WHY YOU ARE BEING ASKED TO WRITE A LETTER
The U.S. Catholic Church is deeply concerned by the many years of failure by Congress, whether controlled by Democrats or by Republicans, to address the plight of immigrants who were brought to the United States when they were young and who have no pathway to regularize their status. Started in 2012, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which the Trump Administration has announced will end by March 2018, has protected hundreds of thousands of young people from deportation. In our Archdiocese, many DACA youth worship in our parishes, attend our schools, and contribute to our communities. We urge Congress to provide a path to permanent residency for these young immigrants by passing the DREAM Act or similar legislation.
WHAT IS THE DREAM ACT?
DREAM stands for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors. The DREAM Act would “cancel removal [deportation]and grant lawful permanent resident status on a conditional basis to an alien who is inadmissible or deportable or is in temporary protected status who: (1) has been continuously physically present in the United States for four years preceding this bill's enactment; (2) was younger than 18 years of age on the initial date of U.S. entry; (3) is not inadmissible on criminal, security, terrorism, or other grounds; (4) has not participated in persecution; (5) has not been convicted of specified federal or state offenses; and (6) has fulfilled specified educational requirements.” The DREAM Act is only for those who have been granted “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status.”
WHY IS THE CATHOLIC CHURCH INVOLVED?
Pope Francis has said, “An authentic faith – which is never comfortable or completely personal – always involves a deep desire to change the world, to transmit values, to leave this earth somehow better that we found it … If indeed ‘the just ordering of society and of the state is a central responsibility of politics,’ the Church ‘cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice’” (Evangelii Guadium, no. 183). We can put our faith in action and care for refugees in our midst by contributing to the work of organizations like Catholic Relief Services, by volunteering to support local agencies that assist refugees in our own communities, and by using our power through our democracy, where our voice matters. We can ask our government to do all in its power to help organizations meet the immediate needs of refugees and to end the violence that forces people to flee.
HOW CAN I HELP?
You are being asked to write three letters: one for each of your senators and one for your representative. We’re asking Congress to do more to help refugees by funding poverty-focused international assistance, which can increase the capacity of agencies to assist and resettle refugees. Our message to Congress also emphasizes the need to end to the violence, and to encourage efforts to build inclusive societies in Syria and Iraq that will protect the rights of all citizens. It makes a difference when we lift up our voices together, but it’s also important that you personalize your message to your members of Congress.
Please take a few moments to edit the letter by adding your name, a few lines about why this issue is important to you, and your signature and home mailing address. Please also fill in the blanks about this event, noting the name of our institution, your role here (e.g., student, parishioner, etc.). After you sign the letter, place it in the basket.
ONE PERSON’S STORY
Ruth takes pleasure in doing simple things other parents may take for granted. One of the most notable is she can drive her kids to soccer practices, school and community service events without worrying about being stopped by law enforcement. But the joy and freedom Ruth experiences from taking her children to their activities may be in jeopardy.
Ruth came to the United States at age nine. Since she arrived, she always lived in fear of being separated from her family due to her legal status in this country. She was young when she made the U.S. her home and didn’t understand all the legal challenges she would later face.
Ruth says she was always forced to live in the shadows, not being able to fully socialize with other kids. She knew from a young age she could not do or enjoy the same activities they did, including simple things like going on road trips with her family.
As an adult, Ruth’s situation got even worse. She was not able to continue with her dream of going to college and becoming a prominent lawyer or working for law enforcement. In fact, she could not even obtain a simple job or drive, much less take trips with her kids or go to an emergency room without being asked for identification.
When former President Obama introduced DACA, Ruth says her life completely changed. DACA is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Over 780,000 youth have received protection from the DACA program since its inception by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2012. DACA provides no legal status or government benefits, but does provide recipients with temporary employment authorization to work in the United States and receive a reprieve from deportation.
Because of DACA, Ruth was finally able to come out of the shadows and obtain her dream job. She works at a school and is proud to serve her community.
With DACA, she could obtain a driver’s license, buy a house, and take her oldest son on a road trip to visit colleges. Most recently, she could help him achieve his dream of being accepted to a four-year university. Ruth has gone back to school to further her education, and soon she will obtain a bachelor’s degree in accounting.
Ruth says she would not have been able to reach most of the achievements she has now if it wasn’t for DACA. Her dreams continue. She hopes to finish her bachelor’s degree and help her daughter go to college by supporting her financially and emotionally.