Parishes urged to invite DACA recipients to speak

Supporters of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program rallied in support of DACA recipients and other undocumented immigrants at a demonstration in downtown Louisville Sept. 5, the same day President Donald Trump’s administration announced an end to the DACA program. The U.S. Catholic Church has pledged its support to DACA recipients, young immigrants brought to the U.S. as minors without permission. (Record Photo by Jessica Able)
Supporters of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program rallied in support of DACA recipients and other undocumented immigrants at a demonstration in downtown Louisville Sept. 5, the same day President Donald Trump’s administration announced an end to the DACA program. The U.S. Catholic Church has pledged its support to DACA recipients, young immigrants brought to the U.S. as minors without permission. (Record Photo by Jessica Able)

Record Staff Report

Parishes in the Archdiocese of Louisville have been asked to consider inviting a “Dreamer” or an advocate of these immigrants to speak at their weekend Masses in the coming weeks.

A “Dreamer” is a young immigrant who received the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals classification (known as DACA). These young people were brought to the United States as children by their parents without permission from the U.S. government. As a result, “Dreamers” grew up in the U.S. and know little about their countries of origin.

The deferral program is ending and, with it, ends the sense of security and stability of some 800,000 youth who voluntarily signed up for DACA.

Two priests are spearheading an effort to help local Catholics better understand what’s at stake. In a letter sent to priests of the archdiocese, they wrote:

“With the support of Archbishop Kurtz and Catholic Charities, we are asking you to consider inviting a  young man or woman who falls under the DACA classification to speak at all the Masses at your church one weekend,” the letter says. “These young speakers would be there to put a human face to this issue and better educate us on what it is like being an immigrant in this country as they explain what they currently face.”

The letter, signed by Fathers Nicholas Rice and James Flynn, retired priests of the archdiocese, noted that the statements would not be political or engage in finger-pointing.

“Each messenger would describe his or her unique experience,” they wrote. “The Dreamer would speak to what the Gospel calls each of us to do and what role the church can play in resolving this issue.”

Father Flynn also noted that pastors concerned about compromising the security of a Dreamer may instead invite an advocate who has accompanied DACA recipients and can share their stories.

President Donald Trump’s administration announced the cancellation of the DACA program Sept. 5. The application process immediately ended, but those currently approved will not be affected until March 5, 2018.

DACA was established by President Barack Obama by executive order in 2012, after legislative efforts to address these young people failed repeatedly.

Trump has called on Congress to address the issue legislatively.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz and his brother bishops of the United States have called on elected officials to preserve protections for “Dreamers” and pledged their support for these youth.

In a letter to Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Archbishop Kurtz urged the passage of failed bipartisan legislation known as the “DREAM Act,” which was first introduced in 2001.

“Most Americans (more than 90 percent) support this type of legislation, which would provide Dreamers with permanent residence and allow them to become citizens, provided that they meet the criteria outlined in the legislation,” he wrote.

He shared this letter publicly in a statement released Sept. 18 and added that he echoes the statement of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which said:

“As people of faith, we say to DACA youth — regardless of your immigration status, you are children of God and welcome in the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church supports you and will advocate for you.”

Those interested in inviting a young person affected by DACA or one of their advocates may call Father Rice at 896-2801 or Father Flynn at 681-6603.

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