Religious Leaders Wash the Feet of Immigrant Youth, Call On Congress for a Clean DREAM Act

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 13, 2017
CONTACT: media@cwsglobal.org

Religious Leaders Wash the Feet of Immigrant Youth, Call On Congress for a Clean DREAM Act
WATCH and SHARE a video of the event.
BROWSE and SHARE photos of the event.

Washington, D.C. – Today, nearly two weeks after President Trump repealed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, a prominent coalition of clergy and DACA recipients gathered on Capitol Hill to urge Congress to pass a clean DREAM Act.

Faith leaders also washed the feet of Dreamers in a religious ceremony that mirrors Jesus washing the feet of his disciples prior to the Last Supper. To watch a full video of the event, click here. For photos, click here. A sampling of the Dreamers’ and faith leaders’ statements is below:

Valeria Ruiz Lira, DACA recipient and Organizer, Voces de la Frontera and Youth Empowered in the Struggle, from Racine, Wisconsin
“I want Speaker Paul Ryan to support the passage of a clean Dream Act. We need better public schools, we don’t need a wall. My mom, dad, and my U.S. citizen sister are not negotiable. If it means we have to have a five day hunger strike outside of Ryan’s office again, then we will do that. If we have to flood DC with 800,000 DACA recipients, we will do that.”

Deyanira Aldana, DACA recipient from New Jersey and United We Dream Organizer
“I came here when I was four years old to reunite with my family and received DACA when I was 16. It allowed me to get a job that did not mistreat me and did not under pay me. It helped me support my family financially and protected me from deportation. But I worry that without protection for immigrant youth, my younger brother and sister will now be deportable and that our family will be torn apart. Congress must pass a clean Dream Act to protect our communities.”

Reverend Reuben Eckels, Church World Service
“The washing of the feet is an ancient tradition to show hospitality. In doing so, Jesus switched the power relationship – a powerful gesture to show that we should all serve one another and love each other. As this President has abandoned DACA recipients, we as people of faith call on Congress to pass a clean Dream Act. This foot washing is a celebration and call to service. It is a celebration because even though it looks like hope is lost, in the end, we will be victorious.”

Pastor Craig Paschal, Pastor, Mancos United Methodist Church, Colorado
“I’m from a small town of 800-1,000 people. When we declared our church a sanctuary, we were aware there was a very good chance that we might be welcoming someone we knew. Three months ago, one of our neighbors asked us for sanctuary, and it is tragic what is happening with her and her elderly parents. We are standing with the Dreamers for our common humanity and ask Congress to stand with us as well and make the ideal of ‘liberty and justice for all’ a reality.”

Reverend Julie Peeples, Senior Pastor, Congregational Greensboro UCC
“One week ago, I held the hand of a beautiful four year old boy named Mateo. He asked me, ‘why do they want to take away my mother?’ Mateo, his seven year old brother, and mother, Minerva, are living in two rooms in the basement of my church. After 16 years of living here and paying taxes, Minerva was given one month to leave the U.S. for Mexico, which she left to give Mateo’s oldest brother, who is blind, a future. I’m asking members of Congress to defund hatred, to support a clean Dream Act, and to support our refugees. And if they will not do that, I want them to tell me – what do we say to Mateo?”

Reverend Laurie Brock, Rector, St. Michael the Archangel Episcopal Church, Kentucky
“We gather this day to bear witness to God’s command to love others as we love ourselves, especially the immigrant and refugee. May our leaders restore our faith in the promises our country has made for decades… to transform this country in love, justice, and welcome.”

David Boshart, Executive Conference Minister, Central Plains Mennonite Conference, Iowa
“Forcing human beings to make the choice between reunification and separation is immoral and inhumane. We are a community that believes in forgiveness and redemption – values that go to the heart of the gospel, and values that once were important in our country. We are calling for reduced funding for enforcement agencies that act with no respect for the ways immigrants serve to make our communities better and an end to the for-profit system that acts without accountability for the human rights of those who are detained.”

Rev. Jennifer Butler, CEO Faith in Public Life
“I want to send a message in particular to the Senators and Representatives who call yourselves Christians. The Bible says that which we do to the most marginalized among us, we do to Christ himself. To turn your back on the DREAMers is to turn your back on Christ. I pray that the Christians in Congress take that Gospel seriously, and I pray that they have the backbone to do the right thing and protect the dreams of young American immigrants.”

Since 1946, Church World Service has supported refugees, immigrants and other displaced individuals, in addition to providing sustainable relief and development solutions to communities that wrestle with hunger and poverty. Learn more about our work and join our global homebase for refugee solidarity at GreaterAs1.org.
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