Catholic leaders sharply criticize Trump's decision to end DACA

IMAGE: CNS photo/Kevin Lamarque, Reuters

By Kurt Jensen

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Catholic church leaders,
immigration officials and university presidents were swift and unanimous in
their condemnation of President Donald Trump’s Sept. 5 decision to phase
out Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals known as DACA.

the past, the president stated that the Dreamer story ‘is about the heart,’ yet
(the) decision is nothing short of heartless,” said Chicago Cardinal Blase
J. Cupich. “The Dreamers are now left in a six-month limbo, during which
Congress is supposed to pass comprehensive immigration reform, a feat they have
been unable to achieve for a decade,” he said in a Sept. 5 statement.

rescission of DACA, announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, places an
estimated 800,000 undocumented immigrants, many of whom were brought to the
United States as young children and have known no other home, under threat of
deportation and losing permits that allow them to work. From August through
December, according to the Department of Homeland Security, the work permits of
more than 200,000 DACA recipients will expire and only 55,258 have submitted
requests for permit renewals.

decision to end DACA is “a heartbreaking disappointment,” said Jeanne
Atkinson, executive director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network. She
also said her organization rejects and adamantly disagrees with Sessions’ “untested
personal opinion that DACA is unconstitutional.”

have never been a people who punish children for the mistakes of their parents.
I am hopeful that we will not begin now,” said Los Angeles Archbishop Jose
H. Gomez, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on
Migration. “I do not believe this decision represents the best of our
national spirit or the consensus of the American people. This decision reflects
only the polarization of our political moment.”

Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the USCCB, said in a statement
with other USCCB leaders: “The Catholic Church has long watched with pride
and admiration as DACA youth live out their daily lives with hope and a
determination to flourish and contribute to society: continuing to work and
provide for their families, continuing to serve in the military, and continuing
to receive an education. Now, after months of anxiety and fear about their
futures, these brave young people face deportation. This decision is
unacceptable and does not reflect who we are as Americans.”

Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, called the decision “malicious.”

can’t hide behind the term ‘legality’ in rescinding DACA,” his statement
added. “That is an abandonment of humanity, and abandonment of talented
and hopeful young people who are as American as you and I.”

Sister Aine O’Connor, who stood in front of the White House as the decision was
announced, also took issue with Sessions’ remark: “Nothing is
compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration laws.”

do not see it as a compassionate act. It is a merciless act,” Sister O’Connor
told Catholic News Service, adding that it was “an abdication of
responsibility by the Trump administration.”

plans for her group include lobbying members of Congress to show “the root
cause of immigration, which includes American policies that destroy economic
stability in other countries.”

Washington-based Franciscan Action Network’s statement compared Trump to
Pontius Pilate: “Like Pilate, President Trump has tried to wash his hands
of responsibility when he could have and should have kept DACA in place. God
commands his people to care for immigrants and treat them ‘no differently than
the natives born among you.'” (Lv 19:34)

Ohio-based Ignatian Solidarity Network accused Trump of undermining “the
dignity of undocumented individuals,” adding, “As people of faith, we
are called to uphold the inherent dignity of our immigrant brothers and
sisters, to stand with those marginalized by a broken immigration system, and
to recognize the gifts and talents that these young people bring to our

University President John J. DeGioia, in a statement on his Facebook page, said
he wanted to emphasize Georgetown’s “strongest support for all of our undocumented
students. As a nation, we have the capacity and responsibility to work together
to provide a permanent legislative solution to ensure the safety and well-being
of these young women and men who have — and will — contribute to the future
of our country in deeply meaningful ways.”

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