Faith Groups Challenge Fifth Circuit Court on President’s Immigration Actions

WASHINGTON – (April 6, 2015) Today, 19 Catholic, Evangelical and Protestant faith-based organizations filed an amicus brief in support of the Obama Administration’s executive actions on immigration with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The amicus brief, also known as a “friend of the court” brief, supports the Administration’s appeal of Texas Judge Andrew Hanen’s injunction that has temporarily blocked deportation relief for close to five million undocumented immigrants. The amicus brief details the disservice that the injunction poses not just to immigrant communities but also to faith-based organizations and the public at large.

“We recognize the role that Amicus Briefs have played throughout history in highlighting to courts the needs of vulnerable populations, especially in civil rights cases. Our current faith brief recognizes how detention and deportation put children at greater risk for psychological and emotional distress, adversely affect the financial stability of families, and can diminish cognitive and physical development of children and youth as well,” said Rev. Dr. Ronald Degges, President of Disciples Home Missions of the Disciples of Christ (Christian Church). Detention and deportation likewise particularly reduce the ability for immigrants to positively contribute to their communities and churches. One example offered in the brief is from our Disciples’ Iglesia Alas de Salvacion congregation in Arizona, whose Moreno family has been shattered as a result of their mentally unstable son’s deportation.”

Today’s filing with the court broadly supports the Administration’s fully constitutional use of prosecutorial discretion through the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) application processes.

To view the groups’ legal brief in full, see http://tiny.cc/faith-amicus-brief

Below are selected quotes from the organizations that joined the brief:

Sister Simone Campbell, Executive Director of NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby:

“We affirm the president’s enforcement priorities since they protect families, allowing millions of mothers and fathers across our nation to tuck their children into bed at night with less fear they will be torn apart. His action is a reasonable and good step in face of a broken system Congress refuses to fix, and, as a matter of justice and compassion, we gladly signed onto the faith Amicus Brief in support of our immigrant sisters and brothers.”

Rev. Dr. Gabriel Salguero, President of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition:

“As Hispanic evangelical leaders we know all too well the high cost of inaction on immigration reform. For years, we’ve seen families divided and still no real solutions. The National Latino Evangelical Coalition not only supports executive action on immigration we have launched a national tour to prepare our congregations to serve these immigrant families. We welcome the President’s action and urge Congress to pass immigration reform. Jesus wasn’t kidding when he said, ‘I was a stranger and you welcomed me.’”

Rev. John L. McCullough, President and CEO of Church World Service. “

“We will go and stand with our immigrant sisters and brothers wherever justice demands our action. Whether that be in Congress or in the courts, we will continue to fight to end the harm of our broken immigration system and stop the separation of families. Church World Service is proud to join this amicus brief in support of the Administration’s fully constitutional executive actions on immigration. We urge the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to act quickly, to move progress and justice forward, and to allow individuals to apply for DAPA and expanded DACA and remain in the United States to pursue their dreams.”

Patrick Carolan, Executive Director of Franciscan Action Network:

“Franciscan Action Network welcomes this opportunity to publicly support recent immigrant families who live in fear of separation. Our Franciscan communities and parishes work with young people whose lives have been transformed by DACA and families who would be united by an expanded DACA and a DAPA program.”

The Very Reverend John Edmunds, S.T., General Custodian of Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity:

“We joined our brothers and sisters of faith in signing this Brief because it is not only our faith, but also our sense of justice and fairness that tells us that welcoming those in need and keeping families together is a value worth fighting for. “We are not going to be bystanders to the actions of those who feel otherwise.”

Rob Rutland-Brown, Executive Director of National Justice for Our Neighbors

“National Justice for Our Neighbors has signed on to this brief because we know the difference that expanded DACA/DAPA will make in the lives of our immigrant brothers and sisters. We look forward to when these immigrants can work to support their families and their communities and to live without the constant fear of deportation and family separation. Our network of attorneys and volunteers are ready to begin assisting eligible with their applications and are optimistic that this injunction will not stand.”

Joan Marie Steadman, CSC, Executive Director of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious:

“As people of faith, we take seriously the Gospel call to welcome the stranger and care for those in need. Catholic sisters began coming to these shores more than 250 years ago as immigrants to serve immigrant populations. To this day sisters continue to minister to new immigrants. We know the suffering of families torn apart by needless detentions and deportations and children who live in fear that their parents will be taken from them. That is why we are committed to ensuring the implementation of the expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the Deferred Action for the Parents of Americans (DAPA) programs.”

Rev. Dr. Jeff Hood, Minister of Social Justice, Hope for Peace and Justice

“For all of the injustices faced by LGBT persons in the United States, we know that the situation is far worse in other countries. DAPA and DACA provide a route of lifesaving sanctuary and we are desperate for these policies to be preserved.”

To view the groups’ legal brief in full, see http://tiny.cc/faith-amicus-brief


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