By / Oct 8

In this episode, Brent and Lindsay discuss the incredible gift of the Cooperative Program topping $200 million. They also talk about the HHS transgender rule that would threaten religious liberty and discuss DACA being sent back to a lower court for review. 

ERLC Content

Culture

  • BP: National CP giving tops $200 million for first time since 2008
  • BP: HHS transgender rule threatens doctors’ religious liberty, ERLC letter says
  • NBC News: Appeals court sends DACA case back to lower court to review new Biden rule, temporarily protecting Dreamers
  • Aaron Judge hits 62nd home run

Connect with us on Twitter

Sponsors

  • Dobbs Resource Page | The release of the Dobbs decision marks a true turning point in the pro-life movement, a moment that Christians, advocates and many others have worked toward tirelessly for 50 years. Let us rejoice that we live in a nation where past injustices can still be corrected, as we also roll our sleeves up to save preborn lives, serve vulnerable mothers, and support families in our communities. To get more resources on this case, visit ERLC.com/Dobbs.
  • Sexual Ethics Resource Page | Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the constant stream of entertainment and messages that challenge the Bible’s teachings on sexual ethics? It often feels like we’re walking through uncharted terrority. But no matter what we face in our ever-shifting culture, God’s design for human sexuality has never changed. The ERLC’s new sexual ethics resource page is full of helpful articles, videos, and explainers that will equip you to navigate these important issues with truth and grace. Get these free resources at ERLC.com/sexualethics.
By / Jan 22

Public policy advocacy is one of the many ways the ERLC fulfills its ministry in the public square. We released our 2021 Public Policy Agenda, which focuses on more than three dozen policy issues we will advocate before the U.S. Congress. 

Below is a sample of our policy priorities in the areas of sanctity of human life, religious liberty, family and marriage, justice, and international engagement.

Some of these issues have been a part of the ERLC’s legislative agenda for the last several years; other issues are new and a product of the political moment in which we find ourselves. Legislatively, with two surprise results in the Georgia senatorial runoff elections, both chambers of Congress will be controlled by the Democratic Party during the 117th Congress, although with razor-thin margins. The Senate is divided 50-50 between the party caucuses, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking any ties. In the House, the Democratic Party holds control by a handful of votes.

Although Senate Democrats will have some procedural tools to pass legislation on partisan lines, broadly speaking, only legislation with substantial bipartisan consensus will be able to pass both chambers and be signed by President Biden. It will therefore be difficult to pass legislation within many of the areas of most concern for the ERLC, which do not enjoy broad bipartisan support, such as protecting the human dignity of the preborn, religious liberty, and comprehensive immigration reform. Nevertheless, the ERLC will work to advance and make progress on our public policy agenda in these divided times at the federal level.

Sanctity of Human Life

  • No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act: Americans are divided over the issue of abortion, and many Americans strongly object to their tax dollars being used for what they believe to be a great moral wrong. In 1976, the Congress recognized this reality and every legislature since then has voted to protect the consciences of pro-life Americans. Since its enactment in 1976, Congress has passed the amendment as a temporary rider which expires each year. The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act would codify the Hyde Amendment into law, by prohibiting federal funds from being expended for abortion or health coverage that includes coverage for elective abortion. 
  • The Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act: Federal law does not adequately protect a born child who survives a failed abortion. The Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act would amend the federal criminal code to require any health care practitioner present when a child is born alive following an abortion or attempted abortion to, first, exercise the same degree of care as reasonably provided to any other child born alive at the same gestational age, and, second, ensure the child is immediately admitted to a hospital.
  • Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act: This Act would prohibit the performing (or attempted performance) of abortions on babies at 20 weeks or greater gestation, except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. In the 115th Congress, the bill passed the House of Representatives. In the 116th Congress, the bill was introduced in both chambers, but did not pass either chamber. 
  • Preventing proliferation of chemical abortions: Chemical abortion (sometimes referred to as a medication abortion or pharmaceutical abortion) is a method that uses an abortifacient to stimulate uterine contractions and end the pregnancy in a process similar to miscarriage. The ERLC will continue to counter the abortion lobby’s efforts to distribute abortion pills.

