WASHINGTON—On July 16, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas ruled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to be unlawful. DACA allows certain undocumented individuals brought to the United States as children—known as Dreamers—to remain in the country. DACA provides temporary protection from deportation and grants work authorization; it does not create a pathway to citizenship. Not all Dreamers are eligible for DACA, nor have all DACA-eligible individuals received protection through the program. Today, there are approximately 650,000 active DACA recipients in the United States and around 3.6 million Dreamers total.
Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, issued the following statement in response to the court’s ruling:
“While we are disappointed with this ruling, we know that DACA was never meant to be a permanent solution for Dreamers. This ruling is simply the most recent development in a long list of events warranting action by Congress. The Senate currently has multiple bills before it that would grant permanent relief to Dreamers, including the American Dream and Promise Act passed by the House of Representatives in March.
“Dreamers contribute to our economy, serve in our armed forces, and raise American families, but they are prevented from becoming full members of our society. All Dreamers, not just those receiving DACA, deserve the opportunity to achieve their God-given potential in the only country most of them have ever known. This is not only a matter of human dignity but also family unity, considering the 250,000 U.S.-citizen children with Dreamers as parents. Current DACA recipients continue to receive protection, but for how long?
“My brother bishops and I urge the Senate to join the House of Representatives in passing legislation that would provide legal status and a path to citizenship for all Dreamers. In doing so, we recall the words of Pope Francis: ‘Immigrants, if they are helped to integrate, are a blessing, a source of enrichment and new gift that encourages a society to grow.’”