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UPDATE: Faith community keeping DREAM alive

December 22, 2010, 4:00 pm | Posted by Dan Nejfelt

Following the Senate’s failure to break a filibuster of the DREAM Act this weekend, faith leaders rebuked Senators who turned their backs on upstanding young immigrants while reiterating the faith community’s unwavering determination to pass this compassionate, common-sense legislation. Statements from Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, Jewish, Muslim and interfaith leaders and organizations are below the fold:

“These are students who desire nothing less than to serve their country – the only country many of them have ever known. Though the Senate slammed the door of opportunity shut in the faces of these young people, DREAM Act students have shown they refuse to be held back. Their passion is a witness to people of faith and we as United Methodists will continue to educate and mobilize ourselves and others until Congress finally does what is right. Today we stand with the DREAM Act students and tomorrow we will continue the struggle until Congress recognizes the contributions and leadership of our immigrant sisters and brothers.”

- Bishop Minerva Carcaño of the Desert Southwest Conference of the United Methodist Church

“When I looked into the eyes of DREAMers this week, I saw the future. These young, bright, and hopeful new generation leaders are ready to contribute–aching to do so. But a severely broken immigration system won’t let them. …On Saturday, December 18, the Dreamers eyes [were] full of tears. Because even though a majority of the U.S. Senate voted to allow them an earned path to citizenship if they went to college or served in the military, a minority of Senators tried to veto the DREAMers future by utilizing broken Senate rules and appealing to the fear and, yes, hatred of some of their constituents. Shame on them. But what these Senators do not understand is that you can’t veto the future. The Senators who voted “no” to the DREAMers today will someday learn this lesson. When I looked into the eyes of the DREAMers, I knew that they would win, just like when I looked into the eyes of teenagers in the townships of South Africa many years ago. And they will win. Today we have to tell them that this fight isn’t over. Today, we hold them close, wipe their tears, and let them know that we will be with them until their dreams come true. This is Advent. Hope is real. And hope will win.”

- Jim Wallis, President and CEO of Sojourners

“By rolling up America’s welcome mat to many of our nation’s best and brightest, Congress has essentially said ‘no thanks’ to at least $1 trillion in revenue. It’s economic insanity.”

- Alejandro J. Beutel, Government and Policy Analyst, The Muslim Public Affairs Council

“Failure to pass the DREAM Act shows that we are in for a long struggle for immigrant justice. Sadly, the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better. The next years will test our resolve and our commitment. The Unitarian Universalist Association will continue to stand on the side of love for passage of the DREAM Act and for comprehensive immigration reform.”

- The Rev. Peter Morales, President, Unitarian Universalist Association

“While we applaud the majority of U. S. Senators who supported the DREAM Act, we deplore that a minority of Senators have frustrated the dreams of so many young people during this season of hope and joy. The students broke no laws because they came here as children. However these Senators have attempted to break the dreams of these young people, to break their hearts. When these Senators who opposed the DREAM Act are opening their gifts at Christmas, will they remember the youngsters to whom they have denied a future in our country? Probably not. Sadly, the hopes and aspirations of these students appear to be of little concern to them. However, this fight will continue until justice is accomplished. We cannot abandon these young people.”

- Sr. Gayle Lwanga, National Coordinator, The National Advocacy Center, Sisters of the Good Shepherd

“The vote was clearly not keeping in the spirit and tradition of St Francis and St Clare and as shown in our Holy Books and different faith traditions. In Deuteronomy 21:14 it says ‘you shall not abuse a needy and desperate laborer, whether a fellow countryman or a stranger in one of the communities in your land’. Luke 4:18 says ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.’ In 1950 when my parents set foot off the boat onto Ellis Island, with two babies and not a dime to spend, they did so because they had a DREAM of a better life for their children. The same DREAM that thousands upon thousands of young DREAMers have today.’ The Franciscan Action Network will stand with the DREAM Coalition and the young DREAM Act students in the spirit and tradition of St Francis until they have the opportunity to fulfill their DREAMS.”

- Patrick Carolan, Executive Director, Franciscan Action Network

“By voting against the DREAM Act, forty-one Senators, who have all met students who would benefit from the DREAM Act, have voted against youth, against immigrants and new Americans, against the wishes of the faith community and the future of this country. On Saturday, many Senators extolled the virtues of the DREAM Act, but claimed to be voting against it due to procedural matters. For us at Church World Service, the future of these children and students will always trump procedure and partisan politics. We pledge to continue to support and stand in solidarity with the courageous youth across the country. As a nation, we can only benefit from these students’ fortitude and character. We ask the forty-one Senators who on Saturday denied these students their DREAM to look inward, finally put aside their politicking and work with these students, the faith community and others to enact the DREAM Act and other immigration reforms as soon as possible. These reforms, senators, cannot wait.”

