Update: As DACA deadline nears, Catholics urge fix for immigration woes

IMAGE: CNS photo/Shannon Stapleton, Reuters


September, as President Donald Trump pulled the plug on the Deferred Action for
Childhood Arrivals program, he also gave Congress a March 5 deadline to find a
permanent legislative solution that would help some 800,000 young adults living
the U.S. who were brought into the country without legal permission as

As the deadline
approaches, with no legislative solution in sight for DACA, the U.S. Catholic
bishops and other Catholic leaders as well as Catholic organizations from
around the U.S. have been loudly clamoring for relief for the young adults.

So far, lawmakers have
failed to deliver any solution even as the deadline approaches and the
president’s repeal of DACA gets tangled up the courts. Some beneficiaries already
face deportation and the loss of permits that allow them to work, drive and
attend school.

On Feb. 23, officials of the
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops again urged all U.S. Catholics to participate
a “National Catholic Call-In Day to Protect Dreamers” they have
declared for Feb. 26. Participants can call lawmakers by calling (855) 589-5698
and visiting https://tinyurl.com/ycjrrxoa for resources in English and Spanish.
The phone number is for the Capitol switchboard’ callers press “1” to connect
to senators and “2” to connect to representatives.

“With the March 5th
deadline looming, 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,” said a joint statement from Cardinal
Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB president; Archbishop Jose H.
Gomez of Los Angeles, USCCB vice president; and Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of
Austin, Texas, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration.

They are asking Catholics
to contact their members of Congress to urge them to: “Protect ‘Dreamers’ from
deportation; to provide them a path to citizenship; and to avoid any damage to
existing protections for families and unaccompanied minors in the process.”

Many U.S. bishops have
been making personal pleas, peppering various social media channels, posting
videos on Facebook and YouTube, and tweets urging Catholics to push lawmakers
for action.

In the Archdiocese of Los
Angeles, a Mass dedicated to Dreamers will be celebrated at Our Lady Queen of
Angels Church in Los Angeles Feb. 25. It will include testimonials from
Dreamers, as DACA recipients are known.

San Francisco Archbishop
Salvatore J. Cordileone made two videos, in English and Spanish, urging
participation in the Feb. 26 call-in day. The archbishop’s videos can be viewed
at https://www.facebook.com/SFHLD or at sfarchdiocese.org/immigration.

In his video message, Archbishop
Cordileone said Catholics need to call members of Congress to demand “a
legislative fix for DACA, so our brothers and sisters, young people who are
here without proper documentation, can get on a track for citizenship and
continue contributing to our country, to ask as well for reform of immigration
policy that will favor keeping families together. Families are the basic unit
of society and society stands and falls on family unity.”

In the Archdiocese of
Santa Fe, New Mexico, Archbishop John C. Wester issued his second action alert
in a week asking Catholics in the state to participate in the national call-in

“As Catholics, we believe
the dignity of every human being, particularly that of our immigrant and
refugee children and youth, must be protected,” he said in a late Feb. 22
statement. “The sanctity of families must be upheld. The Catholic bishops have
long supported undocumented youth brought to the United States by their
parents, known as Dreamers, and continue to do so.

“We ask you to engage with
your elected officials to voice your support for these young people and call on
your members of Congress to find a bipartisan legislative solution to protect
Dreamers immediately,” added the archbishop, who also pointed Catholics to https://tinyurl.com/y8jznv2z to view a video of Bishop Vasquez discussing the issue.

To help tell the story of
DACA recipients, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe also calling attention to a music
video by the local band Reviva that depicts agents with the U.S. Immigration
and Customs Enforcement picking up three workers, including a teacher and a
construction worker. Its message reflects that reality some in the country are

Workers are handcuffed
and taken into custody in the “Take Me Away” video, as a little girl
arrives home from school to find her parents gone. The songwriter graduated
from St. Pius X High School, a Catholic school in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and
the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. The video can be seen at

The Ohio-based
Association of U.S. Catholic Priests urged its members to fast and pray, but
also to call their lawmakers in Washington asking that Congress pass permanent
relief for the young adults affected. The group also asked priests to encourage
their parishioners to take part in personal and public actions on behalf of DACA.

In a Feb. 21 newsletter,
the association asked its members via email to “fast on Fridays in union
with Father Gary Graf, the Chicago priest who has been fasting in support of
Dreamers every day,” and to support Father Ray Pineda, an ordained priest
in Atlanta, who has benefited from DACA and also is facing an uncertain future
in the country.

Father Graf has announced
he will march in front of the White House for 40 hours straight, from 9 a.m.
(local time) March 4 through 5 p.m. March 5. The priest said it will be his
final attempt to encourage Trump to extend DACA. As he marches he will hold placards
illustrating the number of Dreamers who are losing their status per day, 916,
and per week, 6,412. By the end of March, he said, 25, 648 will have lost DACA

Hundreds of Catholic
leaders have declared Feb. 27 a “Catholic Day of Action” in Washington and
planned to pray and sing inside the Russell Senate Office Building.

A news release that the
group of leaders includes women religious, who will call on House Speaker Paul
Ryan of Wisconsin, a Catholic, to remember Catholic social teaching about the
obligation to protect immigrants, and lead House Members in passing a clean DREAM

The measure — the
Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act — has long been
proposed. The bill is what gives DACA recipients the “Dreamer” name.

The USCCB also has created a series of
videos available on its YouTube
and Facebook.com/USCCB.

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