Religious Liberty

  • Defending Religious Freedom during the COVID-19 Pandemic: The ERLC will continue to advocate that the government treat churches the same as similar activities, businesses, and spaces, while recognizing that God has given the state the authority to manage activities, businesses, and spaces during a national health crisis. To this end, the ERLC has produced a number of resources to equip churches as they work to understand the public health orders issued in their community and as they engage with local officials to advocate for their religious liberty rights.
  • Opposition to the Equality Act: There are multiple pieces of legislation introduced in recent years which aim to, at the most extreme, codify the demands of the sexual revolution and radically reshape religious freedom in the United States. In May of 2019, the House passed The Equality Act—a bill that would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes under federal civil rights law. The bill would curtail religious freedom protections, hinder the work of healthcare professionals and faith-based hospitals, undermine civil rights protections for women and girls, and ultimately steamroll the consciences of millions of Americans. The ERLC believes that this bill represents the most significant threat to religious liberty ever considered in the United States Congress. We will continue to oppose the Equality Act and similar legislation introduced this Congress.
  • Opposition to Do No Harm Act: This bill, if passed into law, would weaken religious freedom protections for millions of Americans. The ERLC opposes the Do No Harm Act because it would do significant harm to the landscape of legal protections foundational to America’s first freedom.

Family and Marriage

  • Combating hunger during Covid-19 pandemic: The COVID-19 crisis has impacted food supply chains, driving up the price of food, which has a disparate impact for lower-income families. Many families find themselves newly needing to access the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). While Congress did expand and increase unemployment insurance and benefits, many families are still unable to feed their children. The ERLC has prioritized this issue by advocating for flexibility within the SNAP program, to ensure that individuals’ needs are met, and that all Americans have access to food security.
  • Responding to the opioid crisis: The SUPPORT for Patients and Community Act (H.R. 6) bill, signed into law by President Trump, marked a significant step forward in response to the opioid crisis. The legislation approved $6 billion in funding, curbed drug shipments, lifted treatment restrictions, expanded recovery centers, sped up new painkiller research, and made regulatory changes to Medicare and Medicaid. We will continue to engage with Congressional leadership and the Department of Health and Human Services on implementation of the SUPPORT Act and a range of efforts including poverty and welfare programs and training for the faith community.
  • Revive obscenity prosecution: The Obama administration’s Department of Justice terminated the Obscenity Prosecution Task Force (OPTF). Though the Department continued to prosecute cases involving children (which is essential), they ignored virtually all other violations of existing federal law which makes production and distribution of hardcore pornography illegal. The ERLC will advocate for the Department of Justice under the Biden Administration to seriously and aggressively confront exploitation of women, teens, and girls and boys by the pornography industry.

Justice

  • Permanent Solution for Dreamers: After multiple attempts to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, followed by more than a year of litigation and a Supreme Court decision, those young immigrants who were brought to the United States by their parents remain in an unstable situation. These immigrants broke no law, and yet they remain without permanent legal status. Now young adults, these Dreamers—many of whom have families of their own with children who are U.S. citizens—are workers, students, and positive contributors to their communities. We will continue to work closely with Congress and the Biden Administration to deliver a permanent legislative solution for Dreamers.
  • Criminal Justice Reform: The ERLC will continue to advocate for reforms that focus on transformation and rehabilitation, such as the Recognizing Education, Employment, New Skills, and Treatment to Enable Reintegration—or, RE-ENTER—Act. This bill allows eligible individuals with federal convictions to apply for a certificate of rehabilitation from a district court, attesting to a law-abiding future and a commitment to successful reintegration into society.
  • Human Trafficking: The ERLC will continue to advocate for anti-human trafficking legislation in the new congress—particularly legislation aimed at supporting trafficking victims.

