BY ISN STAFF | February 28, 2018
As the March 5 deadline for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) looms, the Catholic community is escalating its demands for a compassionate response to the crisis faced by an estimated 800,000 Dreamers.
On Tuesday, February 27, hundreds of Catholic leaders gathered outside the Russell Senate Office Building to demand a clean DREAM Act as a part of a Catholic Day of Action with Dreamers organized by PICO National Network in partnership with Faith in Public Life and a coalition of Catholic social justice organizations, including the Ignatian Solidarity Network.
Demands include a new policy which protects Dreamers while not harming their families and communities.
The day of action began with Mass at St. Peter Catholic Church on Capitol Hill, after which attendees processed to the Russell Senate Building for a short press conference highlighting the voices of Dreamers and Catholic faith leaders, including Fr. Thomas Reese, S.J., senior analyst at Religion New Service and former editor of America Magazine.
“Giving legal status to Dreamers is not a political issue. it is a moral issue,” said Fr. Reese to those assembled during the press conference. “I am here missioned by my provincial to represent the Jesuits who work on the west coast of the United States because we know the Dreamers. They are our students sitting in our classrooms. They are our parishioners kneeling in our churches. They are our friends. They are our colleagues… It is time to pass the Dream Act. It is time to do what is right. It is time to do what is just.”The press conference was followed by song, prayer, and nonviolent civil disobedience in the Russell Senate Office Building Rotunda, during which dozens of Catholic leaders, including Fr. Reese, were arrested. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) addressed attendees both following the press conference and in the Russell Building Rotunda, articulating his support of Dreamers and TPS recipients and the political complexities of realizing a clean Dream Act and protections for TPS recipients.
Following the action in the Russell Rotunda, nearly 200 Catholic leaders made visits to congressional offices to ensure that members of Congress recognize the strong commitment of the Catholic community to stand in solidarity with Dreamers, their families and communities. Participants included Catholic Dreamers, Bishop John Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky, priests, women religious, religious brothers, and allies.
View video coverage of Catholic Day of Action with Dreamers from Catholic News Service: