This past week has been filled with what feels like a continuous barrage of tragic news: the shootings in Orlando and subsequent lack of gun control measures by Congress, World Refugee Day and the reminder that the world refugee crisis continues, and then the news that the U.S. Supreme Court issued the long-awaited decision in United States v. Texas, imparting the final ruling on whether President Obama had the authority to create the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programs. First announced by President Obama in 2014, these programs would have granted protection from deportation to approximately 4 million people currently residing in the U.S. without legal status. These programs have been held up in legal battles since a federal judge in Texas first blocked the program. Regrettably, the Supreme Court ended the wait last week by affirming the lower court’s ruling with the Justices’ split 4-4 decisions.
This ruling has serious consequences for the 4 million fathers, mothers, and children hoping for a chance to live without fear of deportation who now remain in the shadows. This ruling goes directly against the Biblical mandate to love our neighbor and welcome the stranger. As I was reading this week’s lectionary passages for Sunday, the words of the Psalm 77 stood out to me: “I cry aloud to God.” Millions of our immigrant brothers and sisters are crying aloud to God as they live in fear of being separated from their families at any time, and possibly deported. Separating families is immoral and goes against the teachings of Jesus. In the psalmist’s prayer for help, we can hear the cry of the immigrant and refugee and we are reminded that separating families goes against our Christian and humanitarian beliefs.
However, this Psalm also provides comfort and solace by reminding us of how God has helped in the past. In these difficult times, Psalm 77 reminds us that holding on to hope is important, and our hope is that the fight for DAPA is not over. As President Obama said in his speech after the ruling, the Supreme Court’s inability to come to a decision on DAPA and the expansion of DACA does not change the original DACA program and the administration’s policies about deportation. This decision is a setback but it’s not the end of the road. We continue to pray for a day when stability and security is extended to all who call the United States their home. Until that day, the North Carolina Council of Churches will continue our advocacy and education efforts that support our brothers and sisters who come to North Carolina in search of a better life.