Faith

Bishops Rally Faithful to Lobby Lawmakers to Pass DACA Fix

Members of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops pray during the USCCB's annual fall meeting in Baltimore on Nov. 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has called on the faithful to deluge lawmakers with calls on saving DREAMers when Congress returns from the Presidents Day break.

USCCB president Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston,USCCB vice president Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, and USCCB Committee on Migration Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin issued a joint statement noting that they were “deeply disappointed” that the Senate did not move forward on any proposals to fix the Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals Program canceled by President Trump in September with a March 5 deadline for lawmakers to take action.

With that deadline looming, the bishops asked 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.”

Some 800,000 immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children and registered in DACA could face deportation if Congress doesn’t arrive at a solution by the deadline. The White House wants add-ons that have stalled legislation, including ending family reunification except for spouses and minor children and ending the diversity visa lottery.

“We are also announcing a National Catholic Call-In Day to Protect Dreamers,” the bishops said. “This coming weekend, we will be asking the faithful across the nation to call their members of Congress next Monday, February 26, 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.”

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

In September, the bishops said Trump’s DACA cancellation was “unacceptable and does not reflect who we are as Americans.”

“The Church has recognized and proclaimed the need to welcome young people: ‘Whoever welcomes one of these children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me’ (Mark 9:37). Today, our nation has done the opposite of how Scripture calls us to respond. It is a step back from the progress that we need to make as a country. Today’s actions represent a heartbreaking moment in our history that shows the absence of mercy and good will, and a short-sighted vision for the future. DACA youth are woven into the fabric of our country and of our Church, and are, by every social and human measure, American youth,” the USCCB said back then.

The bishops “strongly” urged Congress “to act and immediately resume work toward a legislative solution,” adding that “we pledge our support to work on finding an expeditious means of protection for DACA youth.”

“As people of faith, we say to DACA youth – regardless of your immigration status, you are children of God and welcome in the Catholic Church,” the September statement concluded. “The Catholic Church supports you and will advocate for you.”