The Common Good

For DREAM Act, Waiting No Longer an Option

Source: Sojourners
Date: December 7, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

CONTACT:

Evan Trowbridge at etrowbridge@sojo.net / 202-745-4625 or

Tim King at tking@sojo.net / 202-631-7763

Rev. Wallis is available for comment

For DREAM Act, Waiting No Longer an Option

Rev. Wallis to White House: Free Bernard Pastor

To Congress: Pass the DREAM Act to make sure Pastor's tragedy is never repeated.


WASHINGTON, DC - "The White House should act immediately to free Bernard Pastor. This young man exemplifies the best that immigrants bring to our country and the tragedy of our broken immigration system. His story shows why Congress needs to pass the DREAM Act now.”

Pastor - an honors student, record-holding athlete and active church member - was arrested in mid-November after a minor traffic accident lead police to uncover his illegal immigrant status. In little more than a week, he may be deported to his parents' native Guatemala, a country he left when he was one year old. If that happens, he would be just one of the 1,100 people that day alone who were deported.

Demonstrators including politicians, religious leaders, academics, friends, family, and total strangers have gathered for protests, prayer vigils and caravans to the prisons where Pastor has been kept, calling for immediate justice for Pastor and long-term reform through the DREAM Act.

"I feel that this is the purpose that God has for me, and I will never fight his will,” Pastor said in a statement. " And I want to be able to be the one who steps up, the one who can be the voice for those other thousands of DREAMers who cannot speak out for themselves.”

Pastor believes that he has been given a unique opportunity and voice to raise attention for the DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act, which is poised for a vote as early as Wednesday.

The act, which will provide a path to citizenship for immigrant youth through earning a college degree or serving in the military, is the next step in fixing an immigration system that tears families apart every day. Individuals of faith on both the left and right agree that this is neither right nor just.

Rev. Jim Wallis, CEO of Sojourners, said that the time is ripe for Congress to finally pass this legislation:

"The politicians and the pundits say, 'Not yet. Just be patient. Wait for the political climate to change, or for this election to pass. It's the other party's fault.' We ignore the excuses because we know that it does not have to be this way. We ignore them because we are people of hope who believe in spite of the evidence and then watch the evidence change.”

Rev. Jennifer Kottler, the director of policy and advocacy at Sojourners, echoed Wallis' position.

"These immigrant youth live in fear that they will be 'sent back' to a country that they don't know - kicked out of the only home they have ever known,” Kottler said. "They not only experience America as the only home they have ever known, but they also want to serve and contribute and stay. They are Americans in every way but their legal status.”

In addition to Sojourners' work in supporting this much-needed legislation, faith leaders from across the nation have raised up unified calls as recently as Tuesday to pass the act.

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Jim Wallis is the president and CEO of Sojourners, the largest network of social justice Christians in the United States focused on the biblical call to social justice. Wallis is also author of the New York Times bestsellers God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It and The Great Awakening: Seven Ways To Change The World, Reviving Faith & Politics. His latest book is Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street.

Sojourners' mission is to articulate the biblical call to social justice, inspiring hope and building a movement to transform individuals, communities, the church, and the world. Visit www.sojo.net, and www.GodsPolitics.com.