For nearly two decades, working immigrant Coloradans who gained an opportunity to live and work in our communities under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program have become our neighbors, friends, coworkers and fellow congregants. Unfortunately, just like Dreamers, the lives and future of TPS-recipients in the nation they call home can all be upended.
Sadly, the Trump administration terminated TPS for immigrants from many countries. He also ended the Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that protected Dreamers and allowed them the opportunity to study and work. Right now both groups face uncertainty, allowed to temporarily remain in the country because of federal court rulings. Members of my congregation and my family know all too well the realities of living in limbo and facing the possibility of being deported and separated from their families.
None of these families who have embraced Colorado just as they fully embraced their faith the Lord should be forced to leave behind their homes and families and the community they have helped build in nearly 20 years. We cannot forget the words of Zechariah 7:9-10:
Thus says the Lord of hosts: Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another; do not oppress the widow, the orphan, the alien, or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another.
There’s no question that our leaders in Congress need to answer to the call of their prayers. Today, there is a solution: the Dream and Promise Act of 2019. This bill is a glimmer of light at the end of a dark tunnel that would allow Dreamers and TPS-residents an opportunity to earn citizenship.
Right here in Colorado’s 1st Congressional District alone, where our church stands, there are 5,000 DACA recipients and 2,100 more immigrant youth who are eligible. There are currently over 17,000 DACA recipients across Colorado, with 8,000 more eligible for the program. Meanwhile, about 1,400 workers in Colorado are TPS holders. They enrich our communities, care for our children, cultivate our food and pray in our pews.
Nearly 2 million Dreamers moved to the United States as children, and many of the over 300,000 TPS holders have lived in the United States for decades and have strong community ties. Of the 1,400 TPS holders in Colorado, 1,600 U.S.-born children depend on them. These families are facing impossible circumstances where parents must decide between being separated from their children or taking them to countries that are facing extreme violence, dangerous conditions, and lack of resources. This isn’t a decision they should have to make after decades of contributing to our communities.
Having been witness to the pain of these harsh realities, I know firsthand the toll this this takes not only on families, but the people around them — from the caring neighbor to the employer. It’s time for our legislators and leaders to come together and provide the relief these hardworking families have been hoping for by passing the Dream and Promise Act.
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