On September 5, 2017, President Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the dreams of nearly a million young people covered by the executive order and applying for inclusion. In the past the president stated that the Dreamer story “is about the heart,” yet today’s decision is nothing short of heartless. 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. In fact, this inability to agree on a just immigration system led President Obama to sign the executive order protecting minor children brought to this country by their parents.
As the considerations of the “heart” seemed to be insufficient to keep protection in place, Congress must now act decisively and swiftly. An immediate first step is for our leaders to pass legislation that will protect those previously covered by the DACA program, while they deal with the long-overdue comprehensive reform of our immigration system. They must be guided by compassion and respect for human dignity, and honestly consider the substantial evidence that deporting these young Americans would do great economic harm to the states where they reside.
With the bishops in this country, we remain committed to upholding the dignity of all persons and the fundamental right of all to live free from fear in the nation founded on that promise.