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People hold placards at a rally at U.S. District Court in support of DACA applicants People hold placards at a rally at U.S. District Court in support of DACA applicants  (2021 Getty Images)

US Bishops urge Congress to act after ruling suspending DACA

Following a US federal judge’s recent ruling that bars new applications into the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, US Bishops are calling on Congress to pass laws that will provide legal status and a path to citizenship for immigrants.

By Vatican News staff writer

Bishops in the US have expressed disappointment at a recent decision by a federal judge in Texas that ruled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to be unlawful.

The ruling, made on Friday by Judge Andrew Hansen, concluded that DACA violates the Administrative Procedure Act, which governs federal rulemaking, because it evaded the normal “notice and comment” process adopted in making new rules.

The DACA program, created under the Obama administration, not only protects some undocumented immigrants who came into the US as children from deportation, but also allows them to work in the country. Protections under the DACA program are renewable and valid for two years at a time. The program, however, does not provide a pathway to citizenship.

This latest ruling blocks the US government from accepting new applications into the DACA program, which actively covers approximately 650,000 recipients out of an estimated 3.6 million potential applicants (often referred to as "dreamers") total in the United States.

Appeal to lawmakers

In a statement on Monday, Bishop Mario Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference (USCCB) Committee on Migration, called for action by Congress to pass legislation that would provide protection for immigrants.

In this regard, he noted that the “Senate already has multiple bills before it that would grant permanent relief to Dreamers, including the American Dream and Promise Act passed by the House of Representatives in March.”

The Bishop went on to point out that DACA was never meant to be a permanent solution for Dreamers; and that the recent ruling is “simply the most recent development in a long list of events warranting action by Congress.”

Not just a matter of human dignity

Further supporting his appeal, Bishop Dorsonville highlighted the contributions of Dreamers to the US economy, noting that they “serve in our armed forces, and raise American families.”

In spite of this, he lamented, “they are prevented from becoming full members of our society.” He therefore stressed that “all Dreamers, not just those receiving DACA, deserve the opportunity to achieve their God-given potential in the only country most of them have ever known.”

This, he insisted, “is not only a matter of human dignity but also family unity, considering the 250,000 U.S.-citizen children with Dreamers as parents.”

Concluding, Bishop Dorsonville urged the Senate to join the House of Representatives in passing legislation that provides legal status and a path to citizenship for all Dreamers. In doing so, he said, “we recall the words of Pope Francis: ‘Immigrants, if they are helped to integrate, are a blessing, a source of enrichment and new gift that encourages a society to grow'."

Ruling to be contested

Meanwhile, US president Joe Biden on Saturday expressed disappointment with the federal judge’s decision to strike down the Obama-era DACA program and said that the Department of Justice would appeal the decision.

He noted that while the court’s order does not affect current DACA recipients, the decisions nonetheless relegates hundreds of thousands of young immigrants to an uncertain future.

Biden also urged action from Congress, insisting that only it can ensure a permanent solution by granting a path to citizenship for Dreamers that will “provide the certainty and stability that these young people need and deserve.” He, therefore, reiterated his call to Congress to pass the American Dream and Promise Act.

20 July 2021, 13:55