USCCB calls on Catholics to take action for Dreamers

Demonstrators calling for new protections for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program gather outside the U.S. Capitol in late January in Washington. (CNS photo/Jim Lo Scalzo, EPA)

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops are urging Catholics to call Congress and demand they act on behalf of “Dreamers,” undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as minors but have been allowed to stay under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an Obama administration policy that protected them from deportation.

The Trump administration announced in September that it would end DACA.

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“We are deeply disappointed that the Senate was not able to come together in a bipartisan manner to secure legislative protection for the Dreamers,” Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Austin, Tex., the president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, the U.S.C.C.B. vice president, and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Tex., chairman of the U.S. bishops' migration committee said in a joint statement Feb. 19. “We ask once again that members of Congress show the leadership necessary to find a just and humane solution for these young people, who daily face mounting anxiety and uncertainty,” the bishops said in their statement, announcing a national call-in day to protect Dreamers on Feb. 26. The call comes after the Senate failed to pass a bill last week.

“We are deeply disappointed that the Senate was not able to come together in a bipartisan manner to secure legislative protection for the Dreamers."

Next weekend, the U.S. bishops will be calling on the Catholic faithful to act on behalf of Dreamers. The bishops are calling for legislation that permanently protects Dreamers from deportation and provides them a path to citizenship. Such legislation should not take away “existing protections for families and unaccompanied minors,” the bishops said.

“Our faith compels us to stand with the vulnerable, including our immigrant brothers and sisters,” the bishops said. “We have done so continually, but we must show our support and solidarity now in a special way. Now is the time for action.”

An estimated 800,000 Dreamers have been protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, yet the Center for Migration Studies in New York estimates that more than 2.2 million Dreamers are in the United States. Recent court decisions have temporarily blocked the Trump administration from ending DACA March 5. But the rulings only impact DACA renewals and do not require new applications to be accepted.

The Trump administration had introduced a proposal that includes a path to citizenship for Dreamers but would also increase border security, curtail family-based migration and eliminate the diversity visa program, which brings in a limited number of people from parts of the world with relatively few immigrants to the United States. Last week, Archbishop Gomez acknowledged the need for secure borders but took issue with restricting family-based immigration, which the Trump administration has referred to as “chain migration.” The United States already limits the number of family-based visas granted each year.

“Our faith compels us to stand with the vulnerable, including our immigrant brothers and sisters.”

Kevin Appleby, senior director of international immigration policy for the Center for Migration Studies,, said the success of any legislative effort will depend largely on what the Trump administration would accept.

“It’s not over yet,” Mr. Appleby said in an interview with America. “There will be another attempt to pass something through the Senate, something narrower perhaps, for the Dreamers and with border security.”

The Feb. 26 call-in is good timing, he said, because Congress members will be returning from recess that day. He believes it will create a new sense of urgency.

“If there was a president willing to sign a reasonable bill, there would be the votes,” Mr. Appleby said. “Does Trump really want to help the Dreamers or not? Because he is getting something in return. Does he want to be saddled with deporting these young people?”

Ashley Feasley, director of migration policy and public affairs at the U.S.C.C.B., hopes calling Congress will help overcome last week’s legislative impasse. Measures that would pass through one house of Congress may not pass through the other, and the Trump administration has criticized compromise bills.

“What’s happening is that we’re losing touch with the human consequences of this,” Ms. Feasley said of the looming March 5 deadline, adding that church leaders throughout the country are hearing from Dreamers. “We have to work as hard as we can so that Congress makes a move.”

When Catholics call the offices of their representatives, they help voice the views of more than 70 percent of Americans who support legislation that allows Dreamers to stay in the United States.

“What’s happening is that we’re losing touch with the human consequences of this. We have to work as hard as we can so that Congress makes a move.”

“The bishops are asking the faithful to call. They will continue pushing for a resolution to this issue,” Ms. Feasley said. “It’s more than just pressing a button on your computer. We have to get this done.”

 

This article has been updated with an interview with Ashley Feasley, director of migration policy and public affairs at the U.S.C.C.B.

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Douglas Arnold
7 months ago

It would be good to hear this message at the parish level.

Vincent Gaglione
7 months ago

AMEN!

Mike Macrie
6 months 3 weeks ago

Amen

Vincent Gaglione
7 months ago

For those of us in states in which we have Representatives and Senators willing to make such legislation a reality, the question becomes exactly who is barring progress. When House Speaker Paul Ryan offers no challenge to a President or his own members who demand reactionary conditions to such legislation, one does wonder whether or not the Catholic bishops are going through motions for public relations purposes as opposed to moral outrage. The situation seems to me to be worthy of the same kinds of outrage and censure expressed by bishops for other issues! A little bit of "Christ and the money changers in the Temple" does seem appropriate to me.

Douglas Arnold
7 months ago

Good analogy!

