The government has shut down because Congress could not work together to come up with a Continuing Resolution to pay federal employees. But pressing questions must be asked as to how we arrived at this point:
- Why are many members of Congress unable to set aside partisan differences and fulfill the basic responsibilities of governing agreeing on an annual budget?
- When immigration reform is so desperately needed for the well-being of the nation, why can’t Congress work on a path to citizenship for migrants who are a vital part of American life?
- Why are DACA recipients treated as pawns on a chessboard and not given the dignity of the acknowledging that they are worthy of citizenship?
The shutdown of the government is a failure of elected representatives to perform the basic duties and responsibilities of their elected office. It is a moral failure on their part to care for the nation, from the “least of these” to the “strangers and sojourners” in our midst. Every decision is weighed by the political cost or benefit. That is a failure to lead.
Congress must stand on the side of morality and against racism and xenophobia. They have a moral obligation to care for children. It is unfair to pit the children on the Children’s Health Insurance Program against the children who received DACA.
The leadership who controls the Senate, the House and the White House is failing to govern, while dozens of members of Congress in the middle are eager to work toward solutions on Dream, CHIP, disaster relief, and robust non-defense discretionary spending levels.
Historically, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s public witness on immigration has recognized the need for immigration reform, has responded to the changing patterns of migration, and has openly addressed the different issues affecting our immigrant communities, such as families being separated and workers facing exploitation. As a community we have the duty to build cross-cultural bridges with our immigrant communities, partner in providing services, and advocate together for change.
The church is called to witness to the reconciliation that Christ brings to the world. This is no cheap covering-over of divisions and differences. Instead, reconciliation points to a dynamic unity of richly diverse humankind in which we establish justice and treasure each one as a gift of the Creator. General Assembly policies consistently emphasize that the “confession of Jesus Christ as Lord transforms ‘strangers’ into neighbors who are welcomed into our communities” (Minutes, 1999, Part I, p. 353, a.(3)).
Rooted in our greatest hope that leadership can see a way to protect all children, the PC(USA) stands firmly with Dreamers in calling for a quick resolution to the shutdown that includes a path to citizenship for DACA recipients.