Civil and Human Rights: How The United Methodist Church Advocates

September 08, 2017
Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications
Hundreds march for DACA and the Dream Act leaving from Centennial Park and ending outside the offices of Senators Corker and Alexander in Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 5, 2017.
On Sept. 5, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump Administration is ending Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program established by former President Barack Obama that protected nearly 800,000 undocumented young people, also known as "Dreamers," from deportation by providing them with work authorization. The announcement also mandated Congress to pass a replacement before the administration begins phasing it out in six months.  

In response to the announcement to end DACA, the general boards of Church & Society and Global Ministries are offering resources (listed below) to inform and empower United Methodists into advocacy.

Bishop Karen Oliveto shares this message to the people of the Mountain Sky Area:

Dear siblings of the Mountain Sky Area,

“You shall not oppress a sojourner. You know the heart of a sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt." Exodus 23: 9

"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me." Matthew 25: 35

"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." Hebrews 13:2

Currently, nearly 800,000 young people are experiencing unnecessary trauma and fear as a result of the presidential decision to end DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), giving Congress six months to decide what to do with the program before it officially ends. DACA was put in place for those young people who were brought to the U.S. as children. For most of their lives, they lived in the shadows as undocumented minors. While this country they called home, their legal status made them strangers in a strange land.

DACA acknowledged their experience and sought to provide an avenue for stability and accountability – those who have been approved through DACA have gone through extensive background checks and must reapply every two years to renew their deferred deportation status.

These young people trusted our government and came forward to register themselves (which now not only places them but also their families at risk for deportation). They have been contributing to our society in all its sectors. They have been paying income taxes. They are our neighbors, friends, co-workers and classmates.

The Bible gives us an ethical mandate when it comes to our actions: love God and love others. This is the litmus test for our individual and communal decisions: does the action/statement/law help us love God and love others? One important group that the Bible especially highlights is the immigrant – one who is considered the stranger among us, who could be an angel in disguise.

As we consider the future of DACA, let us consider: what will enable us to love God and love others more deeply? Let your elected officials hear your voice. A democracy is only as strong as the number of citizens who engage the process.

Bishop Karen
Tell your members of Congress: Pass the DREAM Act!
The only hope for DACA recipients is a legislative solution before March 2018. Call on your members of Congress to pass the DREAM Act. Please send a letter to your members of Congress telling them to do all in their power to pass the DREAM Act. Send a letter online

Immigration to the U.S.
From the earliest days, humans have been migrants. There is no one universal reason for migration, but the movement from one place to another is often fueled by the promise of a better future in the new location. Immigrants to the United States are often fleeing war, economic scarcity, persecution, the effects of globalization, and many other reasons. Read more

A Call to Action to The United Methodist Churches in the U.S.
By The United Methodist Immigration Task Force
While we continue to encourage President Trump and the US Congress to do the right thing, we know that our strong voices demanding justice for immigrant young people and their families are needed. As the Church, we must stand with and for immigrant families in this hour, and especially with and for undocumented young people, sons and daughters of our Creator God, our brothers and sisters. Read more

Time magazine editorial by Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño
For a nation that prides itself on its care for children, eliminating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program seems contradictory — and mean-spirited. It is a punishing of the innocent and a crippling of our future. Read more

Churchgoers stand with immigrant Dreamers
By Heather Hahn
Sept. 5, 2017 | UMNS

A number of United Methodists are urging Congress to act on behalf of unauthorized immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. Their calls come as the Trump administration moved to end the program that shields these immigrants from deportation.

Specifically, United Methodists are calling on Congress to pass — and for President Trump to sign — legislation that allows “Dreamers” to remain in the U.S. and provides them with a pathway to citizenship. Read more

Rocky Mountain Conference resources on Sanctuary Movement

In April 2017, around 60 immigrants and allies gathered at Smoky Hill United Methodist Church to learn about the Sanctuary Movement. Representatives from the General Board of Church and Society as well as local advocates spent time discussing the different ways in which United Methodist churches of the Rocky Mountain Conference can become a part of the struggle to offer Sanctuary. Find documents and links