Rev. Nathan Dannison is Senior Minister at First Congregational Church of Kalamazoo; Bruce Roller is executive director of United Church Outreach Ministry in Wyoming, Mich.; Dona Abbott is branch director of refugee services for Bethany Christian Services in East Lansing (courtesy photos)
As lifelong Michiganders, we have dedicated ourselves to serving the people, families and communities of Michigan. As faith leaders, we believe that all people, regardless of who they are or where they come from, should be treated as children of God.
For many of us Michiganders, it has been a harrowing experience to watch the attempts to terminate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and end Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Experiences like those of Daniel Caracheo, a pre-med student in Grand Rapids who was in chemistry class when he heard his DACA status was in danger.
In Michigan, immigrants are an integral part of our communities. They are the nurses and doctors in our hospitals, the police officers and firefighters protecting our cities and towns, the teachers who educate our children, the farm and restaurant workers who feed us, and on Sundays they are our fellow worshipers.
Currently, there are 6,430 DACA recipients in Michigan, and removing these productive young people from our workforce by terminating DACA would result in an astounding $418 million annual loss from our state GDP. Nationally, the termination of DACA will remove over 685,000 workers from the economy and result in a loss of over $351 billion from 2019 to 2028.
DACA was enacted in 2012 to give work authorizations and reprieve from deportation for immigrants that were brought to America as children. TPS was established by Congress in 1990 to grant legal status to people from specific countries facing ongoing conflict or natural disaster. These are truly lifesaving programs and our Michigan Congressional delegation must act to continue them.
Members of Congress introduced the Dream and Promise Act of 2019, giving Dreamers and TPS and Deferred Enforcement Departure holders, including over 17,000 people in Michigan alone, a hope for a safe and permanent future here in the U.S. This legislation would come as a much-needed reprieve, an opportunity for those living in uncertainty to continue to study, teach, work and drive without constant fear of deportation.
We must continue to seek solutions that allow our friends and neighbors in Michigan to permanently remain and continue their positive contributions to our state and our nation. And Michiganders already agree that this is the right thing to do: polling released last week showed 78% support a path to citizenship for Dreamers and TPS holders, including majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and independents.
Jesus told His followers, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27) His message is clear - we must love immigrants as we love ourselves and we must protect them from harm.
We were all once immigrants in this great nation, and we must continue preserving the values that strengthen our country. We urge all Michiganders to ask our members of Congress, Republican and Democrat, to support the Dream and Promise Act, to provide protections for those who are in need.
In a time when hate plagues our state and nation, we urge our legislators to lead by example, and fight against those who seek to harm those who are most in need. We must stand together to protect the American people, including those who have sought refuge and opportunity in our great state and our great nation.