[Editor's Note: The four Roman Catholic bishops of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have drafted a statement urging Congress to protect the DACA program that was recently terminated by President Trump. DACA is an immigration policy established by the Obama administration that allows some individuals who entered the country illegally as minors to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit, that was recently terminated by President Trump.]
They are known as "Dreamers." However, their dreams have fast become a nightmare. Last week President Trump terminated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program established five years ago by the Obama Administration. The President's decision puts at risk, for deportation, the lives of approximately 19,000 Massachusetts residents and another 780,000 individuals across the country. Each of these young individuals faces a traumatic and frightening future.
The DACA program has clearly been successful since its inception in 2012. It has given young undocumented children an opportunity to enjoy the freedoms of America that we, as a society, too often take for granted. They are able to thrive in the classroom, play in our parks, volunteer for the needy and ultimately grow and mature as young adults.
These children and young adults are innocent of any wrongdoing. They should not be punished for living in the United States of America. They have no other country to call home. They are our current students. They are our high school and college graduates. They are service workers and professionals. They are productive members of our society. In short, they are supporting themselves and their families and have become an integral part of the melting pot we call America.
Today, there remains hope that the protections provided by DACA can be saved. In apparent recognition of the chaos that the elimination of the program will cause, President Trump has given the United States Congress six months to pass a Bill and work with his Administration to ultimately codify many of the DACA protections into law. Congress cannot be silent on this issue. Congress must act now.
The American spirit is resilient and alive. Consider how many citizens, young and old, rich and poor, have come together recently in heroic efforts to aid millions of our fellow Americans in the southern states as they face the toll of dealing with catastrophic natural disasters.
In that same American spirit, we, the four Catholic Bishops of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, urge Congress to also come together, to support the dreamers in their time of need, not to abandon them resulting in irreparable harm to thousands of families. Members of Congress must put political differences aside and work on a bi-partisan effort to re-establish those protections for so many that have been eliminated thus renewing their American dream.
His Eminence Seán P. O'Malley, OFM, Cap., Archbishop of Boston
Most Reverend Robert J. McManus, Bishop of Worcester
Most Reverend Mitchell T. Rozanski, Bishop of Springfield
Most Reverend Edgar M. da Cunha, SDV, Bishop of Fall River