Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Mercy Wavier for Unauthorized Immigrants

I've been wrestling in prayer sometimes all night long praying for unauthorized immigrants who are here without the necessary paperwork to help them live lives in the light.  Many have citizen children and citizen spouses.  Some have spouses who are permanent residents and citizen children.  Some have children who are legally here through the DACA program, renewable every two years.  Whatever the case, there are literally millions of children and families who are affected by deportation and removal.   

Things have heated up due to how the current administration is responding to unauthorized immigrants.  I've read stories of moms or dads being deported who have no other offenses than that they are here without papers.  Some have orders of removal but are otherwise good citizens who pay taxes, contribute to the community, attend churches and care for their families.

There have been some changes of focus lately due to the expanding of ICE's priorities.  Under the Obama administration, the focus was primarily on immigrants who had felony criminal records and those who pose a danger to the community.  They were violent offenders, sexual offenders and drug dealers--people who need to go. (Difference between Obama and Trumps focus.)

Every news story telling of a mom with little children or a dad with kids or a caregiver of a special needs child being deported hooks my heart.  Often I find myself unable to sleep and called to fervent prayer.  A few days ago, I woke before dawn with a word from the Lord that he would be giving a policy initiative that would help many families remain together and obtain the papers they need to remain with their children.  Two mornings later, I woke up with the idea and the Lord was specific--A Mercy Wavier.  With no other criminal offenses, often an order of removal is the only barrier to obtaining legal paperwork.   This barrier often hampers the petitions filed by citizen spouses.  This wavier would help many families have their orders of removal waved so they can become permanent residents.

The intention of this wavier would be to help families stay together to continue parenting their children.  The American Academy of Pediatrics has spoken out about the danger posed to children whose parents are being deported.  Many are experiencing Post traumatic stress with long range consequences for later life.

While it is true that parents who came across the border without inspection or over stayed a visa have broken the law.  The question I have is, does the punishment fit the crime when one must return to their home country without their citizen children and live a life with no hope of returning to the country where their spouses and children remain.  I sometimes wonder if we could impose a penalty that would "atone" for the broken law but still allow parents to remain with their families.  Honestly, we don't even impose such life long penalties on some of the worst criminals in our prison system.  Why would we impose such heavy penalties on people who have committed civil offenses but not criminal offenses.  (Immigration law is civil law in the category of traffic offenses).

What is the human cost to breaking up families?  What is the human cost for those children who are left behind?  What is the cost to spouses who will now struggle along on one income with increased daycare costs.  How will our social service costs rise?  How will 4.5 million children fare without one or both of their parents?

As a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, I believe policy makers can come up with a better, more creative and more humane way of responding to a national issue.  Often I see politicians and corporations who bend or break the law and we look the other way.  We excuse the powerful and the wealthy for their little "sins" while we lower the boom on those who might even have lesser offenses.  If we can have "mercy" for the powerful, can we not have mercy for the vulnerable?

Following is the content of a Mercy Wavier...

Legislation is needed to assist unauthorized immigrants who receive orders of removal that separate them from citizen children and spouses in the United States.  Children are left without parental and family support, often leading to trauma and harm.

Not wanting to leave family members behind, some unauthorized immigrants are able to apply for hardship waivers that enable them to stay in this country and obtain legal status.  However, hardship waivers are difficult to obtain, depending heavily on a strong case and a friendly and supportive judge who chooses to exercise prosecutorial discretion.

Therefore, we propose a mercy waiver which would be in the best interests of children and families.  A mercy waiver would be processed in the United States with appropriate health and background checks that comply with normal admission policies and protect security in this country.  This waiver would permit spouses or parents of citizens or DACA students to stay in this country and obtain permanent resident status.  Mercy waivers would not be granted to those with convictions for felonies or violent crimes.

Under current laws, some unauthorized immigrants who receive orders for removal do not leave because they are unwilling or afraid to be separated from family members.  If mercy waivers are made available, penalties could be imposed on those who fail to comply with an order for removal.  Penalties could include fines or community service.

A mercy waiver would reduce harm to children and families and give honest and hard-working immigrants a pathway to legal status.

I just discovered that such a bill is being authored in Congress as we speak... Here is the number:
H.R.1036 - American Families United Act 

https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press room/Pages/AAPStatementonProtectingImmigrantChildren.aspx










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