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What does it mean to be a dreamer?
Being a dreamer can call up images of freedom and peace. We can easily link the image to childhood, young children looking out classroom windows wistfully dreaming about summer as they face challenges of a new academic year, new friends, and more homework than the year before.
Or we can link the image to the passionate words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the Washington Mall. "I have a dream" - words forever linked to the dream of racial justice and a vision that all children would find welcome and equality in this country. This work of racial justice we need to address continually, as recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia and other locations throughout this country have tragically and painfully reminded us.
Today many of us link the image of the word "dreamer" to those young women and men who were welcomed into this country under DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) beginning in 2012. Through General Convention resolutions, The Episcopal Church has expressed support for DREAMers and DACA. (Link here and here.) As a church that seeks to be welcoming and inclusive, we open our hearts as well as our doors to offer hospitality to these young people seeking education, a new life, and peace. Over 800,000 young people have been welcomed into this country through DACA and over 10,000 of the DREAMers live in Connecticut. Fleeing persecution and insurmountable challenges they arrived in this country as children and this is the only home they have ever known. As your bishops we have been blessed to walk with some of the DREAMers in Connecticut and we can share with you that our hearts have been transformed by their stories and their hopes.
As Christians, Holy Scripture and Jesus call us to welcome the stranger, opening our hearts in love. Our Episcopal Church leaders, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and President of the House of Deputies Gay Jennings, have written in their September 5 statement: "we call on our nation to live up to its highest ideals and most deeply held values, and we call on Congress to take action to protect these young people and to formulate a comprehensive immigration policy that is moral and consistent and that allows immigrants who want to contribute to this country the chance to do so while keeping our borders secure from those whose business is in drugs, human trafficking or terror." ( Link here to full statement in English and Spanish.) We are committed to supporting the DREAMers and walking with them to find opportunities for education and new life in this their home.
We urge you to reach out to our elected officials in Washington to share with them your thoughts and your hopes regarding DACA, encouraging them to work together so that these young people in our nation can achieve the dream of a pathway to citizenship. We also celebrate and support the good and hard work of Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Service - IRIS ( link here) as it faithfully serves immigrants and refugees in Connecticut. We are blessed to stand in partnership with this passionate and professional organization.
We commend the future of DREAMers to your prayer and action.
The Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas, Bishop Diocesan
The Rt. Rev. Laura J. Ahrens, Bishop Suffragan