach of executive power. 

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions first announced that DACA would be "rescinded" earlier this month, as the policy was implemented "unilaterally to great controversy and legal concern after Congress rejected legislative proposals to extend similar benefits on numerous occasions to this same group of illegal aliens."

"In other words, the executive branch, through DACA, deliberately sought to achieve what the legislative branch specifically refused to authorize on multiple occasions. Such an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the Executive Branch," he explained.

Politico notes that a total of fifteen states filed suit earlier this month in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, and last week, four other states filed a similar case in San Francisco. The University of California also filed its own suit over the move. The case filed Monday is the lawsuit filed only on behalf of the Dreamers, however. 

"The decision to end DACA is not only inexplicable and immoral, it is unconstitutional," said attorney Ted Boutrous. "These young people were able to attend college, open businesses, and give back to their communities because they trusted the government to honor its promises and live up to its word. In suddenly and arbitrarily breaking those promises, the government is in direct violation of the Due Process Clause and federal law."

A number of Christian leaders have weighed in on the issue, including Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC).

"Hundreds of thousands of Hispanic young people will be overcome with fear and grief today," he said following Sessions' announcement. "Simultaneously, a multiethnic coalition of tens of millions of law-abiding US citizens will begin to put unrelenting pressure on members of Congress to provide a permanent solution for Dreamers, whose fate is in question by no fault of their own."

Lynne Hybels, advocate for global engagement at Willow Creek Community Church, stated that her megachurch has "witnessed firsthand the hope that the DACA program has brought to individuals who have wanted nothing more than the chance to pursue an education and lead a productive life, just as our own children have done. To end the program now, without action from Congress first, would be devastating-for them and for the communities that benefit from their work, ingenuity, and courage."

Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, said: "Congress should do the right thing and provide a solution for those who were brought here by parents as children. And churches will be here to speak hope to children now thrown into fear and insecurity about their families and futures."

Other religious leaders, however, defended the decision: Robert Jeffress, a Southern Baptist pastor and leader of the megachurch First Baptist Dallas, said that while Christian compassion is important, "The Bible also says that God is the one who established nations and its borders."

"God is not necessarily an open borders guy, as a lot of people would think that he is," he said.

Televangelist James Robison, who has met with and advised governmental leaders since 1980, said Trump is "correcting something that even the former president, who did the incorrect action, said was wrong in the first place."

"When are we going to stop the nonsense? When are the American people going say 'Enough is enough' and come together to reason like a family," he said.

"I believe that [Trump] could walk on water, raise the dead, heal the blind, heal the sick, perform miracle after miracle, and he would still be hated by today's liberal media. He would be accused, if we have 150 million people praising him for what he did because it was positive, the media would find two people to criticize him and that would be headlines."

According to a Morning Consult/Politico poll, two-thirds of American evangelicals favor giving work permits to Dreamers (66%) while far fewer oppose the permits (22%). Overall, 6 in 10 US evangelicals (57%) believe DACA recipients should be allowed to become citizens, while almost 2 in 10 (19%) believe they should be deported.

Tags : Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA, Dreamers, Trump administration, Donald Trump