International Engagement

  • Advocating for a strong Office of International Religious Freedom: The Office of International Religious Freedom at the Department of State is one of the most effective government institutions for protecting religious minorities, including persecuted Christians. The ERLC will advocate for the appointment of a strong, capable, and experienced Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom and for continuity of leadership at the Office until a new Ambassador-at-Large is appointed. We will also continue to advocate for international religious freedom to remain a top U.S. foreign policy priority.
  • International Pro-Life Engagement: The international abortion lobby is active and entrenched at the United Nations and also working to pressure countries around the world to legalize abortion. For decades, this lobby has been working to create an “international right to abortion.” The ERLC will continue to work against this lobby at the United Nations, ensuring that international law is not expanded to include such a right. In addition, the ERLC is exploring opportunities to support countries seeking to exercise their right to protect life within their borders.
  • Advocating for the elimination of blasphemy and apostasy laws: Dozens of countries still enforce these laws—often through the death penalty—prohibiting one from converting to another religion or speaking or acting in any way that is deemed offensive to the god of their particular religion. This is even enforced, such as in Pakistan, against adherents of other faiths. We are ERLC is committed to working to repeal these laws and ensure that all peoples have the right to worship freely without fear of persecution or penalization.
By / Jan 21

Yesterday, Joseph R. Biden, Jr. was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. To begin his presidency he is signing a flurry of executive orders (EOs), memoranda, directives, and letters. The Biden White House prepared and the new president signed 15 executive orders on his first day in office, more than any of his predecessors. This all comes in a week when the United States surpassed 400,000 lives lost to COVID-19. On that note, President Biden made clear with a memorial Tuesday night that combatting the pandemic is his top priority for his administration.

Some of the planned actions are praiseworthy, as they accord with the convictions and biblical principles of Southern Baptists. However, some of the administrative actions raise concern for the ERLC as they conflict with our public policy positions, informed by our theological convictions. Below is a discussion of a few of the actions taken by the Biden Administration yesterday, and those actions we expect in the coming days:

Protection for Dreamers and DACA recipients 

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a program that defers deportation proceedings for a subgroup of undocumented immigrants—those who entered the United States as children brought by their parents. DACA recipients are often referred to as “Dreamers.” Participants in the program, among other requirements, must demonstrate a commitment to education, employment, or service in our military; have no criminal backgrounds; and report for a biometric appointment with federal officials. The Trump Administration attempted to rescind the policy in 2017, but several lawsuits were filed shortly after the rollback began. In June 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Trump Administration did not follow proper procedures in rescinding the program, and as a result, DACA was kept in place.

Yesterday, President Biden signed a Presidential Memorandum directing the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Attorney General, to take all appropriate actions under the law to achieve the original goals of the DACA program. The Presidential Memorandum also calls on Congress to enact legislation providing permanent status and a path to citizenship for Dreamers.

The ERLC has long advocated for our government to provide a permanent solution for this special category of immigrants. We believe the only sustainable way forward, recognizing the range of beliefs about the legality of the DACA program, is for Congress to legislate a path to legal permanent resident status and, eventually, citizenship for Dreamers. Messengers at the Southern Baptist Convention of 2018 explicitly urged Congress to develop a “just and compassionate path to legal status” for undocumented immigrants already living in our country. Dreamers need a permanent legal solution that is not subject to the cycle of executives or the makeup of judicial benches.

Repeal of the Mexico City Policy

Next week, we anticipate that President Biden will rescind the pro-life Mexico City Policy. This policy was established by President Reagan to prohibit U.S. foreign aid to groups that provide or promote abortion overseas and has been a political football since President Clinton first rescinded it. The Trump Administration broadened the Mexico City Policy, and it is currently known as the “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Policy (PLGHA). The purpose of PLGHA is to “prevent American taxpayers from subsidizing abortion through global health assistance provided for populations in need.” This policy ensured that, in order to recieve any foreign aid, international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) agreed to neither perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning overseas. PLGHA expanded the Mexico City Policy to “global health assistance furnished by all departments or agencies” to the extent allowable by law. This policy only applied to voluntary family planning assistance funded by USAID and assistance for certain voluntary population planning furnished by the Department of State. 

The ERLC has advocated for this life-saving policy, and would strongly object to its rescission. Yet this expected change will not deter us from continuing to advocate for life in our international engagement.

