The chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s Committee on Migration, Bishop Joe Vásquez, of Austin Texas, announces support for H.R. 4796, the “Uniting and Securing America” (USA) Act of 2018 as it is currently written. The USA Act is a bipartisan bill that offers a path to citizenship to Dreamers and augments existing border security technology at the U.S./Mexico border.
“We are hopeful our support of the current version of the USA Act, and our continued support of the Dream Act, will encourage Congress to act now and find a humane legislative solution for Dreamers,” noted Bishop Vásquez.
The USA Act would provide qualifying Dreamers with protection from deportation, as well as a path to citizenship. Additionally, the USA Act of 2018 would augment border security at the U.S./Mexico border, in part through the deployment of new technology; increase the number of immigration judges and Board of Immigration Appeals staff attorneys, and seek to address root causes and prevent future irregular migration from Central America.
On the need for immediate action, Bishop Vásquez stated: “Every day, my brother bishops and I witness directly the constant anxiety of Dreamer youth and their families, and that experience of urgency moves us to press Congress for an immediate and durable solution to this problem.”
The USCCB’s announcement came less than 24-hours after Federal Judge John D. Bates of Federal District Court for the District of Columbia said that the Trump administration’s decision to terminate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA program, was based on the “virtually unexplained” grounds that the program was “unlawful.” Judge Bates stayed his decision for 90 days and gave the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which administers the program, the opportunity to better explain its reasoning for canceling the program. If DHS fails to offer a rationale, Bates will require them to begin accepting and processing new applications and renew applications for current DACA recipients.
“Despite the positive nature of this week’s District Court ruling against the Trump administration’s attempts to rescind DACA, Dreamers and their families need a more permanent solution,” said Christopher Kerr, executive director of the Ignatian Solidarity Network, in response to the court’s decision. ISN has come to know Dreamers through their presence at Jesuit and other member universities, high schools, parishes, and social ministries throughout the U.S.
“Dreamers have shared with us tremendous fear regarding their ability to complete their education and pursue careers, their safety and the safety of their families, and their ability to remain part of communities that they have called home and contributed to for a significant portion of their lives,” said Kerr. Noting the USCCB’s announcement regarding the USA Act, “Congress must act to provide a permanent legislative solution that recognizes the contributions of Dreamers and their families in our society. Congressional leaders have the bipartisan support to move forward on common sense legislation that responds to the interests of both parties. The Ignatian Solidarity Network stands with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in supporting legislation that would provide Dreamers with protection from deportation and a path to citizenship.”