Evangelicals on the President's informal faith advisory board believe their access to the White House made a difference in protecting young immigrants from an immediate end to what's known as the DACA program.
Rev. Tony Suarez, executive vice president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), told CBN News Tuesday, "I feel like our work on the faith advisory council is vindicated today...this is precisely why we joined way back in the campaign last year because we felt if we had access to this office, if we had access to this man we needed to speak truth to power, believing that at some point God would touch, God would convict and there would be compassion for children."
Members of the president's faith advisory council met with him and White House officials on Friday and discussed DACA as well as other political priorities. Council member Bishop Harry Jackson attended and told CBN News he thinks the board helped to make a difference for Dreamers--as those in the DACA program are often known. "The evangelical church had the president's ear," he said calling the six month extension "an extreme act of mercy."
In the Washington Post, Pastor Jentezen Franklin described attending the meeting and telling the president that he knows Dreamers and affirming that they're "good kids."
On Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a six-month phase-out of the "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals" program, initiated by President Obama in a 2012 executive order. DACA has provided nearly 800,000 young immigrants, brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents, with two-year renewable work permits that have allowed them both to seek employment and attend universities.
Johnnie Moore, another member of the faith advisory council, says the NHCLC played a major role in persuading the president to adopt the six-month extension. He tweeted that the Hispanic evangelical organization deserves credit "for tireless work. They will put unrelenting pressure on Congress too."
The NHCLC and other pro-immigrant groups have long lobbied Congress for legislative reform for Dreamers and other illegal immigrants while anti-immigrant groups have lobbied for an end to DACA and fought against immigration reform.
The NHCLC is now ramping up efforts to pressure Congress to pass a legislative solution to allow Dreamers to legally stay in the U.S. Its 60-day campaign will focus on quickly passing legislation before Congress diverts to other issues.
Other evangelicals, however, are urging Congress to think carefully before offering legal status to Dreamers. Author Eric Metaxas, Wallbuilders founder David Barton, Lt. Gen. (Ret.) William Boykin of the Family Research Council and others who have joined the ad hoc forum "Evangelicals for Biblical Immigration" are urging Congress to not only treat undocumented immigrants kindly but to first remember Americans who arrived in the U.S. lawfully.