The Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU), an association of over 170 Christian institutions in North America and internationally, is calling on U.S. lawmakers to pass a bill that would provide protections to undocumented immigrants, similar to the protections offered in former President Obama’s executive orders.
Called the Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy (BRIDGE) Act, the bill was introduced in Congress in early December, and seeks to amend existing immigration law to offer provisional protection from deportation and authorization to work in the U.S. to those who are eligible.
Eligibility requirements include having been under the age of 16 upon arrival to the U.S.; and being a current student or a high school graduate, or having obtained a GED certificate. The BRIDGE Act would also ensure that DACA recipients remain protected until the expiration date of the status. Those protected under the BRIDGE Act would receive protection for three years.
The CCCU, which includes affiliate universities such as Biola University, Azusa Pacific University, and Wheaton College, sent a letter dated January 12 to Senators Richard Durbin and Lindsey Graham expressing its support for the legislation.
“The CCCU has long been a proponent of comprehensive immigration reform that respects the rule of law and creates new opportunities for the many undocumented students currently attending CCCU campuses,” wrote Shirley V. Hoogstra, the president of the CCCU. Hoogstra is the fifth consecutive president to express support for offering protections for young undocumented immigrants.
In the letter, Hoogstra notes that a lack of legal status provides “significant uncertainty” to young immigrants, which “prohibits these students from using their God-given talents, abilities, and skills, and it squanders the significant educational investment our country has already made so that they can contribute to communities.”
“As educators, we want to support ambitious, driven, intelligent students who have dreams of contributing to their communities and want to pursue an education, and we do not believe they should be disqualified from doing so because of acts they did not commit,” Hoogstra continues. “These are inequities that must be remedied.”
Supporters of immigration reform have expressed alarm in recent months as President Trump has had a harsh rhetoric towards immigration during his presidential campaign. On Wednesday, Trump signed two executive orders to build a physical wall along America’s southern border, as well as to employ more officers in border patrol and immigration enforcement.
Meanwhile, a February 2015 study conducted by LifeWay Research showed that 68 percent of evangelicals believe “it is important for Congress to pass significant new immigration legislation.” Over 8-in-10 (82 percent of) evangelicals said those immigration reforms “should respect people’s God-given dignity,” and 72 percent of evangelicals said immigration reform “should protect the unity of the immediate family.”