U.S. bishops call for permanent protection for young migrants

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The chair of the migration committee of
the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops urged the Trump administration to
“ensure permanent protection” for youth who were brought to the U.S.
as minors without legal documentation.

Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, chair of the Committee on Migration
Committee, reiterated the bishops’ support for the Deferred Action for
Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, a 2012 policy under then-President Barack Obama that,
while not providing legal status, gives recipients a temporary reprieve from
deportation and employment authorization in the United States as long as they
meet certain criteria.

During his campaign for president, Donald Trump said he
would get rid of the program but later backtracked and it’s unclear what will happen
to the estimated 750,000 youth who signed up for the program.

“DACA youth are contributors to our economy, veterans
of our military, academic standouts in our universities, and leaders in our
parishes,” said Bishop Vasquez in a July 18 statement. “These young people
entered the U.S. as children and know America as their only home. The dignity
of every human being, particularly that of our children and youth, must be

He urged the administration “to continue administering the
DACA program and to publicly ensure that DACA youth are not priorities for

The bishops join other Catholic institutions worried about
the group and urging protection. In May, more than 65 college presidents
representing U.S. Catholic institutions asked for a meeting with the Secretary
of Homeland Security to talk about immigration policy, particularly DACA,
saying they worried about the future of their students. They cited incidents in
which DACA recipients have been placed under immigration detention, including a
case in which one of them was deported.

“Many of these students will leave our campuses for
internships, summer programs and jobs. Our prayer is that they return,” their
letter said, but so far there have been no announcements of what the
administration will or won’t do regarding the program.

In his statement, Bishop Vasquez said that since DACA is not
a permanent solution, “I also call on Congress to work in an expeditious and
bipartisan manner to find a legislative solution for DACA youth as soon as

The country’s Catholic bishops will continue efforts to find
a humane and permanent resolution “that protects DACA youth,” Bishop Vasquez

“Additionally, I note the moral urgency for comprehensive
immigration reform that is just and compassionate. The bishops will advocate
for these reforms as we truly believe they will advance the common good,” he

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Follow Guidos on Twitter: @CNS_Rhina.

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