Reaction was largely laudatory to the Supreme Court’s June 18 rejection of a Trump administration bid to revoke Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals, an Obama-era executive order that allowed young people brought into the country illegally as minors by their parents to stay in the United States.
Under DACA, about 700,000 young people who qualify for the programme have been protected from deportation and have been able to work, go to college, get health insurance and obtain a driver’s license. In the meantime, Congress has considered measures to provide these ‘Dreamers’ a pathway to US citizenship, such as the proposed Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act.
“We welcome the US Supreme Court’s decision noting that the Trump administration did not follow proper administrative procedures required to repeal the DACA programme,” said a June 18 statement from Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Washington auxiliary bishop Dr Mario Dorsonville, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration.
They told DACA recipients: “Through today’s decision and beyond, we will continue to accompany you and your families. You are a vital part of our Church and our community of faith. We are with you.” They also urged President Donald Trump to keep DACA intact.
“Immigrant communities are really hurting now amidst Covid-19 and moving forward with this action needlessly places many families into further anxiety and chaos,” they said. “In times of uncertainty, let us remember the teachings of the Gospel which encourage us to be open and receptive to those in need,” quoting from I John: “If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him?”
“In this moment,” the prelates added, “we must show compassion and mercy for the vulnerable.”
“Just as the Church has stood by immigrants and refugees throughout our nation’s history, we will walk alongside our brothers and sisters who have DACA during the legal steps ahead,” said a statement from Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, California, board chair of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network. “This ruling gives a reprieve to DACA holders, but Congress should quickly pass legislation granting these Americans a pathway to permanent residency and citizenship.”
“While we are grateful that today’s Supreme Court decision stops the administration from terminating DACA, this movement is far from over,” said CLINIC Executive Director Anna Gallagher, also in a June 18 statement. “Congress must act now to reflect the will of the people in this democracy and to make official what is true – DACA recipients are Americans and this is their home.”
“Our prayers have been answered!” exclaimed Sr Simone Campbell, a Sister of Social Service, who heads the Catholic social justice lobby Network.
“The Supreme Court’s decision to reject President Trump’s arbitrary and capricious plan to strip protections from DACA recipients was the only just outcome,” Sr Campbell added in a statement. “But they are not yet guaranteed permanent protections. For ‘Dreamers’ to be safe, Congress must affirm that their home is here.”
“The Catholic higher education community stands committed to the individuals in the DACA program who are enrolled at our colleges and universities,” the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities said, calling the Trump move to end DACA “a moral and a political failure.”
“We pray that today’s decision means they will be able to continue their studies without interruption and that, one day soon, others in their situation will be encouraged to pursue their education goals,” the ACCU said. “Today’s decision is likely not the final word on the DACA programme. We call upon our nation’s leaders – and especially Congress – to permanently protect the dreams of all students who seek to realize the promise of our country.”
Said Lawrence Couch, director of the National Advocacy Centre of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd: “We feel the weight lifted from the shoulders of those young people who have been living in a sort of purgatory and we press Congress for a permanent resolution keeping Dreamers in the United States.”
“These young people have had their lives thrown into turmoil because of hatred and fear. How cruel it would have been to force them out of the only land they have known,” said Sr Maureen McGowan, province leader for the Sisters of the Good Shepherd’s New York/Toronto province. “I pray that they now find peace and welcome.”
“Young people bring such zest to life and work so hard to improve their communities…We need dreams and today the Supreme Court gave the Dreamers their dreams back,” Sr Francesca Aguillon, the Good Shepherd Sisters’ province leader for the Central South province, said in a separate statement, also issued June 18. Good Shepherd Sr Madeleine Munday, province leader for her order’s Mid-North America province, noted that amid the coronavirus pandemic the world is enduring, the court decision shows “some bad dreams are coming to an end.”
“We all hope that these young people and their families know how much they are appreciated and welcomed by the vast majority of people living in this country,” she added. “More now than ever, we hope that everyone sees one another as a member of the human family.”
Catholic Extension – which gives aid to the nation’s mission dioceses, which are rural and poor dioceses and those have a small population of Catholics – also weighed in: “In the last several weeks, our nation has come into a greater awareness of our unjust systems that exclude, harm or hinder the God-given potential of some of our people. Among those facing systemic exclusion are our DACA brothers and sisters.”
“The Catholic Church has long affirmed that their lives matter, and that this young generation must no longer be systemically marginalised,” the statement added. “Catholic Extension is proud to invest in them and their future through our various leadership and ministry programs throughout the country.”