By Liz Sullivan
Gathered in front of Most Holy Trinity Church in East San Jose on December 14, Bishop Patrick J. McGrath joined civic and religious leaders for a press conference about DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). The event was hosted by Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County.
Established by the Obama administration in June 2012 and rescinded by the Trump administration in September 2017, DACA was an immigration policy that allowed some individuals who as minors, and had either entered or remained in the country illegally, to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and to be eligible for a work permit. Full implementation of the rescission has been delayed six months (to March 2018) to give Congress time to decide how to deal with the population that was previously eligible under the policy.
(UPDATE – A U.S. District Court judge in San Francisco Jan. 9 temporarily blocked the Trump administration’s decision to rescind DACA. In a 49-page ruling, Judge William Alsup of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California said his nationwide injunction is appropriate because “our country has a strong interest in the uniform application of immigration law and policy.” Alsup said the Trump administration must start accepting DACA renewal applications again, but he also said the federal government is not required to accept applications from those who have never before applied to be covered by DACA).
As of 2017, about 800,000 individuals, referred to as “Dreamers” after the Dream Act bill, were enrolled. The Dream Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) is a legislative proposal for a multi-phase process for qualifying alien minors in the United States that would first grant conditional residency, and upon meeting further qualifications, permanent residency.
“I want to say this very clearly to the DREAMERS: Keep dreaming,” said the Bishop. “Do not allow the darkness of ignorant speech and spiteful rhetoric to diminish your dreams of becoming what you want to do and who you want to be in this country. Keep dreaming. It may seem that the lack of support for the DREAM act in Congress and the White House is a mountain too high to overcome or that the cost of housing is a valley that is too wide to cross…but we must not give up our dream of a smooth path to opportunity and a fair shot of success.”
Joining the Bishop at the event were: Gregory R. Kepferle, CEO, Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County; Father Michael E. Engh, S.J., President, Santa Clara University; Robert Yabes, Program Director, Immigration Legal Services, Catholic Charities; Mina Ciurea, Attorney, Immigration Legal Services, Catholic Charities; Father Jon Pedigo, Director of Advocacy & Community Engagement, Catholic Charities; Father Robert Fambrini, S.J., Pastor, Most Holy Trinity Parish, and Omar Rodriguez, Kooltura.