Family reunification task force executive order​

In 2018, the Trump administration issued a “zero tolerance” immigration enforcement approach intended to deter illegal immigration. The policy change resulted in thousands of children being separated from their parents as they await adjudication. The children were kept in separate facilities and were unable to see their parents. While the refugee resettlement office at the Department of Health and Human Services made great strides at reuniting families, currently 628 parents of separated children are still missing. 

President Biden has signaled that he will create a task force to reunify families separated by the Trump Administration’s Immigration policies. The ERLC strongly supports family reunification and will work with the Biden Administration to see that children are safe again in their parent’s arms. 

Bostock executive order

Also yesterday, President Biden signed an executive order that seeks to implement and expand on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Bostock decision. Last summer, in a 6-3 ruling of a consolidated group of cases styled Bostock v. Clayton County, the Supreme Court expanded the definition of “sex” to be read to include “sexual orientation and gender identity” under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which relates to employment discrimination. The order will likely direct federal agencies to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes where discirminaton on the basis of sex is prohibited.

Although styled as implementing Supreme Court precedent, this EO in fact dramatically expands the scope of the Bostock decision, which only applies in the employment context. This EO will mean that sexual orientation and gender identity could be treated as protected classes in a range of contexts, such as education, health care, and child welfare. This will, in turn, raise a host of religious liberty problems, many of which will likely have to be litigated. 

The ERLC will be focused on the regulatory actions taken by the Biden Administration and will defend the inalienable rights of religious freedom and freedom of conscience for those who hold biblical beliefs about marriage and sexuality. Ensuring that these bedrock rights are respected by federal agencies will be crucial to the ability of faith-based organizations and people of faith to live out their faith and serve their communities without violating their consciences.

Repeal of the “Muslim Ban”

One of President Trump’s first actions in 2017 was signing an executive order to ban entry into the United States of nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syrian, Sudan, and Yemen) for 90 days, of all refugees for 120 days, and all Syrian refugees indefinitely. In response, Russell Moore sent the president a letter outlining his concerns with the order, noting that the Southern Baptist Convention reaffirmed its decades-long commitment to care for and minister to refugees in a 2016 resolution

On his first day in office, President Biden signed an Executive Action to end the policy that came to be known as the “Muslim Ban.” The ERLC welcomes this action as Southern Baptist’s commitment to welcoming the stranger has long been reflected in the SBC’s resolutions about those fleeing persecution in their home countries.

Government-wide regulatory freeze

Finally, President Biden intends to issue a memorandum that will pause any new regulations from the Trump Administration that have not yet gone into effect. The ERLC strongly opposes this move, as the freeze may hinder lawfully promulgated regulations from becoming final, including several regulations the ERLC supports. 

As an example of significant interest to the ERLC, on January 12, 2021 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) announced and published its final rule on nondiscrimination requirements in grants. This rule directly impacts grantees, especially faith-based child welfare providers by allowing them to continue serving vulnerable children in a manner consistent with their religious beliefs. Due to the delay of the finalization of this rule, this important regulation may be frozen and not implemented. The ERLC will continue to advocate for lawfully promulgated regulations to be finalized. 

Looking ahead

Every election brings new opportunities and new challenges. The ERLC will continue to work with the executive branch to advance issues of concern to Southern Baptists and will bear witness to policies pursued by the government that run contrary to biblical principles.

By / Jul 7

On June 18, 2020, the Supreme Court released their decision for the case Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California regarding the status of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. On this episode, Travis and Jeff speak with Jose Ocampo on his personal experience as a Dreamer and what is next for Dreamers after the Supreme Court’s recent decision. 

Guest Biography

Jose Ocampo is a “Dreamer” and DACA recipient who has recently graduated from Wingate University with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing. He is currently serving as the worship and youth associate at Iglesia Bautista de Hickory Grove in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Resources from the Conversation

By / Nov 15

What just happened?

The Supreme Court is considering the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program which gives temporary legal status to undocumented children in the U.S., commonly referred to as “Dreamers.” The program was created by the Obama Administration and rescinded by the Trump Administration.

What is DACA?

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a policy President Obama implemented by executive action in 2010.

