As Christians we hold fast to the wisdom our scripture puts before us. Leviticus 19:33-34 states: “When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”

We hold this as a foundational moral truth to our call to seek justice for our immigrant neighbors.

We are happy to celebrate Immigrant Heritage Month this June. Since 2014, this month has encouraged us to share the stories of our manifold cultural roots and appreciate the ways in which diversity enriches our country and our local communities.

While this month is a time to celebrate and rejoice, it also marks two anniversaries that remind us of the ways in which our immigration system needs reform. June 15 marked nine years since the creation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. DACA offers two-year renewable residency permits to approximately 700,000 undocumented young adults brought to the United States as children, also known as Dreamers.

Despite the fact that DACA protects young people who had no choice in coming here and know no other home but America, President Trump abruptly terminated the program in 2017. June 18 marked one year since the Supreme Court ruled that his termination of DACA was unlawful, but the program remains vulnerable to continued legal challenges.

The anniversaries of June 15 and June 18 highlight why we must pass the bipartisan DREAM Act to help the two million Dreamers currently working and attending school in the United States. The DREAM Act would allow Dreamers to become American citizens so long as they do not have a criminal record and have obtained a high school diploma/GED.

Citizenship for Dreamers makes common sense: they pay taxes, create jobs, and even serve in our military, yet they receive none of the benefits and stability that U.S. citizenship provides. Even as they live in fear of deportation every day, Dreamers are integral members of their communities who add tremendous value to our country and economy.

The DREAM Act is one of the few immigration bills that has strong bipartisan support. According to recent surveys, 75 percent of American voters agree that Dreamers should be allowed to remain in the United States while they work and/or attend school and that they deserve a pathway to citizenship.

Our current immigration system is one that facilitates the separation of families and embeds the fear of deportation into young undocumented immigrants. Passing the DREAM Act will promote the mission of Immigrant Heritage Month and help steer our immigration system in the right direction.

While we celebrate the many diversities of the American people, let us also take action and invite Dreamers into our celebration. The DREAM Act is one piece of legislation that cannot wait any longer, as it stands to protect a deserving group of young people while also helping our nation’s economy as we recover from the pandemic.

Here in Maine this would have a positive impact on our significant immigrant population, and in fact to all Mainers. In Maine alone, we are 16,000 workers short in the hospitality industry. To give young people a path to citizenship provides access and stability for young immigrants to fully participate as members of our society.

These are the reasons we need senators on both sides of the aisle to come together and bring the DREAM Act to fruition. Let us remember that we were all once “aliens in the land”, and that we are called to treat the stranger as our neighbor and to love them as ourselves.

— Special to the Press Herald


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