LOS ANGELES — Congress must separate "the conversation about DACA" from the "larger issues" about U.S. immigration policy, because allowing the program to expire will lead "to a humanitarian crisis," especially in Los Angeles, said Archbishop Jose H. Gomez.
"As a nation, we have a moral and humanitarian obligation to the 'Dreamers.' These young people have done nothing wrong. And their futures hang in the balance of these debates," he wrote in a column. "So, I hope you will join me in urging our leaders in Congress to help them in a spirit of generosity and justice."
Archbishop Gomez's column, dated Jan. 9, was posted on the websites of the Los Angeles Archdiocese and Angelus News, its multimedia platform.
"Once again, we begin a new year with uncertainty and fear over immigration, and this year our leaders in Congress face a hard deadline" to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, said Archbishop Gomez.
Within the borders of the Los Angeles Archdiocese, he said, there will be a humanitarian crisis if DACA ends because an estimated 125,000 young people protected by the program live there. DACA protects between 700,000 and 800,000 young people.
"The story of these young people ... is well-known. Brought to this country as children by undocumented parents or family members, they are not 'illegal' through any fault of their own," Archbishop Gomez wrote. "The 'Dreamers' have lived their whole lives in this country — many are now in their 30s.
"And during their lifetime, leaders in Washington have not been able to reach an agreement to fix the broken immigration system that allowed them to enter in the first place."
In September, President Donald Trump announced that in March, he would end DACA, which President Barack Obama created by executive order in 2012. At the same time, Trump called on Congress to come up with a legislative solution by then to keep the program in place.
Obama instituted the program to protect young people whose parents brought them into the country as minors when they entered the U.S. without legal permission. DACA has allowed them to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and get a work permit.
Advocates around the country have rallied to urge passage of the DREAM Act — the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act — to provide a pathway to citizenship for DACA beneficiaries.
On Jan. 9, Trump and a bipartisan group from Congress discussed a measure that would keep DACA intact and include Trump's demands for a border wall and other security measures.
The same day, a U.S. District Court judge in San Francisco temporarily blocked Trump's decision to rescind DACA, saying the U.S. government must start accepting renewal applications again from current beneficiaries of the program. The ruling, which is certain to be appealed, also said the government doesn't have to accept applications from people who aren't currently covered by DACA.
"Today, the 'Dreamers' are the 'poster children' for how broken our system is and how unhealthy and unproductive our political discourse has become," Archbishop Gomez wrote. "By any measure, these are the kind of young people that our country should be encouraging. Nearly everyone — 97 percent — is either in school or in the workforce. About 5 percent have already started their own business; 15 percent have bought their first homes. These are good kids and we should want to help them to develop their God-given potentials ... and to make their own contribution to the American dream."
The archbishop said U.S. business leaders feel DACA recipients "are vital to our economic future."
"In a letter to congressional leaders in September, more than 800 executives representing every sector of the economy agreed that DACA youths contribute more than $460 billion to our economy and another $24 billion in taxes," he said.
Since so many Americans agree on their contributions to the country, fixing the program that protects them "should be easy," he said, but instead "these young people find themselves stuck in the middle of a much broader debate about border walls, national security and the inner workings of our visa system.
"Systematic reform of our immigration policy is absolutely vital to our nation's future. And we need to have this conversation."
Federal judge temporarily blocks DACA end
By Catholic News Service
SAN FRANCISCO — A U.S. District Court judge in San Francisco Jan. 9 temporarily blocked the Trump administration's decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program by March.
In a 49-page ruling, Judge William Alsup of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California said his nationwide injunction is appropriate because "our country has a strong interest in the uniform application of immigration law and policy."
Alsup said the Trump administration must start accepting DACA renewal applications again, but he also said the federal government isn't required to accept applications from people who have never before applied to be covered by DACA.
Alsup's decision came in a lawsuit challenging the end of DACA that was filed against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security by the University of California and others.
In September, President Donald Trump announced that he would end DACA, which President Barack Obama created by executive order in 2012. At the same time, Trump called on Congress to come up with a legislative solution to keep the program in place.
Many are calling for passage of the proposed Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act, to do just that. Trump and a bipartisan group from Congress met Jan. 9 to discuss a measure to keep DACA and include Trump's demands for a border wall and other security measures.
In a statement issued early Jan. 10, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said: "An issue of this magnitude must go through the normal legislative process. President Trump is committed to the rule of law, and will work with members of both parties to reach a permanent solution that corrects the unconstitutional actions taken by the last administration."