Catholics were on the front lines this week, praying rosaries and gathering to support undocumented children of migrants as the U.S. Supreme Court heard held hearings to determine the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program, and the legality of President Trump’s move to end it.
In a released statement, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, of Austin and Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Migration, “We continue to urge Congress and the President to work together to find a permanent legislative solution to the plight of all DREAMers, including DACA beneficiaries. In the meantime, ending DACA would disrupt DACA recipients’ continued contributions and integration to our country and could needlessly separate them from their families. Not allowing these young people to continue to utilize DACA to reach their God-given potential is against the common good and our nation’s history of welcoming the immigrant.”
The DACA program has been successful in protecting 800,000 “Dreamers,” young people who arrived in the U.S. as children with their parents but without legal documentation. Qualifying recipients can obtain work permits, health insurance, a driver's license and do not face deportation.
Catholic leaders were part of two separate amicus briefs in support of DACA. One brief was filed by the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, Catholic Charities USA, the Catholic Health Association, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc., the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Center for Migration Studies, among others.
In 2017, the California Catholic Conference of Bishops issued a statement supporting DACA recipients, urging that, “Sustaining the status of DACA students against the current threats is imperative but more must be done. We urge all responsible political leadership at the state and federal level to work for comprehensive immigration reform and to put meaningful and effective immigration reform on the President’s desk before the DACA program expires. This is the most reasonable and sustainable remedy for the DACA students and their families, and for all immigrants.
Gráinne McEvoy, an independent scholar based in South Bend, Indiana, is currently writing a book on American Catholic social thought and immigration policy in the 20th century, offered statistics that restore the human element to DACA in her piece DACA and the Compassionate Rule of Law.
“The average DREAMer was only six years of age when they arrived in the U.S. Today, almost two-thirds are younger than 25 years old, with another third aged between 26 and 35 years of age. Seventy-two percent are in higher education and 90 percent are employed, many in better-paying jobs than before receiving DACA. Many have started to establish families of their own. Seventy percent of DACA recipients are married to a U.S. citizen and 20 percent have at least one U.S. citizen child,” McEvoy wrote.
Click here for an in-depth profile of several California DREAMers.