Deferred action is a use of prosecutorial discretion in immigration cases to defer removal action against an individual for a certain period of time. President Obama directed the Department of Homeland Security to consider requests for deferred action for certain people who came to the U.S. as children and met qualifications similar to the DREAM Act. (This is why people who qualify for DACA are sometimes referred to as “Dreamers.”)

Those who fill out the required form and qualify for eligibility are allowed to remain, legally work, and/or attend college in the U.S. for a period of two years. As long as they continue to meet the criteria, they are exempt from deportation during the period of deferred action and may be allowed to renew the deferment.

Who are “Dreamers?”

The term “Dreamers” (sometimes DREAMers) refers to young undocumented immigrants who would qualify under the DREAM Act for permanent residency in the U.S. The DREAM Act (an acronym for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) is proposed federal legislation that would provide permanent resident status on a conditional basis for certain long-term residents who entered the U.S. as children.

Even though the DREAM Act was never passed, the term “Dreamers” is still sometimes used to describe young, undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as minors, are pursuing or have pursued education, and have never been convicted of felonies or multiple misdemeanors.

What is the DREAM Act?

The bipartisan act would grant lawful permanent resident status on a conditional basis to young, undocumented immigrants who meet the following qualifications:

  • Demonstrate that they were 17 years old or younger when they were brought to the U.S. and that they have been in the U.S. continuously for the last 4 years
  • Pass a government background check, establish “good moral character,” which means they have had no felony convictions or multiple misdemeanor convictions, and pass a medical exam
  • Establish that they have obtained or are in the process of obtaining a college degree or high school diploma
  • Pay a fee

The conditional permanent resident status is valid for eight years but may be terminated if it’s determined the person ceases to meet the admissibility criteria, has a serious criminal conviction, or is found to have participated in the persecution of U.S. citizens.

Various versions of this act were introduced in 2001, 2006, 2007, and from 2009 to 2012, though none have yet passed in Congress. Efforts by Congress in 2018 to implement a replacement to DACA in 2018 failed, resulting in a three-day government shutdown.

How many people are currently DACA recipients?

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, as of June 30, the approximate number of active DACA recipients is 660,880. An additional 35,680 are pending renewal.

Where are DACA recipients from, and where do they reside in the U.S.?

The vast majority are from Mexico (80%), followed by El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Peru. But countries with more than 1,000 recipients include Nigeria, Poland, and South Korea.

While recipients reside in all 50 states, more than half live in California, Texas, and Illinois.

Are people under DACA on a path to U.S. citizenship?

No, nor do they have “lawful status” for the purpose of immigration laws. DACA allows immigrants to obtain a “lawful presence” in the U.S. but not a “lawful status.” In other words, they are still considered to be here unlawfully, but they are legally allowed to stay in the U.S. during their deferment.

What is the Supreme Court being asked to decide?

The justices will first decide whether the government’s decision to end DACA is a matter the courts can review at all. The Trump administration says they have the discretion to overturn previous policies of executive branch agencies, like the DHS.

If the Court rules that the issue is one of judicial review, they will then decide whether the Trump administration’s decision to end DACA violated the Administrative Procedure Act, a federal law governing administrative agencies. Lower courts ruled that it did, and ordered the government to retain DACA.

The Court will issue its final ruling in May or June of 2020.

What happens if DACA is overturned?

If the Supreme Court allows the Trump administration to repeal DACA, Congress could once again attempt to move forward on the DREAM Act. In a tweet on Tuesday, President Trump said, “If Supreme Court remedies with overturn, a deal will be made with Dems for them to stay!” But it’s unlikely a legislative remedy will be in place before the next election.

By / Feb 13

What is “chain migration”?

Over the past few years, the term “chain migration” has shifted from its original usage and taken on a negative connotation. In current immigration debates, though, “chain migration” is used as a misleading synonym for “family reunification immigration.” The term has become a political slogan that is intended to convey a misleading impression of the current immigration policy, conjuring a mental image of a single immigrant pulling a group of other immigrants into America. Many immigrant groups feel the term is offensive for these reasons. The term is not used in U.S. immigration laws but has been widely used throughout the debate surrounding Dreamers. The term is problematic because it creates an incorrect impression that mischaracterizes current immigration law. Our purpose is to provide context for how family reunification immigration works and why it is beneficial to American society.

