Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles is asking Catholics in the archdiocese to contact their representatives urging a vote on bipartisan legislation to address the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
“The Dreamers have been waiting for decades for Congress to do its job and pass immigration reform legislation,” said Gomez in a May 19 statement. “But for many years now, reform has been blocked in the House for political reasons by a minority of lawmakers.”
“This is not about Republicans or Democrats,” the archbishop said, noting that more than 75 percent of Americans support offering permanent legal status to DACA recipients. “It is about right and wrong. People’s lives are in the balance.”
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals was an executive action created by President Barack Obama that granted protection from deportation as well as job permits to people who were brought to the United States illegally as children. DACA recipients, also known as “Dreamers,” have to register each year with the program.
In September of 2017, President Donald Trump moved to end DACA, saying that he did not believe he had the executive power to continue the program. Initially, Trump gave Congress six months to codify parts of DACA into law and to create a solution to this issue, but a solution was not reached by the March 5 deadline.
Two federal judges blocked the March 5 expiration date for DACA, and the Supreme Court declined to hear an immediate review from the Trump administration protesting this decision, moving the “deadline” to the fall of 2018.
A federal judge ruled in April that DACA must be kept and begin to accept new applications.
Lawmakers in Congress have been unable to agree on stipulations within a bill, including whether a legislative proposal should include funding for a wall along the southern U.S. border, supported by President Donald Trump.
While several bills have been proposed, none have made it out of committee and onto the House floor for a vote.
One bill in particular, the “Uniting and Securing America (USA) Act of 2018,” has gained the support of the U.S. bishops’ conference. In addition to shielding “Dreamers” from deportation and providing for a path to citizenship for certain qualified persons, the bill — H.R. 4796 — would increase border security and would seek to address corruption in Central America, a major cause of “irregular migration.”
A group of moderate Republicans in Congress has been working to force a vote through a rare procedural tool called a “discharge petition.” If successful, this would bypass the committee stage bring all immigration proposals to the House floor for debate and a vote.
Stressing the need for prayer and action, Archbishop Gomez did not blame a particular political party for the stalled progress on the legislation, instead referring to a “minority of lawmakers.”
He urged Catholics to call their congressmen, to encourage them to come to a solution before time runs out.
“Urge them to do what is right and what the American people want them to do — to allow a vote on DACA.”