Stuart Meisenzahl
7 months ago

Vince
The simple fact is that "those of you in States in which Representatives and Senators are willing to make such legislation a reality" do not control a majority of votes. A compromise is required and the representatives of New York and California and Connecticut seem to prefer keeping this a political issue for the 2018 rather than compromise.
Please read the Jordan Report of 1995 and you will quickly discover that the Trump proposal is rooted solidly in the recommendations of a bipartisan commission chaired by Barbra Jordan, a black Democrat, Civil Rights leader. Not only did the Jordan Commission recommend cutting immigration totals but it also recommended judging the economic impact of the proposed immigrants with the further recommendation that emphasis should be placed on those who would bring skills that would add to our economic growth.
If this is such a pressing moral issue for your Senators and Representatives , almost all of whom were in office in 2009 then why didn't the Veto Proof , Filibuster Proof Democratic Congress and President Obama fix this situation as he promised to do in his first year in office.? To compound this failure , you should note that in 2009-2010 Chuck Schumer was the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Immigration responsible for introducing such legislation .
DACA was only established by Obama as a political bandaid for the 2012 election when he was "called" for his broken promise by the "Dreamers".

I do not recall the Bishops screaming for action as moral imperative during the 2009-2012 period nor challenging the DACA order as only being "temporary by its terms". Morality in this case seems to be more a function of politics than applied theology . The Bishops demand for a required path to citizenship seems a rather novel theological issue and is a pure case of "politicking" well beyond their competency to comment on the moral implications of any proposed legislation. The Bishops can rightfully comment on the moral implications of any proposed legislation but it is not their function to recommend or provide support for any particular piece of legislation.

The only obvious fact is that the great Regan Amnesty was not followed by the promised border control and the Dreamers were the result. The Jordan Commission (started by Bush-1) was to be the definitive map for the future and the Clinton Administration simply ignored it.
I believe that the so called "reactionaries" in this matter are the Democrats who prefer an identity politics issue for 2018 over a solution.

Vincent Gaglione
7 months ago

Hey Stuart,

On this issue, to my mind and apparently to the Bishops, the terms are simple a clear: a simple and clear DACA bill granting citizenship without all the other issues impinging upon passage. Those kids are just as “American” as your parent’s or grandparent’s children when they were raised here, no choice on their parts to have remained in the old country!

Then Trump can go ahead and deport the other 10 or 11 million as he intends to do, which I do think is more rhetoric than reality. The political and moral fallout will be fun to watch.

Vinny

Stuart Meisenzahl
7 months ago

Vince
Just "Google" the statistics available from the US Customs and Border Control concerning the illegal influx of unaccompanied minors and family units including minors from Latin America following the 2012 DACA declaration. You will find a massive increase in those numbers over preceding years and a collapse of those numbers immediately following Trump's election. Note the statistics are for Federal Fiscal years, (i.e. Ending September 30 each year). Trump's position on "the wall" and "deportation" were of course widely circulated through out Latin America..
The so called "simple clean solution" for the DACA conundrum is, like the Regan Amnesty, just a receipe for another wave of illegal immigration. We both know that the Democrats will not support any permanent fix /amelioration of this border problem without the leverage of their own broken promises to the Dreamers in 2009. The comparative border statistics BEFORE and AFTER Trump's election fully reflect and demonstrate what the effect of the so called "simple solution" will bring.
Again I emphasize that if this "simple solution" was such a moral and political imperative why didn't the Democrats enact it when they were in veto proof control of Congress and the Presidency? Why didn't Chuck Schumer Report out such a bill when he was Chairman of the Senate Committee on Border and Immigration. The Democrats come to this issue with a history of politicking and broken promises and the Bishops moral outrage is 8 years late.

Vincent Gaglione
7 months ago

Hi Stuart,

While much of what you say may be accurate, you ignore the point. Clear and simple DACA law, that's all.

The immigration issues started back before the Clinton administration, and he wanted to find an overall solution to the issue. In fact, some of the rhetoric back then was as crude as Trump’s is today. Why go back only 8 years to the start of the Obama administration? But I diverge.

Of course, the child migration to the USA has only relatively recently come to the awareness of most citizens. Some of those Central American nations to which we provided arms and aid and “military training” for many years – think of that great conservative icon, Reagan and Iran-Contra, for example - are still thug-ruled oligarchies in which the Church sometimes was complicit in the rip-off of the poor and where gangs still run rampant. I agree with you, where was the moral outrage back then from the Bishops? I know one USA priest castigated by the Church for his roles in standing up and decrying the sins of USA aid to these nations. The smartest parents knew full well that the lives and safety of their children were not at home. They just become fodder in the internal wars of their countries. So, their parents packed them off to the safety of the USA. I would have done likewise. I presume your grandparents/parents made similar choices for other reasons as mine did! Some of mine even slipped in...shhhush, don't tell anyone.