What is “family reunification immigration”?

The United States immigration policy consists of four main categories of legal permanent immigration: refugees and asylees; diversity visa lottery immigrants; employment-based immigration; and family-based immigration. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) sets an annual minimum family-sponsored preference limit of 226,000 (about two-thirds of current immigration quotas are reserved for family-based immigration). Under the family-based immigration category, U.S. citizens and permanent residents are able to sponsor certain family members for permanent residence. Immigrants in past decades have sponsored an average of about 3.5 relatives each, which may include a spouse and children.

Who can a citizen sponsor, and how long does the process take?

U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents may sponsor a limited number of types of family members through our immigration system: spouses, children, parents, and siblings. With the exception of spouses, minor children, and parents, the annual number of immigration visas is capped based on the type of relative a citizen is allowed to sponsor:

  • Unmarried sons and daughters of citizens (not to exceed 23,400)
  • Spouses and unmarried sons and unmarried daughters of legal permanent residents (not to exceed 114,200)
  • Married sons and married daughters of citizens (not to exceed 23,400)
  • Brothers and sisters (who are at least 21 years of age) of citizens (not to exceed 65,000

There is currently a backlog in every category. Every month the U.S. State Department issues its Visa Bulletin, which summarizes the availability of immigrant numbers for each class. For February 2018, the people who are allowed to immigrate into the U.S. have been waiting for the following amount of time:

  • Unmarried sons and daughters of citizens — 7 years
  • Spouses and children under 21 — 2 years
  • Unmarried sons and unmarried daughters of permanent resident aliens over age 21 — 7 years
  • Married sons and married daughters of citizens — 13 years
  • Brothers and sisters (who are at least 21 years of age) of citizens — 14 years

Can a citizen sponsor aunts, uncles, and cousins?

No. One of the frequently made claims is that a new citizen or legal permanent resident is able to sponsor unlimited members of their extended family, including aunts, uncles, cousins, and so on. This claim, although often repeated in the media and elsewhere, is simply not true. The only family members a citizen may sponsor are those outlined above: spouses, children, parents, and siblings.

How do merit-based immigration systems work?

Canada’s immigration policy is often considered “merit-based” though it is more accurate to say it is a “point-based” system (and Canada also includes family reunification as part of their immigration policy). Canada ranks immigration candidates on various measures, including education, experience, age, occupational demand, and so on. There are some, mostly economic, advantages to a merit or point-based system. In Canada, the policy has tended to increase the tax revenues for the government and allowed certain industries to fill vacancies. But Canada has also found that college-educated immigrants brought in on the point-based system earn only high-school level wages and do not innovate more than natives, unlike college-educated immigrants to the United States. The U.S. could already bring in such high-skilled workers without adopting a point-based system or allowing an increase in permanent legal immigration through the H-1B visa program. By raising the cap on these types of temporary visas, the U.S. could gain many of the advantages of a merit-based system without adopting the negative impacts.

What are the benefits to keeping family preferences over an expanded merit-based policy?

The issues of whether we should limit family preferences in favor of an expanded merit-based policy is a question of what we value most as a nation. A core belief that has historically been shared by Christians and political conservatives is the idea that the basic unit of society is the family, rather than the individual. The current family-reunification policy upholds that ideal by prioritizing the importance of the family unit, keeping families together, and allowing families to be reunited. Much of the discussion about the benefits of a merit-based system treats immigrants as economic units and seeks to maximize economic utility. While economic considerations are important, they should not be the sole basis for determining what sort of people we want to welcome into American society. There are immeasurable, and often intangible, benefits to bringing in immigrants who have a commitment to marriage, children, and kinship ties. The values and commitments created by these family ties are intrinsically valuable, and often better indicators of what will makes for  a “good citizen” than whether they are able to write computer code or teach college physics.

Why are the family reunification system and so-called “chain migration” in the news this week?

