WASHINGTON—Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Sept. 5 that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is “being rescinded” by President Donald Trump, leaving some 800,000 youth, brought illegally to the U.S. as minors, in peril of deportation and of losing permits that allow them to work.
Although the Department of Homeland Security will immediately stop accepting applications to the DACA program, current recipients would not be affected until March 5, which Sessions said will “create a time period for Congress to act — should it choose.”
Over 780,000 youth received protection from the DACA program since its inception by the Department of Homeland Security in 2012. DACA does not provide legal status for youth who were brought to the country without legal permission as children, but it gives recipients a temporary reprieve from deportation and employment authorization in the United States — as long as the applicants meet certain criteria.
In the days leading up to the decision, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, along with other Catholic organizations, asked the president to keep the program.
A Sept. 5 statement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called the cancellation of DACA reprehensible, saying it is the opposite of what Scripture tells us to do, and urged Congress to begin working immediately on a legislative solution.
The full statement follows:
“The cancellation of the DACA program is reprehensible. It causes unnecessary fear for DACA youth and their families. These youth entered the U.S. as minors and often know America as their only home. The Catholic Church has long watched with pride and admiration as DACA youth live out their daily lives with hope and a determination to flourish and contribute to society: continuing to work and provide for their families, continuing to serve in the military, and continuing to receive an education. Now, after months of anxiety and fear about their futures, these brave young people face deportation. This decision is unacceptable and does not reflect who we are as Americans.
The Church has recognized and proclaimed 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). Today, 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. Today’s actions represent a heartbreaking moment in our history that shows the absence of mercy and good will, and a short-sighted vision for the future. DACA youth are woven into the fabric of our country and of our Church, and are, by every social and human measure, American youth.
We strongly urge Congress to act and immediately resume work toward a legislative solution. We pledge our support to work on finding an expeditious means of protection for DACA youth.
As people of faith, we say to DACA youth — regardless of your immigration status, you are children of God and welcome in the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church supports you and will advocate for you.”
It was signed by Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB president; Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, USCCB vice president; Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the Committee on Migration; and Bishop Joseph J. Tyson of Yakima, Washington, chairman of the Subcommittee on Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees, and Travelers.
By Rhina Guidos / Catholic News Service
USCCB Media / Judy Keane
CNS photo/Kyle Grillot, Reuters: Dafne Jacobs, a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient, stands with supporters during a rally outside the Federal Building in Los Angeles, Calif., Sept. 1.