Friday, June 15, 2012

Obamanos: The DREAM is Alive

How Beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!
Romans 10:15

I was a foreigner and you invited me in.
Jesus (Matthew 25:35b)

The news this morning from the White House has shocked me full of surprise and hope. President Obama will be issuing an executive order protecting young undocumented immigrants from deportation:

Under the administration plan, illegal immigrants will be immune from deportation if they were brought to the United States before they turned 16 and are younger than 30, have been in the country for at least five continuous years, have no criminal history, graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED, or served in the military. They also can apply for a work permit that will be good for two years with no limits on how many times it can be renewed.

Various versions of the DREAM Act have unsuccessfully attempted to pass through Congress since 2001. In 2010, the DREAM Act passed the House but got filibustered out of the Senate (55 of 100 Senators voted for it). Obama's action, though lacking some of the moxie of the DREAM Act, will achieve much of what is needed in the short-term. Now my students and former students can go to college and get jobs and come out of the shadows and be finally be officially acknowledged as vital, productive members of our society without the fear of being sent back to a country that many of them barely remember.

Republican political leaders, pundits and media outlets are already screaming bloody murder over Obama's move. Now is the time for people of faith and conscience to creatively, strategically and vocally support these undocumented young people who want to contribute and pursue their passions. The basic notions of compassion and justice demand a change in the law for these young people and "foreigners" (ξένος) like these are one of the groups who intimately represent the face of Jesus in our world today: "whenever you did it to one of the least of these you did it to me" (Matthew 25:31-46).

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