The bishops of the Episcopal dioceses of Massachusetts and Western Massachusetts today issued the following statement regarding the rescinding of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
As Episcopal bishops of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, we join our voices to raise up the issue of immigrants and immigration in the U.S. We are deeply saddened by the President’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), and to leave 800,000 DACA recipients, known as Dreamers, in a fearful six-month limbo. We urge members of Congress to quickly develop lasting legislative solutions for all immigrant families through bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform.
Attorney General Sessions has declared us “a people of compassion and a people of law.” These two things are not mutually exclusive. The decision to rescind this program is not compassionate.
As a people of faith, our rich diversity is rooted in the experience of leaving home and finding home. “You shall not oppress a resident alien; you know the heart of an alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt." (Exodus 23:9) Likewise, as a nation, we have always been a land of immigrants. We bear witness to the harmful effects of deportations on families and our neighbors every day and are called to speak for sound, humane and just immigration policies that respect the dignity of every human being.
The Episcopal Church has rooted its support for protecting these undocumented youth in our decades-long commitment to walking with immigrants and refugees, and our strong belief that these young Dreamers are children of God and deserve a chance to live full lives, free from fear of deportation to a country they have never been to or know little about.
All Christians have a particular obligation to the most vulnerable. A just and democratic government uses the rule of law to protect, to ensure, community rather than chaos. These Dreamers have done no wrong. We believe they are a blessing to us.
As bishops we promised to "show compassion to the poor and strangers, and defend those who have no helper." (Book of Common Prayer, p. 518) Together with leadership of the Episcopal Church nationally we urge Congress to provide a way for Dreamers to become U.S. citizens, and to enact moral and consistent immigration policy that allows immigrants who want to contribute to this country the chance to do so while keeping our borders secure.
DACA was more than a means to an end. DACA was the embodiment of our hope and an acknowledgement of the innocence and powerlessness of children everywhere. Giving these Dreamers a chance to live in the light and work toward citizenship was good for us. It was good for the soul of this great nation. The health of the soul of this nation depends upon our compassion and generosity towards Dreamers.
The Rt. Rev. Douglas J. Fisher, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts
The Rt. Rev. Alan M. Gates, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts
The Rt. Rev. Gayle E. Harris, Bishop Suffragan, Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts