U.S. Bishops lead efforts for a DACA fix

As the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a federal judge’s ruling that required the government to keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in place, the Catholic community in Austin urged for more far-reaching legislation.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) held a national call-in day Monday to pressure Congress to pass legislation for the approximately 1.8 million undocumented people living in the U.S. The campaign was furthered by Campus Ministry, who tabled in Ragsdale, and the Austin Diocese that encouraged calls at their pastoral center.

Campus Ministry is also working in conjunction with on-campus organization, Monarchs on the Hilltop, to host a week of action leading up to the March 5 deadline President Trump set on Congress to pass a DACA fix. Throughout the week, the groups are providing more opportunities for the campus community to call Congress, as well as take part in prayer services.

Though President Trump set the deadline in September, two lower courts blocked the Obama-era program from being phased out in March, and the high court’s decision makes a DACA fix less urgent for Congress as the legal battle continues.

Along with calling in, Catholic leaders hosted a day of action Feb. 27 in which they took to Capitol Hill to further push for legislation. As the chairman of the Committee on Migration, Austin Bishop Joe Vásquez called for Congress to “show the leadership necessary to find a just and humane solution for these young people, who daily face mounting anxiety and uncertainty.”

Vásquez, along with other leaders at USCCB, has urged Congress to pass a DACA fix since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the program would be rescinded. “DACA youth are woven into the fabric of our country and of our Church, and are, by every social and human measure, American youth,” wrote Vásquez last year.

Associate Director of Campus Ministry James Puglisi noted that the church has not endorsed a specific piece of legislation for a DACA fix. “The Catholic Church does not want to tell any of its members ‘this is how you should vote,’” said Puglisi. “They’re more about ‘these are the things you need to consider in your discernment process.’”

Factors for the legislation Catholics ought to consider, however, embodies a path to citizenship and does not “undermine family immigration or protections for unaccompanied children,” said a lenten action memo by the USCCB.

Junior Paola Vela, who addresses the respect for life for campus ministry said, “they [DACA recipients] might have to go to a country where they might not know the language, they might not know the culture because they’ve been here for such a long time.”

Vela assisted with tabling efforts on Monday, saying that “being an immigrant myself, I was lucky enough to come here legally… but I know that a lot of people don’t have that opportunity.”

A Dreamers rosary will be held at 7 p.m. at the the Grotto today.