Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Mayra Cedano attends a gathering of DACA supporters at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017. President Donald Trump is dismantling DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the government program protecting hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children. Cedano came to America through the DACA program when she was 11-years-old.

We are members of the Utah Valley University Executive Committee for the Peace and Justice Studies Program: a program committed to teaching and applying principles and practices leading to the just treatment of all human beings. We write this open letter to express our support for the letter of Sept. 6, 2017, signed by the presidents of the major institutions of higher education in Utah. We are deeply disturbed by the recent position taken by the president of the United States about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The actions of the president have placed many of our students in a position of damaging and cruel uncertainty in which their sense of identity and well-being are under attack. They are threatened by rejection by the nation they have come to love, serve and revere.

DACA students make major contributions to our classrooms, have become our friends and companions and demonstrate the promise of significant contributions and leadership in our communities. They are not lawbreakers, nor are they responsible for their lack of legal immigrant status. They are neither subversive nor terrorists. They are responsible citizens: learners, workers, educators, creators and leaders. They are well integrated into our schools, universities, churches and communities. They are an essential part of the richness of Utah’s population. We benefit culturally, socially and economically from their presence.

U.S. Catholic bishops characterize the president’s announcements on DACA as “reprehensible” and the president’s decision as “unacceptable.” The major Protestant denominations have expressed strong opposition to the actions of the president and are uniformly in favor of the Dream Act of 2017. Jewish and Muslim religious leaders are appalled by the presidential stance. In 2014, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints affirmed its support for the Utah Compact and advocated for immigration policies that strengthen families and treat all immigrants in a Christlike manner. In other words, the moral and religious leaders of the nation are in emphatic agreement over the immorality of the presidential action and the need for a humane solution. Many religious leaders have pointed to scripture as a source of guidance:

"Then he took a child, set him in front of them, and put his arm around him. ‘Whoever receives a child like this in my name’ he said, ’receives me.’"

The actions we take now will tell us volumes about who we are as Utahns and what you stand for. Do you represent the views of Utah’s religious faiths, principles of humane action and our heritage as a nation? Or are our leaders simply partisan politicians whose moral and religious beliefs are checked at the door when political power and wealth beckon?

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It is our responsibility as a people of strong moral conviction — those of us who are concerned about justice — to act compassionately and justly in the case of these young people and welcome with open arms and hearts the young men and women who trusted us enough to come out as Dreamers. We plead with our elected officials to be leaders in the moral and humane movement to pass a version of the bipartisan Dream Act of 2017. Make it so all children and young people can work, go to school and dream the dreams that are only possible when a future is secure and not threatened by looming deportation.

Signed by Lynn England, Director; Michael Minch; Kindra Amott; Geoffrey Cockerham; Lars Eggertsen; Gregory Jackson; Patience Kabamba; John Macfarlane; Susan Merrill; Jenna Nigro; Bob Norton; Michael Goode; Keith Snedegar.