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Open Letter on the Rescinding of DACA

October 3, 2017
Defend DACA

An open letter from the Center for the Church in the Black Experience, the Hispanic-Latinx Center, and the Asian/Asian-American Ministries Center of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.

The recent rescinding of DACA (the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) was a misguided policy decision based on ignoble motives to which we, the undersigned faculty members of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, must reply. As theological educators who are interested in the flourishing of all of God’s creation and who are committed to the recognition of God’s Image in all of humanity, we cannot remain silent in the face of what we take to be an assault on both. We further oppose this policy because we take it as a continuation of efforts by this current national administration to specifically target Brown and Black immigrant populations for incarceration and deportation. In our estimation, this very specific targeting of Latinx, Asian, Caribbean, African, and Muslim communities is an explicit part of a white nationalist agenda of ethnic cleansing that will affect the future population of the United States of America. While our opposition to these policies do have political implications, it is first and foremost rooted in our religious concerns and theological commitments as Christians.

The religious concerns which bring us to this point are several, yet we will name only two here. First, in our understanding of what it means to stand before each other and our government as representatives of a living and “legal” tradition, any official policy that explicitly or implicitly targets one racial/ethnic or religious group for policing and removal cannot be just. Similarly, we cannot consider just any policies that seek to incite violence against and exclusion of our neighbors of different racial/ethnic groups or religion in the public square. The various immigration bans sought by this current national administration do these very things. We are very clear that the repeal of DACA and the institution of travel bans are part of the same white nationalist project. Collectively, these policies play a role in the larger project of calling into question the legitimacy of the presence of Brown and Black immigrants in our midst. Although some attempts have been made to explain these policies as merely enforcing “the rule of law,” they do not recognize or address the absolute lack of concern on the part of the government for those who are white and undocumented. Second, it is our sense that the particular framing of “legitimate” American identity is one that fuses race and nation in an unholy construction of Christian identity which to our ears is blasphemous. For us, God is neither white nor beholden to a particular brand of Christianity.

The theological concerns that we bring are rooted in our commitment to the truth that all are God’s children, and there is no such thing as an “illegal” human being. Furthermore, the policies of this current national administration are so transparently rooted in excluding persons according to their race and ethnicity--the very ways we experience and express our humanity--that the language of “illegal” bears far more weight than just the intricacies of immigration policy. Instead, today’s rhetoric about immigration calls into question not only the right of some to be in our midst but, in a more sinister way, their very right to exist. The increasing instances of violence by ordinary citizens and the brutality by agents of the government against those deemed likely “illegal” (based solely on their skin color, language spoken, or dress) proves this point. These antagonistic policies imply that those deemed “illegal” are likewise deemed incapable of being bearers of the Imago Dei, and therefore they are not thought to be sacred in any way. We consider the theological implications of such policies to be heretical.

For the reasons outlined above, we call upon all people of goodwill to work in whatever ways they can to support persons and communities affected by the repeal of DACA. Further we call on our local and national legislatures to put in place policies which recognize the basic humanity of all God’s children. Finally, we call upon this current national administration to cease these white nationalist policies of ethnic cleansing that only bring shame and the judgment of history upon our nation.

For further information about all of the upcoming events that Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary has scheduled to explore these issues more fully, please see the list and links below.


Center for the Church in the Black Experience

Angela R. Cowser, Director and Assistant Professor of the Sociology of Religion

Cheryl B. Anderson, Professor of Old Testament

Trina Armstrong, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Theology and Pastoral Care

Reginald Blount, Assistant Professor of Formation, Youth, and Culture

Gennifer B. Brooks, Ernest and Bernice Styberg Professor of Preaching

Stephen G. Ray Jr., Neal A. and Ila F. Fisher Professor of Theology

Hispanic-Latinx Center

Débora  B. A. Junker, Director and Assistant Professor Christian Education

Nancy E. Bedford, Georgia Harkness Professor of Applied Theology

Luis R. Rivera, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Academic Dean

Osvaldo Vena, Professor of New Testament Interpretation


Asian/Asian-American Ministries Center

Wonhee Anne Joh, Director and Professor of Theology and Culture

Jaeyeon Lucy Chung, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Theology

Mai-Anh Le Tran, Associate Professor of Religious Education and Practical Theology

K.K. Yeo, Harry R. Kendall Professor of New Testament


Upcoming Events

Courageous Conversations on Immigration and DACA
October 4 | 12-1:15 p.m. |  Learn More

Worship, Community Meal, and DACA Teach-In Led by Rev. Dr. Cheryl Anderson, Rev. Dr. Stephen Ray, and Taurean Webb
October 11  |  4 p.m., 5:15 p.m., and 6 p.m.  |    Learn More

Such a Time as This Webinar: Proclaiming Justice and featuring Rev. Dr. Gennifer Brooks and Rev. Dr. Stephen Ray
October 30  |  12-1 p.m.  |  Learn More and Register

Holocaust Museum Tour with the Hispanic-Latinx Center and the Center for the Church and the Black Experience
November 10  |  12:15 p.m.  |  Learn More

Proclaiming Justice as Christian Hospitality in the Context of DACA
Public Lecture by Rev. Alexia Salvatierra
November 15  |  6 p.m.  |  Learn More