BY ISN STAFF | July 19, 2017
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Chair of the Migration Committee and Bishop of Austin, Texas, has issued a response to recent petitions by various state attorney generals and governors which asked the U.S. Department of Justice to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which currently provides a temporary status to over 750,000 young people throughout brought to the U.S. without documentation as children.
The following is Bishop Vásquez’s statement:
The Catholic Bishops have long supported DACA youth and continue to do so. DACA youth are contributors to our economy, veterans of our military, academic standouts in our universities, and leaders in our parishes. 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.
I urge the Administration to continue administering the DACA program and to publicly ensure that DACA youth are not priorities for deportation.However, DACA is not a permanent solution; for this reason, 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. My brother bishops and I pledge continuing efforts to help find a humane and permanent resolution that protects DACA youth. 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.Lastly, to DACA youth and their families, please know that the Catholic Church stands in solidarity with you. We recognize your intrinsic value as children of God. We understand the anxiety and fear you face and we appreciate and applaud the daily contributions you make with your families, to local communities and parishes, and to our country. We support you on your journey to reach your God-given potential.
Support for DACA recipients and other students without documentation has come from many corners of the Catholic Church, in particular leaders in Catholic higher education. Earlier this year 65 Catholic college and university presidents asked for a meeting with the Secretary of Homeland Security Kelly to discuss immigration policy and the situation of DACA recipients. Within the Jesuit network, colleges and universities have made institutional-wide commitments to stand with undocumented students in recent years, including Saint Peter’s University’s establishment of a Center for Undocumented Students; Loyola University Chicago’s Medical School’s public willingness to accept undocumented medical students; and the development of campus resource and support programs for students at Jesuit schools across the country.
Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published as part of the Ignatian Solidarity Network News From the Network series.