Many conservative leaders have called for an end to or for reforms to the family reunification process in the system in exchange for passing a solution for Dreamers. Changes to the family reunification system are also a part of the President’s four-part immigration reform framework discussed during the State of the Union. While the ERLC has concerns with significant changes to family reunification policies, we are working closely with lawmakers to find a workable solution that satisfies the requirements set out by the White House and that will be able to pass both the House and the Senate.

By / Jan 25

WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 25, 2018—Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, said he is encouraged by the White House framework on immigration reform that would include a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers.

“I'm pleased to see the White House offer a framework for Dreamers,” Moore said. “I'm especially glad it outlines a path to citizenship. This is a good starting point for Congress to get to work. Our immigration system has been broken for too long, and it's well past time to pass a permanent solution.”

The White House announced a “Framework on Immigration Reform & Border Security” on Jan. 25 dealing with four elements: border security, legalization for Dreamers, changes to the family sponsorship programs and changes to the diversity visa program.

The ERLC released a statement of principles on Dreamers, Oct. 5, 2017, signed by more than 50 top evangelical leaders. The ERLC’s statement of principles called for the federal government to secure America’s borders, maintain the integrity of families and provide a pathway to permanent legal status or citizenship for eligible Dreamers.

By / Dec 6

Matt and Travis welcome Jose Ocampo, a “Dreamer” and DACA recipient, alongside Walter Strickland, First Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention and Assistant Professor of Systematic and Contextual Theology at Southeastern Theological Seminary.  

  iTunes | Google Play | Stitcher | Tune in   End show notes for web

By / Nov 28

Next week marks three months since the President announced the ending of the DACA program. At the time of the announcement—which incited the fears of immigrant families across the country—there seemed to be somewhat of a bipartisan resolve to quickly seek a legislative solution. Unfortunately, it appears that resolve has now waned amidst a growing to-do list of end-of-year exigencies.

But, here are three reasons why Congress should pass DACA legislation right now:

1. Executive action (un)constitutionality does not obviate congressional responsibility

The Trump administration has made it clear that it is up to Congress to pass a legislative fix. The ongoing contestation over President Obama’s executive action, which created the program, is all but irrelevant at this point. After all, the congressional debate on dreamers began not in 2012, but in 2001 with the original Hatch-Cantwell DREAM Act. While complex political realities are often blamed for the delay, the fact remains that at least 16 years have passed, resulting in an ironic, ever-widening gap between dreamers and a legislative solution. To be sure, Congress has not been completely bereft of legislative language to work with. At this moment, between the House and Senate, there are a total of at least six bills that have been sponsored to address the issue. And while not all options are created equal, there is enough reasonable language and enough reasonable-minded legislators to get this done before the end of the year.

2. There is a moral imperative to act

Many people realize that this issue is not merely about public policy. How we choose to handle this situation speaks to who/where we are as a country. It speaks to a kind of moral imagination at work—one that will either be found consistent or inconsistent with our professed ideals as a nation. Among the many laudable efforts of advocacy, I was encouraged to see evangelical leaders articulate support for dreamers. As a Christian, just and compassionate treatment of our immigrant neighbors who bear the image of God does not seem too much to ask for (nor is it, by necessity, incompatible with respect for the rule of law). People of all faiths and of no faith comprehend the injustice in punishing children for the infractions committed by their parents. Dreamers constitute a special category of immigrants, many having lived, worked, and studied here their entire lives. They’ve paid taxes, they’ve started businesses, and they’ve contributed to the flourishing of their families and communities.

3. Time has already run out

Contrary to popular opinion on Capitol Hill, President Trump’s six-month delay does not necessarily mean a March deadline. According to an infographic created by the National Immigration Forum and the Niskanen Center, a legislative fix could take several months to implement. What this delay would mean is that, come March, thousands of immigrants would lose legal status every week. Therefore, a legislative solution should be sought sooner rather than later. Of course, legislators could proactively make a deferment of deportation proceedings integral to any considered legislation. While appreciating the irony of such “deferred action,” I’m sure DACA recipients would simply be glad to finally be granted the opportunity to call home, home.