- Erol Kekic, Director, Immigration and Refugee Program, Church World Service

“The Senate’s vote to block passage of the DREAM Act raised bullying behavior to a new level in our nation. By targeting children who were brought to the U.S. by their undocumented immigrant parents and by denying those children the opportunity to earn citizenship through hard work and sacrifice, legislators have embarrassed themselves and our nation. Worse than that, legislators who voted against DREAM yielded to pressure from nativist, bigoted people who find no shame in going after children during this Christmas season by spreading lies about the content and intent of the bill. Shame on all those senators who chose politics over justice and compassion. At NETWORK, we will press the new Congress to finally reform our immigration system so that justice triumphs over bigotry.”

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

“The Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, a congregation of women religious, are extremely disappointed that the Senate failed to pass the DREAM Act. We had hoped that our senators would have the moral courage to put politics aside and do the right thing. Everyone would have profited from this legislation — young people could have pursued careers and education, and all Americans would have benefited economically and socially from their talents, skills and dedication to their communities and country. The Sisters of Mercy have served immigrants since coming to the U.S. from Ireland in 1843. We have seen the contributions of generations of immigrants. Despite this setback, the Sisters of Mercy will continue to work for just and humane immigration reform and for a future for the young people who had pinned their hopes on the DREAM Act.”

- Sr. Anne Curtis, Institute Leadership Team member, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas

“By defeating the cloture vote, Congress has failed an entire generation of undocumented immigrant youth who only want to contribute to this country by becoming citizens. In the wake of today’s failure, HIAS urges Congress to find a way to encourage – and not stand in the way of — these hardworking young people who just want to build productive futures and contribute to America . We are deeply concerned for their future in the absence of just and fair legislation.”

- Gideon Aronoff, President & CEO, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society

“These students–many of whom were brought to the U.S. at a young age and know America as their only home–are an important part of America’s future. By failing to pass the DREAM Act, we have missed a crucial opportunity to allow these young people to complete their education, legalize their status, contribute back to society, and help build the American dream for future generations.”

-Richard Foltin, Director of National and Legislative Affairs, American Jewish Committee.

“The DREAM Act was inspired by a belief that we hold dear as Americans and as people of faith–the belief that every person who works hard and plays by the rules deserves a chance to succeed. Until the DREAM Act is passed, thousands of hard working and patriotic young men and women will continue to be punished for the actions of their parents and denied the chance to contribute to the country that they love. The effort to stop DREAM has been driven by the divisive politics of fear–we will keep on fighting back with compassion and common sense.”

-Leslie Watson Malachi, Director, African American Ministers in Action

“The Senate’s failure to advance the DREAM Act regrettably represents a missed opportunity to advance the common good. A strong majority of Americans recognize the fundamental fairness of the DREAM ACT and support the aspirations of these young people who are ready to give back to this country generously and with courage. Despite Saturday’s vote, LIRS and our broad national network of individual citizens, social ministry organizations, churches and church leaders remain committed to working with the Congress and the Administration to build support for fair and humane migration policies.”

-Linda Hartke, President and CEO, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services

UPDATE: Here are a few more reactions from other religious organizations

The minority of 41 Senators who blocked progress by voting “no” failed more than just students seeking fair treatment or the military, civil rights, and business who believe our country will be stronger with their contribution to it. They failed all of our children by refusing to embrace a future for them that welcomes diversity and equal access to the American dream.

-Robert G. Sugarman, National Chair, and Abraham H. Foxman, National Director, Anti-Defamation League

With the passage of the DREAM Act in the House of Representatives and with a majority of the U.S. Senate voting in favor, it is clear that a majority of Congress and of the American public support this common-sense humanitarian measure,” said Archbishop Gomez. “I am confident that one day–sooner rather than later–the DREAM Act will become the law of the land.

-Archbishop Jose Gomez, chairman of the Committee on Migration, USCCB

Catholic Charities USA is deeply disappointed that the Senate rejected the vote on this important piece of legislation. Honor students, class presidents, athletes and responsible community members who desire a brighter future by continuing their education came up short this past weekend. Now, having entered our country as small children, they will continue to be cast into the shadows until, as a nation, we can find a way to address our broken immigration system.

-Rev. Larry Snyder, President and CEO, Catholic Charities

Contrary to all your religiosity, your vote took the Christ out of Christmas for millions of young people. To paraphrase St. John, the Beloved Disciple, how can you love God whom you cannot see if you do not love the Jesus in the migrant worker whom you do see?

-Frank O’Gorman, People of Faith CT

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