They slipped in. They lived, ate, drank, slept, studied, learned the USA life. They made no choice to be here but they are here. By any moral or ethical measure, they are ours. And as both the Old and New Testaments make clear, we are responsible to and for them. That’s why I want more outrage from the Bishops. No matter how you slice it, for those brought here as children – no matter how many of them there are – a path to citizenship must be created.

And as for your concerns about future arrivals similarly, then damn it, let the Congress do what it’s supposed to do, create a grand immigration and humane refugee policy that makes sense and is enforceable. Given for what passes as Republican legislators at this point, that may be fantasy. A quote from H. L. Mencken is appropriate here:

“The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest the most violently are those who try to tell the truth…..On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will get their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

The downright moron is apparently served by similar in the Congress as well.

Vinny

Stuart Meisenzahl
7 months ago

Vince
None of us can change the past but it is within our power to take care of the present AND THE FUTURE. The experiences of the past are however instructive on the methods and care we must take in our solution.. Your DACA solution is more than simple , it is simplistic in its willful attempt to ignore that preventing the repetition of the DACA problem must be part of the DACA solution!
As to your Mencken quote, I think you may have accidentally and unintentionally stumbled on an apropos truth ....Trump (( you labeled as "a moron" ) just may be Mencken's "that man people detest the most violently who is telling the truth"....concerning the immigration matter! (By the way I may be mistaken but I believe you have conjoined and conflated two entirely separate ideas and quotes from Mencken , the latter quote from 1920 inthe Batlimore Sun is not related to his quote about lying politicians in 1918 in The NY Times. It is true that both quotes were "put downs" on the intelligence of the "hoi polloi" voters of America for whom he had no respect )
My beef with the Bishops and your original exhortation that they mount the pulpit for a particular policy is not just that it is beyond their competency and mission to recommend particular legislation . It is that you exhort the creation of a two edged sword which the Church will live to regret in this pluralistic society. I think based on past comments that you would be not at all in favor of Bshops hitting the pulpit to condemn membership in unions which support abortion.

Finally you have simply brushed off the Jordan Immigration Report which if you read it not only offers legislative direction but it's analysis predicted in 1995 the very conundrum we now face.

Mike Theman
7 months ago

I'm not sure who pays attention to what the bishops say. Rather than participate in the already overcrowded political arena, these guys should be focusing on restoring their (and hence the Church's) credibility. Once that's done they can start acting as if anyone actually cares about what they're saying.

Colin Donovan
7 months ago

This seems a purely political piece. The common good exceeds the particular good. The common good of the U.S., and the Dreamers, as well, depends more on the rule of law than it does on the particular advantage that accrues to those who, though no fault of their own, find themselves here. Rather than work with the Congress, President Obama chose to implement a constitutionally questionable Executive Order. Trump rescinded it and made a generous offer to establish the process by law, something which the 70% support, along with border security etc... If it is not enacted it will be because the opposition puts more value in the particular good of a few, including their own political advantage, than the common good of all. How about, let's do both?! Or, we can all just demagogue the issue.

Iris Wagner
7 months ago

Amen

Vince Killoran
7 months ago

The Democrats couldn't organize a two-car funeral at this point so don't hold your breath.

"The common good of the U.S., and the Dreamers, as well, depends more on the rule of law than it does on the particular advantage that accrues to those who, though no fault of their own, find themselves here." Why is this the "common good"? There is a strong case--even limited to regional security and gang violence--to legalize the Dreamers. As for "rule of law" well, isn't this what Congress is for? Ask all the young undocumented Irish immigrants in Boston, NYC, and Chicago how they fared with the '86 immigration law.

Iris Wagner
7 months ago

Catholic Socialist Teaching

Dan Acosta
7 months ago

This has never been about "Dreamers" but about the USCCB's participation in social engineering and their goal of total, unqualified amnesty for undocumented immigrants. The bishops should remove the locks from the doors of their residences as a model of Christian welcome.

Michael Tamayo
6 months 1 week ago

I don't understand the anger against President TRUMP. DACA was killing our country because of the way it was designed, sucking money out of the country and ordinary Americans who are also "Dreamers". And it was only "temporary" as OBAMA said so. OBAMA was the one who made it complicated. Under TRUMP the new "DACA" deal would include more than twice that of the one made by OBAMA, and be permanent. TRUMP does not want to deport all of them, only the criminals. If you research, OBAMA has deported a huge amount of people, but the media (yes the media) does not tell you any of this. These are things we have to find out by watching TRUMP's actual speeches and seeing what the exact proposals are. The immigrants brought here deserve so much more than OBAMA offered, and TRUMP is giving it to them. Why then hasn't a bill been passed? Because the Democrats, who rely on the Hispanic Vote, would lose the Hispanic Vote if TRUMP was successful. They have not been truthful at all about TRUMP's intentions. Take it from a Hispanic American who used to be registered as a Democrat.
We need to be calling on the Democrat Politicians to pass the bill now to protect the DREAMERS and end this political rape of our nation and the minority races.

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