Let’s get something done for Dreamers Print
Thursday, Mar. 08, 2018 -- 12:00 AM

When I think about the DACA program, Alan comes to my mind. His story was highlighted in an article published early this year in the Catholic Herald.

The article discussed immigrants who have received help at the Catholic Multicultural Center (CMC) in Madison.

Alan’s story

Alan came to the United States from Mexico City with his parents when he was 11 years old. “They came for a better life,” said Alan. About a month after arriving in Madison, the family found out about the CMC through word of month.

At that time, Alan’s parents were struggling to make ends meet, and they needed some help. They used the CMC food pantry for about a month until they got on their feet.

Alan’s parents also attended English as a Second Language classes offered at the CMC, and Alan tagged along to improve his already strong English skills and help his fellow classmates.

Throughout the years, Alan continued to come to the center. He participated in a CMC youth program and helped at the front desk and food pantry. Now in his early 20s, Alan volunteers with the CMC Immigration Legal Services Program.

Alan applied for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012. He was able to get a driver’s license, has access to better job opportunities, and had an easier time applying for school.

“The immigrant community continues to contribute to society in a huge way,” said Alan.

DACA program in jeopardy

He and some 800,000 other DACA recipients have been on pins and needles, since the program is in jeopardy. President Donald Trump had said he would end DACA by March 5 and called on Congress to save the program. But no deal was reached.

On February 26, the Supreme Court denied a request by the Trump administration to bypass federal appellate courts and rule on whether the administration can shut down DACA.

This leaves DACA in place until the Supreme Court accepts the case for the appeals court and possibly gives a decision — or until Congress finally deals with it by passing what has been called the DREAM Act, which stands for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act. The bill is what gives DACA recipients the “Dreamer” name.

Bishops want to help Dreamers

The U.S. Catholic bishops had planned a National Call-in Day for Dreamers on February 26, the day of the Supreme Court ruling.

In response to the Supreme Court decision, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Migration, said that the “Supreme Court decision does not reduce the urgency of finding an immediate legislative solution for Dreamers, people who were brought to the United States as children and have known only our country as their home. The anxiety and uncertainty that Dreamers and their families face remain unabated.”

Referring to the National Call-in Day for Dreamers, he said that “thousands of Catholics urged their leaders in Congress to protect Dreamers. These faithful took action because they recognize that protecting these young people from deportation is an issue of human life and dignity, and that a legislative solution is necessary to make that protection durable.

“My brother bishops and I continue to call upon Congress to work towards a bipartisan and humane solution as soon as possible.”

I urge people to contact their members of Congress asking them to pursue legislation to protect DACA recipients like Alan. These young people are contributing members of our society, and many look forward to becoming citizens of the United States. Let’s get something done to protect their future.