In this season of Advent, we in our Christian churches speak often about how this is a time of waiting and preparation leading up to the celebration of the birth of Jesus. We are reminded that the world was waiting for the Light of the World to enter the world, and in the same way, Christians everywhere wait for the day when Christ will come again. This is the season when waiting is the norm.
But this shouldn't be the norm in Congress. Many of us, who will be both directly and indirectly affected by the passage of the DREAM Act, are ready for the waiting to end.
This bill has never been anything other than bi-partisan. This is the non-controversial piece of comprehensive immigration reform. It provides a means for the best and the brightest -- those who have the most to give back to our country and contribute in meaningful ways -- to stay in this country and earn a path to citizenship. These immigrant youth 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.
I have met some of these young men and women and heard their stories. They love this country. They have family here. They want to contribute to the greater good. But even after earning a college degree or serving in the military, they can't get a job because of their immigration status. And they 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.
It is difficult for many of us to advocate for this legislation outside of a comprehensive immigration reform package, but it's clear that the only way to be successful is through an incremental approach. I can only hope that if we pass DREAM, (and lo and behold the world doesn't end) perhaps it will make it easier to address other aspects of our broken system that separate families, fail to protect workers, and make it difficult for American businesses to hire the best and brightest from around the world. These are all things that need to be addressed through comprehensive immigration reform.
And so we wait. But we wait; and we advocate with the media; and we call our members of Congress; and we talk to our neighbors; and we pray. We pray a lot because we know that at the end of the day, God has the power to change hearts and minds even if we can't. And yet we still need to make the calls and the visits and send the emails so that we can enter into the sacred work that God is already doing on behalf of God's people.
SO CALL NOW! We just learned that a vote on the DREAM Act in the House is imminent. We need to do everything we can do to ensure that the time of waiting for all of these children of God is nearing an end.
Rev. Jennifer Kottler is the Director of Policy and Advocacy at Sojourners. A long-time advocate for justice, Jennifer has served in advocacy ministry for more than eight years through her work at Protestants for the Common Good (Chicago, IL), the Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign, and the Chicago Jobs Council.