Ivonne Ramirez will continue overseeing catechists at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Ferguson. She will continue working, paying taxes, volunteering and supporting the community. And she’ll continue working as a quality control specialist for a medical supply company.
That’s because of a U.S. Supreme Court decision June 18 that prohibits the ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which has allowed about 700,000 young people known as Dreamers who arrived in the United States as children without documents to remain in the United States.
“I can finally breathe,” Ramirez said, adding that the decision puts her and others one step closer to citizenship.
Archbishop Robert J. Carlson commended the decision in a statement, pointing out that it enables young people who have grown up and established lives in the United States to continue to contribute to society.
“I hope that this may serve as an important step toward offering a permanent solution for Dreamers and affirming the human dignity of these brothers and sisters in Christ,” he said.
The archbishop said he, the archdiocese and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops continue to call on Congress to pass legislation that offers a pathway to citizenship, “and we call for the Trump Administration to end its pursuit of terminating the DACA program, which would not only abandon our neighbors who contribute much to our communities, but move us backward as a society at a moment when we are working toward greater social justice, peace, economic stability and healing as a country.”
Now age 26, Ramirez was brought to the United States when she was around 8 years old. “We’ve been here since we were kids,” Ramirez said of the Dreamers. “It wasn’t our decision.”
She said she has strong ties to her community, tries to better herself, is constantly learning and is family-oriented. The only difference between her and other American young adults “is that piece of paper,” she said regarding her documentation.
“This is my home. I don’t remember much from way back” when she lived in Mexico.
Sister Cathy Doherty, SSND, pastoral associate at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, called the Supreme Court decision “fantastic.” The young people have been “living on the edge,” while awaiting the decision, not knowing if they’d have to return to an unfamiliar country, she said. “This gives them hope again. It’s a good day and a great decision.”
Sister Cathy said that the matter affects people’s lives and is “truly a pro-life issue.”
Meredith Rataj, immigrant services site director at St. Francis Community Services, said that when she heard the decision “I literally fell on the floor. I was sobbing. I still cry now because I know how it impacts the families in our community.”
St. Francis Community Services is a Catholic Charities agency providing social services primarily to an immigrant population.
St. Louis is home for the Dreamers she has met for almost their entire life. “We have so many clients who do not remember not living in the United States.”