Congressional leaders fail to act by DACA deadline

The deadline for Congress to pass legislation surrounding Dreamers, people who were brought to the U.S. illegally at a young age, passed Monday. Students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status rallied in a week of action, but don’t feel confident that a path to citizenship will be available to them anytime soon.

“I am confident that something will get done maybe in the next two years, three years- something’s gonna get done,” Josue Damian-Martinez said. “We’re realistic.”

The deadline President Trump set for Congress in September when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced plans to end the program became arbitrary last week when the Supreme Court declined to hear the case. In doing so, they upheld a lower court’s ruling that the DACA program continue.

Still, campus organization Monarchs on the Hilltop drew attention to the deadline and their desire for the Dream Act to pass by teaming up with campus ministry to host prayer services. The action week included a meeting with Bishop Daniel Garcia, who emphasized that Catholics should recognize immigration as an issue related to the sanctity of life.

“There are some congressional leaders that are willing to accept the life issue with abortion,” Garcia said. Relating the same value on matters of immigration, he added, is less pressing “because their constituents don’t necessarily agree with it, sometimes even Catholic constituents,” Garcia said.

Garcia also echoed a statement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to reject legislation that threatens family-based immigration. In previous immigration negotiations, President Trump has indicated a desire to eliminate an aspect of the current immigration law that allows immigrants residing in the U.S to sponsor close family members to become citizens, commonly referred to as “chain migration.”

“It’s not chain migration,” Garcia said. “We’re talking about families.”

Arcelia Hernandez, assistant professor of education, is one of the faculty and staff members who sat in on the conversation with Garcia, along with Vice President for Student Affairs Lisa Kirkpatrick and Father Peter Walsh. “If we work here at this institution, or if we claim to have any moral standing or values, then it’s our responsibility to be supportive of them,” Hernandez said.

The weekly rosary at the grotto was dedicated to DACA last week, and Walsh provided special intentions for students who are recipients of the program. “Especially for all the students who might feel unsafe or troubled at this time.”

To close out the week, Monarchs on the Hilltop convened around the seal to pray yet again for legislation and share their personal experiences as DACA recipients.

Senior Carlos Alpuche has lived in the U.S. since the age of five and obtained DACA status years ago, when he desired to test for a drivers license. “DACA means the world to me.”

Alpuche further explained that his family left Honduras after an economic collapse, and that by the time their visas expired, they had adjusted to life here.

Explaining that the Dream Act is the only legislation that he supports, Alpuche said “as an American, I want what is best for this country.” However, he said the act would have to be “clean,” meaning it does not have attachments such as funding for a border wall or an end to “chain migration.”

On Monday, Trump tweeted, “It’s March 5th and the Democrats are nowhere near to be found on DACA. Gave them 6 months, they just don’t care. Where are they? We are ready to make a deal!”