Take action to protect dreamers Print
Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 -- 12:00 AM

The  official name for individuals who meet the general requirements of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act is DREAMers.

However, I think we could call them dreamers in the regular sense, because they are young people who dream of staying in the United States and becoming citizens of this country.

In 2012, a policy called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — popularly known as DACA — was implemented under the Obama administration. It gave young people — mostly 15 to 30 years of age — a temporary reprieve from deportation and the authorization to be employed in our country.

Changed her life

“DACA changed my life,” Claudia Quinones, a college student in the Washington, D.C., area, said in an interview with Catholic News Service. “I was able to get a job, start working, and be able to enroll myself in school.”

Quinones, joined by clergy, Religious, and laity of various faiths, prayed in front of the White House August 2, spoke of the opportunities and contributions she and other recipients have made, thanks to DACA.

“We are people who speak English . . . I feel as American as my classmates,” Quinones told CNS. “I’ve been here since elementary school . . . and now college.”

Faith leaders support DACA

Catholics from organizations such as Faith in Public Life, the Franciscan Action Network, the Sisters of Mercy, and  Network, a Catholic social justice lobbying organization, joined religious leaders from other faith traditions publicly voicing their support of the program.

More than 1,600 religious leaders from around the country have also signed a letter sent to the Trump administration asking to keep the DACA program intact.

Mercy Sister Anne Curtis, who attended the rally, said that since her Religious Order is involved with education, she felt the need to attend “in solidarity.” Her concern, however, goes beyond the students and other young people affected, she said, and extends to their families, as well as what the country will lose if DACA, as well as other programs, are terminated. “They’re great contributors to our society,” not just economically, but in what they bring to communities, said Sister Anne.

DACA under attack

But DACA is under attack this summer as officials from nine states joined Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in urging the Trump administration to end it, threatening the government with a lawsuit September 5 if the program continues. A different group of 20 attorneys general wrote to the administration urging the president to keep the program.

As the end of summer nears, college and university administrators worry about the threat of the lawsuit and what it will mean for their returning students who still have no clear idea of what will happen to their only legal lifeline.

Bishops support Dream Act

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and its Justice for Immigrants Campaign (JFI) are urging individuals to contact their U.S. senators and request that they support and co-sponsor the Dream Act of 2017, S. 1615.

The bipartisan Dream Act, authored by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL), offers qualifying immigrant youth “conditional permanent resident status” and a path to full lawful permanent residency and eventual citizenship.

The bill would cover the estimated 780,000 individuals who received temporary relief from deportation and employment eligibility through the DACA program.

The USCCB said in an action alert, “The young people S. 1615 seeks to protect are contributors to our economy, veterans of our military, academic standouts in our universities, and leaders in our parishes and communities. As Catholics, we have long supported DREAMERS as we believe in protecting the dignity of every human being, especially that of our children.”

To learn more about DACA and the Dream Act, visit the JFI website (, which has a suggested action alert to send to your U.S senators. Please consider taking action today!