The Council for Christian Colleges and Universities sent a letter to Senators Richard Durbin and Lindsey Graham on Jan. 12 in support of the proposed Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream of Growing our Economy Act, or BRIDGE.
According to the National Immigration Law Center, Durbin and Graham introduced BRIDGE in Dec. 2016 as a bipartisan effort to protect and benefit undocumented immigrants. The bill would provide temporary legal status to those who were eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which gave undocumented immigrants who entered the country as children a work permit and protected them from deportation. The BRIDGE Act does not provide a path to U.S. citizenship. Under the BRIDGE Act, immigrants could receive legal status and work authorization for three years after the bill is passed.
CCCU President Shirley V. Hoogstra is the fifth consecutive president to favor legislation supporting citizenship or legal residency for young undocumented immigrants. Hoogstra’s letter said that the CCCU has supported such legislation “at every opportunity,” beginning with the 2001 Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. It argues that children who are illegally brought to the United States are unfairly denied an education and work opportunities, inhibiting them from “using their God-given gifts, talents, abilities, and skills” and contributing to their communities. The letter also contains the trials and accomplishments of three undocumented immigrants at CCCU schools.
The CCCU is an association of 115 regionally accredited Christian colleges and universities in North America, including Wheaton, as well as 63 campuses in 20 different countries. These institutions represent 35 Protestant denominations as well as Catholicism. Their mission is “to advance the cause of Christ-centered higher education and to help our institutions transform lives by faithfully relating scholarship and service to biblical truth.”
“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 wrote at the conclusion of the letter. “These are inequities that must be remedied.”