"I do not believe we should pull the rug out and push these young men and women ... back into the darkness," South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said. (Photo: LGraham.Senate.gov)
Evangelical, Catholic and Mainline Protestant organizations have called for support of the bipartisan BRIDGE Act, a congressional bill intended to safeguard from deportation undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as children.
"I do not believe we should pull the rug out and push these young men and women - who came out of the shadows and registered with the federal government - back into the darkness," said South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of the "Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream of Growing our Economy Act" (BRIDGE Act).
Graham added, "Our legislation continues to provide legal status to them for three years as Congress seeks a permanent solution. These young people have much to offer the country and we stand to benefit from the many contributions they will make to America."
World Relief made a statement in mid-December 2016 supporting the act when the bill was first introduced, arguing that the Bible "makes clear that God has a particular concern for those who are vulnerable, including the foreign-born."
The Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) expressed support for the BRIDGE Act in a mid-January letter to Graham and Senate co-sponsor Dick Durbin (D-Illinois).
CCCU is an association of 115 accredited Christian colleges and universities, which includes Baylor University, Samford University and Wheaton College.
"As educators, we want to support ambitious, driven, intelligent students who have dreams of contributing to their communities and want to pursue an education, and we do not believe they should be disqualified from doing so because of acts they did not commit. These are inequities that must be remedied," said CCCU president Shirley Hoogstra.
Two Southern Baptists offered conservative Christians four reasons to back the BRIDGE Act. Bruce Ashford, provost at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Alan Cross, executive director of Community Development Initiatives, presented their case in mid-January.
In late January, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Charities USA sent a letter to the Senate in favor of the act.
"These youth entered the U.S. as children and know America as their only home. They are contributors to our economy, veterans of our military, academic standouts in our universities and leaders in our parishes and communities," read the letter.
"Under the BRIDGE Act, young people who came to the United States as children would maintain their eligibility to work and live in the U.S. without the fear of deportation and family separation so long as they meet certain requirements, such as showing a commitment to education or honorable service in our military and having no history of serious crime," Catholic leaders said.
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services asked its supporters to contact Congress, noting that the bill would protect almost 800,000 young undocumented Americans.
Bread for the World and Network, a Catholic social justice lobby, issued statements backing the bill.
Robert Parham, executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics, encouraged readers of EthicsDaily.com at the end of January to "watch and see if the BRIDGE Act is a civic hill upon which to stand."
Graham and Durbin reintroduced their legislation in mid-January.
Editor's note: This article is the first in a series on local churches / Christian organizations and immigration.