Several members of President Donald Trump's evangelical advisory council gathered yesterday in support of Democrat and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, in a bipartisan effort to fight for the preservation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration programme.
DACA was established under the Obama administration to defend 'dreamers', young immigrants brought into the country illegally as children. It protects them from deportation and allows them to work legally. Trump announced last year – to significant outrage from several evangelicals – that he was planning to dismantle the DACA programme.
Most prominent among the bipartisan meeting was the Rev Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. Rodriguez prayed at Trump's inauguration, but has also been critical of the threat to young, vulnerable immigrants posed by the president's decision.
'You have always taken the lead. Your commitment to the immigrant community to the 'Dreamers' is second to none. So America is in a better place because of your prophetic leadership on this matter,' Rodriguez told Pelosi on Thursday, according to The Hill.
He added: 'We can't continue to play politics with 800,000 human beings created in the image of God. It is morally reprehensible.'
Trump and Republican leaders have suggested that DACA could be protected – if new legislation included funding for Trump's infamous border wall with Mexico. Congress is battling to reach a viable solution in order to avoid government shutdown on Friday night.
'If we have to build a wall in order to secure and save 800,000 lives, let's make that happen as expeditiously as possible,' Rodriguez said. 'Let's cross the proverbial [River] Jordan of saving our DACA young men and women. Let's do it now.'
Johnnie Moore, known as the 'evangelical gatekeeper' to the White House and unofficial spokesperson for Trump's evangelical advisory board, said that defending DACA was a top priority for the majority of Christian leaders, according to the Washington Post.
'Nearly every Christian leader, everyone is very concerned about making sure there is a permanent decision for dreamers, and those of us close to the administration believe that the president is speaking with sincerity when he says he wants a bill that protects dreamers. We don't have any questions about his point of view,' Moore said.
Pelosi told the press conference: 'We're joined together in the spirit of bipartisanship, compelled by our faith, to protect our dreamers.'