By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
All U.S. dioceses are being asked to participate in a national Catholic “Call-in Day to Congress” on Feb. 26 to express support for “Dreamers,” 1.8 million undocumented persons brought to the U.S. by their parents as children. Dreamers have established roots in the U.S.; it is home for them.
The call-in initiative escalates the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ efforts to find a legislative solution for Dreamers before a March 5 deadline that ends protection from deportation for the 800,000 Dreamers granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status. DACA recipients may face deportation as soon as March 6 unless Congress reaches a bi-partisan deal to protect them and the Dreamers who already face deportation.
Bishop Thomas Zinkula endorsed the call-in campaign for Dreamers. “I join my brother bishops across the county in asking that the people of the Diocese of Davenport call their congressional representatives on Monday, Feb. 26. The DACA recipients, those also known as Dreamers, now live in fear of deportation. They are members of our communities and our parish families. Please contact our senators and representatives to urge them to give Dreamers protection and a path to citizenship.”
Negotiations have stalled in Congress on a bill to protect Dreamers. Pending litigation has blocked the rescission of DACA, but the U.S. Supreme Court is likely to overturn that temporary order, according to the USCCB.
In a Feb. 12 letter, Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin, Texas, urged the U.S. Senate to consider the following principles pertaining to a legislative solution to address Dreamers.
• Provide protection to the Dreamer population — “We agree with the proposal made by President Trump that protection should be given to the larger 1.8 million Dreamer population … as there are many young people who were brought here as children but were prevented from obtaining DACA due to the program’s age cut-offs. We believe that this larger Dreamer population should be included in any legislative solution that the Senate takes up….”
• Provide a path to citizenship — “We agree with the proposal made by President Trump to afford relief to Dreamers that permits them to apply for U.S. citizenship. Most of these young people know the United States as their only home and should not be denied the opportunity to obtain U.S. citizenship and fully participate and integrate into American civic life….”
• Promote family unity and maintain the family-immigration system — “Family immigration is the foundation of our country and of our Church…. Upholding and protecting the family unit, regardless of its national origins or its size, is vital to our faith and to our country. We are deeply disturbed by proposals that provide relief for Dreamers at the expense of dismantling our country’s rich tradition of family reunification and sponsorship of close family members and ending the diversity visa program….”
• Protect the vulnerable who seek refuge — “A solution for Dreamers should not come at the expense of other vulnerable immigrants and refugees. It is vital to maintain existing protections for refugees, unaccompanied children, trafficking victims, and asylum seekers that help prevent abuse, ensure access to adequate care, and promote due process….”
• Ensure that all border security measures are humane and proportionate – The Catholic Church has long recognized the right of nations to secure their borders and control entry into their countries. At the same time, we believe that border security and interior immigration enforcement practices should be humane and proportionate; they should make the country safer, and they should not sacrifice the due process rights and human dignity of persons seeking protection.”
How to participate:
Call 855-589-5698 to reach the Capitol switchboard, and press 1 to connect to your U.S. senators. When you are connected to each senator’s office, please ask the person on the phone to deliver this message:
“I urge you to support a bipartisan, common-sense, and humane solution for Dreamers:
• Protect Dreamers from deportation and provide them a path to citizenship.
• Reject proposals that undermine family immigration or protections for unaccompanied children.
• As a Catholic, I know that families are not “chains,” but a blessing to be protected.
• Act now to protect Dreamers, our immigrant brothers and sisters.
Call 855-589-5698 a second time to reach the Capitol switchboard; press 2 to connect to your U.S. representative and repeat the message above.
Visit www.justiceforimmigrants.org to learn more about Dreamers and other ways to voice support.