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7/21: U.S. bishops call for permanent protection for young migrants
Released 20 August 2017  By Rhina Guidos - Catholic News Service

U.S. bishops call for permanent protection for young migrants

Rhina Guidos - Catholic News Service
July 21, 2017

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The chair of the migration committee of the U.S.
Conference of Catholic Bishops urged the Trump administration to "ensure
permanent protection" for youth who were brought to the U.S. as minors
without legal documentation.

Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, chair of the Committee on
Migration Committee, reiterated the bishops' support for the Deferred
Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, a 2012 policy under
then-President Barack Obama that, while not providing legal status,
gives recipients a temporary reprieve from deportation and employment
authorization in the United States as long as they meet certain
criteria.

During his campaign for president, Donald Trump said he would get rid of
the program but later backtracked and it's unclear what will happen to
the estimated 750,000 youth who signed up for the program.

"DACA youth are contributors to our economy, veterans of our military,
academic standouts in our universities, and leaders in our parishes,"
said Bishop Vasquez in a July 18 statement. "These young people entered
the U.S. as children and know America as their only home. The dignity of
every human being, particularly that of our children and youth, must be
protected."

He urged the administration "to continue administering the DACA program
and to publicly ensure that DACA youth are not priorities for
deportation."

The bishops join other Catholic institutions worried about the group and
urging protection.

In May, more than 65 college presidents representing U.S. Catholic
institutions asked for a meeting with the Secretary of Homeland Security
to talk about immigration policy, particularly DACA, saying they worried
about the future of their students. They cited incidents in which DACA
recipients have been placed under immigration detention, including a
case in which one of them was deported.

"Many of these students will leave our campuses for internships, summer
programs and jobs. Our prayer is that they return," their letter said,
but so far there have been no announcements of what the administration
will or won't do regarding the program.

In his statement, Bishop Vasquez said that since DACA is not a permanent
solution,"I also call on Congress to work in an expeditious and
bipartisan manner to find a legislative solution for DACA youth as soon
as possible."

Some members of Congress had been working on a bipartisan bill to
provide relief for "Dreamers," as the DACA recipients are known, but the
McClatchy news agency reported July 19 that White House officials said
the president would not support the legislative action.

The administration already is facing pressure from some groups for not
rescinding DACA, as it had promised.

In late June, officials from nine states joined Texas Attorney General
Ken Paxton in urging the Trump administration to end DACA, threatening
the government with a lawsuit on Sept. 5 if the program continues.

Trump has said at least on a couple of occasions that the decision is
more difficult than he first imagined and recently said he's still
weighing what to do about it.

The country's Catholic bishops will continue efforts to find a humane
and permanent resolution "that protects DACA youth," Bishop Vasquez
wrote. "Additionally, I note the moral urgency for comprehensive
immigration reform that is just and compassionate. The bishops will
advocate for these reforms as we truly believe they will advance the
common good," he said.


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