The following message was issued Tuesday, Sept. 5, by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M.:
The Trump Administration has announced the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program or “Dream Act” this morning, establishing an expiration date on the legal status of some 800,000 people who entered the United States illegally as children.
The future of these “Dreamers,” as they are commonly known, is now in the hands of the United States Congress, which has roughly six months to enact a permanent legislative solution to their situation.
Much has been written and said about the “pros” and “cons” of the DACA program. As a Catholic Bishop – although I do have my own personal opinion – it is not my place to enter into the specific politics involved in the partisan positions taken or advocated regarding this divisive issue. Few would disagree, however, that the immigration system in our country is badly broken and desperately in need of repair. DACA is more than just a matter of politics. It raises a fundamental moral question, and here I will weigh in.
Simply put, I wonder: is ending DACA a good or even right (that is moral) thing to do at this point? Consider the hundreds of thousands affected: those who came to the United States under the age of 16, albeit illegally, with parents or family; who have lived here continuously since their arrival without criminal incident or conviction; who have pursued an education or employment or military service in the same manner as any native-born U.S. citizen; who did not make the choice to immigrate but for whom the United States is the only country and home they ever really knew. Is the elimination of legal protection from deportation for them a good or right (that is moral) thing to do at this point in their settled lives?
While constitutional scholars debate and politicians “politic” as we all await the action of Congress now, let’s keep in mind the real lives of those whose peace of mind and heart will turn to anxiety and fear with today’s news. Let’s pray for them and for Congress who holds their lives and future in its hands. Do what’s good and right.
The text of a “Statement of the Bishops of New Jersey” in response to the invitation of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops may be found here.
Most Reverend David M. O’Connell, C.M., J.C.D.
Bishop of Trenton