The U.S. Supreme Court gave supporters of protections for “Dreamers” some breathing room this week.
On Monday, the court rejected a request by the government to speed up the legal proceedings over the status of young adults brought to the United States without legal protection as minors, a group known as Dreamers.
By waiting until at least one appeals court rules on renewal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the high court effectively canceled a March 5 deadline for lawmakers to find a legislative solution for the estimated 800,000 young adults covered by the Obama-era program.
Now it’s time for Congress to act, to carry out its responsibility to make immigration policy and to resist the temptation to use this critical issue for members’ own political advantage.
Without legal protection, the young people in question will lose their permission to work in this country and will face deportation.
As Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles warned, the Supreme Court’s decision “does not change anything.” People’s lives and families’ futures are still hanging in the balance.
The Supreme Court’s action Feb. 26 came on the same day as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ National Call-In Day to Protect Dreamers. The bishops, who have long called for a just and humane solution to the status of DACA beneficiaries, asked Catholics and others to call their members of Congress and urge them to take up the issue.
The main legislative proposal drafted to address the situation is the DREAM Act—the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act—resulting in the word Dreamers applied to the affected young adults. The proposal, to allow qualifying youth conditional residency and eventual permanent residency, has repeatedly been defeated in Congress.
The bishops want lawmakers to protect Dreamers from deportation, provide them with a path to citizenship and avoid any damage to existing protections for families and unaccompanied minors in the process.
“Our faith compels us to stand with the vulnerable, including our immigrant brothers and sisters,” said the USCCB announcing the call-in day. “We have done so continually, but we must show our support and solidarity now in a special way. Now is the time for action.”
As many Americans recognize, children have no control over moves that their families make, even a move to another country. Many of the Dreamers in that position, especially those brought here as babies or young children, do not even remember their home country.
They have essentially grown up in the United States, attended school here and have permits allowing them to work when they come of age. This country, in other words, is their home.
Allowing their protections to expire would pull the rug out from under the Dreamers and would leave a stain on our national conscience.
“This is wrong, and it is up to Congress to make it right,” said Archbishop Gomez.
By championing these young people, the U.S. bishops want to give them a chance to continue contributing to the common good and become a part of our common future as a nation.
We fully support the effort.