Anna first arrived in the United States when she was 2 years old. Her family was forced to flee Mexico due to their dangerous living environment that was rampant with crime and limited employment opportunities. Over the years, Anna’s parents worked hard to provide for their family; they purchased a home and pay taxes and social security, which they will never be able to collect. They faithfully attend church and are active in the community. With the opportunity provided by living in the U.S., Anna excelled at school, is now in her third year of college maintaining a 4.0 average with a complete scholarship from the Lilly Pharmaceutical Company, and is on her way to fulfilling her dream of becoming a medical doctor thanks to DACA.
DACA may not mean much to the average American. But to an immigrant college student like Anna, the decisions on DACA weigh heavy on their minds, families and hearts: What if I have to go back to the country of my parent’s origin? Where will I live? I will be totally separated from my family. How can I grasp the language? What will happen to my hopes and dreams?
As a Dreamer, Anna is grateful for the opportunities she has in the United States. Her parents didn’t have those opportunities in Mexico, where they didn’t have freedom and lived in fear. Her parents brought her to the U.S. because this country was different – it was built on the foundation of opportunity without fear - if you work hard here, you have the opportunity to do amazing things and achieve your dreams.
This foundation was strengthened by President Obama when he signed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act (DACA) in 2012. Through a detailed application processes, DACA allows undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children to obtain valid driver’s licenses, enroll in college and legally secure jobs. DACA has allowed millions of young people, including Anna, the opportunity to come out of the shadows and prosper and receive an education.
Today, President Trump’s administration announced plans to phase out DACA, effectively destroying the futures of millions of young people in this country by not allowing them to continue to work here, and in turn, destroying the very foundation of our country. The fate of Dreamers is now in the hands of Congress, which must move quickly to replace DACA with legislation.
As former superintendent and now ambassador for the Wesleyan Church denomination, I would like to remind President Trump, Congress and all people to welcome with open arms and not turn your back on the stranger. The Bible teaches us that all people, including immigrants of all faiths and backgrounds, are made in the image of God, with inherent dignity and potential. Join me in asking President Trump and the rest of our government to keep their moral compasses in check and lead with compassion, not fear.
Like Anna, there are many hard-working immigrants under the DACA program who will graduate and help the economy grow. We need to remove the stigma associated with immigrants and instead follow the bible’s direction to welcome the stranger. We need to remember that they too have futures to build and that America should continue to embrace these immigrants and allow them to prosper and achieve the “American Dream.”
Let us not forget that America was founded upon welcoming the stranger, just as it was founded on the principal of religious freedom. We have led the world in these principles and we should continue to do so. We are a nation of immigrants.
Let us work together to make great strides forward as a peaceful and unified world, country, and Church. Let us welcome the stranger.