As faith leaders in Chattanooga representing a diverse array of perspectives and traditions, we have been dismayed by President Trump's decision to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, ripping away opportunity from 800,000 young immigrants across the country.
The falsehoods and half-truths offered by the White House regarding DACA recipients are shocking and disappointing: conflating the Central American migrant crisis (which was due to an uptick in gang-related and paramilitary violence) with DACA application; misrepresenting the impact of DACA applicants on the economy; and laying accusations of higher crime at the feet of DACA recipients (one cannot have a criminal record and be a DACA recipient).
These accusations are, to use a phrase familiar to the Abrahamic traditions, bearing false witness.
The truth is that more than 8,300 Tennesseans have benefited from the DACA program. They've been working as nurses, teachers, and small business owners. Taking away their opportunity to work and give back, and putting those young people in the deportation pipeline undermines our values and hurts our community and our state. We claim these young people as our own because they have proven themselves to be so.
A growing chorus of business leaders, civic leaders, elected officials, and clergy from a variety of traditions have been calling on the president to defend DACA and for Congress to pass legislation that offers permanent protection for Dreamers — including House Speaker Paul Ryan, Sens. Orrin Hatch and Jeff Flake, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott. Even Tennessee's Attorney General came out strongly in support of DACA recipients and has urged support for the Dream Act. Our nation's immigration system needs thoughtful attention, but targeting the Dreamers is simply a cruel and ineffective attempt to appear to address this issue.
We call on all people, whether of faith or of secular goodwill, to support these young immigrants. They are an integral part of our communities, our state, and our country. Let us tell the truth. Let us be just. Let us work for fairness. Let us let these dreamers be part of the America they have long loved. Let us dream alongside them.
Rev. Brandon Gilvin, First Christian Church
Rev. Laura Becker, Northminster Presbyterian Church
The Rev. Zack Nyein, Grace Episcopal Church
Rev. Christopher A. Smith, Trinity Lutheran Church
Pastor Jeff Crim, Ascension Lutheran Church (ELCA)
Rev. Dr. Clay Thomas
Rev. Candace A. Worth, New Hope Presbyterian Church
Rev. Josh Woodrow, Bridge City Community (Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod)
Rev. Carol Howard Merritt, Presbyterian Church (USA)
The Rev. April Berends, Christ Church Episcopal
Rev. Jason Emerson, Episcopal Church of the Nativity
Rev. Dr. Paul Rader, Presbyterian Church (USA)
Rev. Tricia Dillon Thomas, campus minister at The Hope House, UT Chattanooga
Rev. Christy Bonner
Rev. V. Tom Banks, Ashland Terrace Christian Church
Rev. Jonathan Hyde, Associate Minister, First Christian Church
Reverend Christine Grace, Unity Minister
Rev. Frank Jump, Presbyterian Church (USA)
Rev. Jay Banasiak, Presbyterian Church (USA)