The Sisters of Charity Health System joins the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) president, vice president and committee chairmen in denouncing the administration's decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and strongly urges Congress to find a legislative solution.
Approximately 800,000 youth have received protection from the DACA program since its inception by the Department of Homeland Security in 2012. This week, the President rescinded the 2012 DACA program. This decision places DACA youth at risk of deportation from the United States—the only country many have ever really known. While DACA provides no legal status, it does provide recipients with a temporary reprieve from deportation and employment authorization for legal work opportunities in the United States. As Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Chair of the USCCB Migration Committee and Bishop of Austin, Texas noted: "DACA youth are contributors to our economy, veterans of our military, academic standouts in our universities, and leaders in our parishes." He continues, "At the heart of Catholic Social Teaching is the moral obligation to protect the life and dignity of every human being, particularly the most vulnerable, which includes our youth. These young people were brought to the United States by their parents whose desire was to provide their children with hope, opportunity, and safety that they could never hope to find in their countries of birth."
We recognize and proclaim the need to welcome young people: 'Whoever welcomes one of these children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me' (Mark 9:37). Our nation has done the opposite of how Scripture calls us to respond. It is a step back from the progress that we need to make as a country. DACA youth are woven into the fabric of our country and of our Church, and are, by every social and human measure, American youth.
The U.S. Catholic Bishops have long supported DACA youth and continue to do so including a bill recently introduced in the Senate called the S. 1615 Dream Act of 2017. It is important that Congress pass legislation that protects young people who are vital part of our community.