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U:21 | How Christians Should Treat Dreamers

As a Christian, what should I do? As a Christian, where do I stand?

These are important questions rolling through the minds of countless Christians in this nation when considering the immigration debate.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a program, which was created in 2012 to help immigrants who came to the United States before they were 15 years old.

These recipients, called “Dreamers,” are granted temporary residential status, which can be revoked at any time, and they receive access to opportunities, such as higher education and military enlistment.

As of August of this year, people who currently have or previously had DACA may apply to renew it.

However, there is a good chance those states fighting against the program may bring forth its end.

Evangelicals are found on either side of the debates about immigration reform. However, the Word of God should inform any views used in this debate.

It is paramount to remember that Christians are ambassadors of God’s justice. The prophetic books are abounding with passages on justice. Amos likens it to a river, saying, “But let Justice roll like a river” (Amos 5:24).

While approaching the topic of whether the DACA program should continue, it is imperative to remember one thing: Each perspective found in this debate comes from individuals who are loved by God. However, we must form our perspectives with biblical truth.

Are we to support our brothers and sisters in Christ? What about those who are in need physically as well as spiritually? Do Christians just stand by and allow Dreamers to be removed from our borders?

You could say that the answers to these questions are found through another popular question: What would Jesus do?

The life of Jesus Christ is God’s heart completely lived out. During his life, Jesus sought out those who were outcast and in need. Jesus, being drawn to these individuals by compassion, genuinely loved them.

Today, many immigrants and Dreamers live on the edge of poverty, and it is all too often these individuals who are excluded from compassion.

Jesus says that his followers will be known by their love (John 13:35). As we look to how to treat Dreamers, we must model the same love as Christ.

To gain further insight into the ethics of immigration status, we can look to the eye-opening stories of two Dreamers I had the pleasure of meeting at my university.

Nathan Arrazate, a 21-year-old college student from Mexico, grew up in Van Horn, Texas.

The Arrazate family endured harshness when arriving in the U.S., prior to the enactment of DACA.

Nathan’s mother would strive to earn whatever money possible by ironing shirts and cleaning kitchens while her husband would take any odd job he could find.

“You can’t even imagine,” Nathan said. This statement refers to tough, heartfelt conversations and rules his brave and respectable parents put in place to protect him. As a young man, Nathan must live every moment with a bit more caution.

The decision to love is an indication that we are living out the will of God. Through the words of the prophet Micah, the will of God can be truly understood: It is vital to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8)

We can look to the character of Jesus when he encountered the Samaritan woman, who herself was severely outcast.

Jesus loved her through his actions. We can fulfill the needs of Dreamers, whether it is through prayer, encouragement or simply welcoming them with open arms.

Daniela Garcia Rodriguez, a dear friend, is a student from Mexico, who grew up in Houston.

She says that the program gives her a sense of protection and a chance to stay here in the United States, the country in which she was raised and molded.

“I have the fear of being taken back to a place I don’t even know,” Daniela said.

Daniela shares something her father, Raul Garcia, always says, “God is with us. We can’t let the fear take over our lives.”

This Dreamer shares her gratitude for the doors of opportunity that have opened to her.

When living like Christ, love can have no boundaries. Like a beautifully woven tapestry, numerous verses are intertwined throughout Scripture to share how to love. This love involves treating every person with compassion and respect.

This is illustrated deeply through Jesus’ words found in Matthew 25. “I was a stranger, and you welcomed me. …Truly I say to you whatever you did for the least of these, you did to me.”

Jesus longs for his followers to treat strangers with this brotherly love. We are to love our neighbors as ourselves, and, the truth is, Dreamers are our neighbors.

Editor’s note: This article is part of a new series focused on engaging the emerging generations of faith leaders. Learn more about EthicsDaily.com’s “Emerging Voices” and “U:21” series here.

Jana Atkinson

Jana Atkinson is a biblical and theological major studying at Baptist University of the Americas in San Antonio.