A Statement in Support of the Dream Act of 2017 by the Coalition of Religious Leaders

November 3, 2017 | GNJ News

The Coalition of Religious Leaders here in New Jersey expresses their deep concern and opposition to President Trump’s plan to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program. We believe that this action is a clear violation of our faith principles of hospitality, compassion and justice. We believe the President’s decision to end this program threatens the emotional, social, and economic stability for millions of individuals and tears at the fabric of our country. The young people, who have been protected from deportation by DACA, attend our schools, serve in our military, are members of our faith communities, and make significant contributions to our economy. Their hopes and dreams are no different from the children who are born here and there is no legitimate reason for inflicting this needless suffering on these children. Their only crime, if you even call it that, was that they lovingly and obediently accompanied their parents in pursuit of the dream of freedom and opportunity.

We, the Religious Leaders of New Jersey deeply lament the pain and fear that so many young immigrants are experiencing in the wake of the President’s decision to terminate the DACA Program. We condemn this shameful and unacceptable position. We will not stand by as DACA youth, as well as undocumented immigrants, are blamed for the economic and social problems facing our nation.

We call upon members of our New Jersey Congressional delegation to support the Dream Act of 2017 (S 1615/HR 3440). This act will protect almost 800,000 youth who entered the United States as children and know America as their only home. Tens of thousands dreamers call New Jersey home.

Our respective faiths call us to welcome the dreamer, and we stand with them in this moment of time. It is for us a moral imperative that we call upon our representatives in Congress to support the Dream Act of 2017. We call upon our member congregations to pray and advocate for the dreamer and to uphold the dignity of every person and work for the common good.  Let us exemplify our best ideals and beliefs.


Rev. Leslie Dobbs-Allsopp
Interim Executive of the Elizabeth Presbytery

Rev. Darrell Armstrong
General Baptist Convention of NJ

Very Rev. Peter A. Baktis
Orthodox Church of America

Bishop Tracie Bartholomew
Bishop, NJ Synod Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Imam Qareeb Bashir
Islamic Center of Ewing

Bishop Mark Beckwith
Episcopal Diocese of Newark

Rev. Charles Boyer
Pastor, Bethel AME Church of Woodbury, NJ

Deacon Patrick Brannigan
Executive Director of the NJ Catholic Conference

Rev. Dr. Debra Brincivalli
Presbytery Executive, West Jersey Presbytery

Rev. Dr. Ursula Cargill
Reformed Church of America, Synod of NJ

M. Ali Chaudry, Ph.D.
Islamic Society of Basking Ridge

The Most Reverend James F. Checchio
Bishop of the Diocese of Metuchen

Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale
Reformed Church of America, Synod of NJ

Rev. Dr. Harold Delhagen
Presbyterian Synod of the Northeast

Joan M. Diefenbach, Esq.
Executive Director NJ Council of Churches

Rabbi Menashe East
Mount Freedom Jewish Center, Interfaith Council of Morris County

Rev. Dr. Elmo Familiaran
Interim Executive Minister, American Baptist Churches of New Jersey

Rabbi Matthew Gewirtz
Congregation B’nai Jeshurun

Father Timothy Graff
Archdiocese of Newark

Rev. Rob Gregson
Executive Director Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of NJ

Rev. Jack Johnson
Coordinator, Coalition of Religious Leaders

Father Joe Kwiatkowski
Office of Social Concerns, Newark Archdiocese

Rev. Sara Lilja
Director of the Lutheran Office of Governmental Ministries

Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley
General Secretary Emeritus, American Baptist Churches
Past President National Council of Churches

Rev. David Popham
Associate Conference Minister, Central Atlantic Conference of the United Church of Christ

Rev. Jeanne Radak
Presbytery Leader, Newton Presbytery

Bishop John Schol
Greater NJ Conference of the United Methodist Church

Imam W Deen Shareef
Convener of the Council of Imams in NJ, Resident Imam at Masjid Waarith ud Deen

Rabbi Alan Silverstein
Congregation Agudath Israel, Past President Rabbinical Assembly

Rev. Barbara Smith
Executive Presbyter, Newark Presbytery

Bishop William Stokes
Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey

Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin
Archdiocese of Newark

Rev. Bob Tomlinson
Executive Presbyter, New Brunswick Presbytery

Rev. Dr. Robert Wade
Presiding Elder of Camden-Trenton District AME

Rabbi Gerald Zelizer
Temple Neve Shalom
Rabbi Emeritus