With Donald Trump’s announcement that he was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order instituted by President Obama, there has been much confusion about the place of people who fell under the program hold in our society.
Some 800,000 people who were brought into the U.S. as children are now worried about their future in their country. With this newly looming threat of deportations now in place, now more than ever, we must stand in solidarity with those DACA recipients whose entire lives have so suddenly been turned upside down.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) immediately issued a strong rebuke of Trump’s decision. In response, UD has rightly chosen to support the statement of the bishops.
The USCCB’s statement, which called Trump’s decision “reprehensible,” also notes that “this decision is unacceptable and does not reflect who we are as Americans.” The message vocalizes a strong solidarity with those affected, and urges Congress to create and pass legislation that would protect DACA recipients in the United States.
The statement comes straight from Catholic social teaching, which emphasizes both the right of people to migrate to support their families as well as the rights of countries to have borders to limit those who enter.
In light of Trump’s recent actions, important consideration must be placed on fully understanding Catholic social teaching regarding immigration: that countries must be just in the ways that they protect their borders. This means that families should not be separated, children should not be sent away and those who are here should be treated with respect. It also means that immigrants should have a path to citizenship that is attainable. From the USCCB’s website:
“Finally, immigration policy that allows people to live here and contribute to society for years but refuses to offer them the opportunity to achieve legal status does not serve the common good. The presence of millions of people living without easy access to basic human rights and necessities is a great injustice.”
DACA was a nearly perfect solution to the problem Catholicism calls us to answer. It allowed those who have been living in the country since they were children to get an education and improve their place in the work force, and gave undocumented people, not quite citizenship, but a sense of dignity and a foundation upon which they could succeed.
Given the White House’s decision to remove DACA, it now falls on legislators to create new protections for these people. But it is also now time to look beyond DACA, to full immigration reform.
The average time that it takes for immigrants to legally enter this country is about 20 years. For the most vulnerable, who are simply trying to provide for themselves and their families, the wait is too long.
According to the USCCB:
“Current immigration policy that criminalizes the mere attempt to immigrate and imprisons immigrants who have committed no crime or who have already served a just sentence for a crime is immoral. In the Bible, God promises that our judgment will be based on our treatment of the most vulnerable. Before God we cannot excuse inhumane treatment of certain persons by claiming that their lack of legal status deprives them of rights given by the Creator.”
With the repeal of DACA, it is imperative for UD students to stand in solidarity with all those affected in the undocumented community who have come here for a better life, and who contribute to the United States just as much as our native-born population.