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Our immigrant neighbors and DACA

Dear Bethel students, staff, and faculty:

The recent decision by President Trump to cease the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and to charge Congress with passing immigration-related legislation within six months has created anxiety and fear among our immigrant neighbors and their loved ones. This also leaves many of our neighbors of color feeling unwelcome in our communities and country. 

As a university that was founded by immigrants and as an institution that seeks to live by the biblical mandate to love our neighbors as ourselves, we are deeply troubled by this decision.

We reaffirm what we wrote to you on February 13, 2017. 

"As a university we are committed to caring for students and employees who are affected by changes in immigration laws or policies or practices that discriminate against people based on their ethnicity, religion, or place of birth. We want Bethel to be a caring and safe place for those who are vulnerable to such forms of discrimination. We will follow the privacy restrictions that are part of the Family [Educational] Rights and Privacy Act. We will expect appropriate legal documentation such as warrants when information is requested by outside authorities. We will continue to offer admission and to provide financial aid to students who are vulnerable. We will also partner with Bethel alumni and friends to connect students to legal resources that specialize in immigration and refugee issues. We will do everything we can to support our students and employees during these challenging times because of our commitment to Christ and our love for our neighbors."

We will implore members of Congress to act wisely and swiftly to pass legislation to protect and care for persons who have been covered by DACA. These are persons made in the image of God and for whom DACA provided access to education and employment as contributing members of our society. We will also continue our advocacy work through our memberships in the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) and the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), both of which have spoken out on this issue as well. 

We pray that our political leaders will work together across party lines for the common good of our country and the immigrants among us.

Jay Barnes, president
Deb Harless, executive vice president and provost
Ruben Rivera, chief diversity officer