President Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program, but the Resurrection Project is loving immigrants as they would themselves in their city wide effort to protect Chicago migrants from being deported. Currently, Hundreds of navigators are being trained to educate immigrants being treated as ‘strangers in the land of Egypt’
Since President Trump announced he would end the Obama-era program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival, or DACA, in September of 2017, the Resurrection Project has partnered with the Chicago Legal Defense Fund to spearhead an initiative to stop deportations of immigrants throughout the city of Chicago. The Resurrection Project’s mission is to build relationships and challenge individuals to act on their faith and values by creating community, ownership, building community wealth and serving as stewards of community assets.
DACA began in June of 2012 under the President Obama’s administration. DACA was an American immigration policy that allowed some individuals who entered the country as minors, and had either entered or remained in the country illegally, to receive a renewable two year period of protection from being deported. DACA recipients were eligible to work during the two year period.
President Trump may have had little regard for how God has commanded his people to treat people considered to be outsiders or foreigners within a specific region or community. In the Old Testament (King James Version ) Leviticus 19:33-34 states “And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”
The Resurrection Project and the Chicago Legal Protection Fund are honoring what God has commanded of his people in Holy Scripture. On July 13, 2017 the Chicago Legal Protection Fund created over 300 Community Navigators to help educate immigrants and refugees on their legal rights in response to President Trump initiative to end residency protection for DACA recipients, the Office of Mayor announced.
Community Navigators are loving foreigners as themselves
President Trump has used the word ‘infest’ and ‘animals’ in references he has made about undocumented immigrants. The Chicago Legal Defense Fund and The Resurrection Project are not embracing President Trump’s attitude on immigration. Rather, they are following God’s Holy Scripture in Deuteronomy 10:19. God commands his people to love those who are foreigners and he reminds his people that they too had been foreigners in Egypt.
The Chicago Legal Defense Fund has hosted Community Navigator Training sessions for individuals throughout the City of Chicago. The sessions are held to educate immigrants in their community on how to interact with police and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in order to prevent immigrants from being targeted for deportation. ICE enforces federal laws governing border control, customs, trade and immigration to promote homeland security and public safety.
“What we are doing today is that we gather the folks who are out in the community giving information,” Erendira Rendon, a Community Navigator said. “They (community navigation trainees) are prepared to go out, give this vital information… Today we are doing in depth training”
Educating Chicagoans and immigrants regarding their rights is a centerpiece of the program, according to Rendon. “If immigration shows up at their house they should feel empowered not to open the door and not to answer questions.”
Immigrants being treated as ‘strangers’ now have access to legal representation
President Trump may not have taken into consideration the number of women, men and children who could become homeless as a result of being deported from their homes and communities. Community Navigation leaders aim to obtain legal representation for immigrants at risk of being deported from the United States. These leaders share the same values as the morally upright Job, who lived in the Land of Uz. In Job 31:32, Job discusses his devotion to God. No stranger had to spend the night in the street, for my door was always open to the traveler.
Jane Lombardi, the Director of Citizenship and Immigration Services at Erie Neighborhood House, said there is a significant need for representation in immigration court/removal proceedings because immigrants aren’t automatically appointed to an attorney. In contrast to the criminal justice system, immigrants facing deportation have to find an attorney at their own expense.
Lombardi said nationally only 37% of immigrants secure representation in removal cases. According to Lombardi most of these cases were with private attorneys that low-income immigrants cannot afford.
“In Chicago, there are only 8 nonprofits of over 50 nonprofit legal service providers that provide removal cases, and currently there is a backlog of over 25,000 removal defense cases pending in Chicago,” she said. “Seeing that need, we have been able to adapt our services and provide much needed representation at a low cost to the low-income immigrant community facing deportation.”
Community Navigators are fulfilling God’s law in keeping one command
In Galatians 5:14 God commands his people to “love their [your] neighbor as themselves [yourself]. Lombardi is fulfilling God’s commandment as she directs her department to ensure immigrants remain in the country despite the challenges President Trump policies has presented the Citizenship and Immigration Services department.
Lombardi said recent court injunctions will enable her department to assist individuals with renewing their DACA status. On January 9, 2018 a federal judge temporarily blocked the Trump administration efforts to end the Deferred Action for Childhood arrivals Program. “Something we have done as legal service providers is for any DACA recipient or applicant coming in to our office, we conduct a full legal screening to see if folks are potentially eligible for a permanent form of immigration relief such as a family petition or U-visa for victims of crimes,” Lombardi said.
By Latricia C. Wilson