Current Issues

WE WALK THE SACRED JOURNEY THIS WEEK 

In The Word

Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying:  “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the seat of Moses.  Therefore, all the things they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds, for they say, but they do not practice what they say.   They bind up heavy loads and put them on the shoulders of men, but they, themselves,  are not willing to budge them with their finger.  All the works they do, they do to be seen by men.  (Gospel of Matthew.  Ch: 23)

In Our Contemplation

Storm of the Century

Last week, the revocation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA) was a different kind of storm of the century.   Despite the program’s strong and wide bi-partisan support, on September 5, 2017, the Trump administration ended DACA .   The program had provided work authorization and temporary protection from deportation  for roughly 800,000 people who were brought to the United States as children.   The Attorney General claimed adherence to the “Rule of Law” as the basis for the decision although, in 2014, the Department of Justice had concluded that President Obama could permissibly use “deferred action” like DACA to prioritize the removal of certain non-citizens.  Then the program was defended as constitutionally sound – innocent persons should not be punished and DACA youth, or Dreamers, should not be an immigration enforcement priority.  These young people were, by and large, too young to break any laws in entering the country without authorization. The greatest number are law-abiding to this day as well as leaders in their communities and in their chosen fields.  Terminating their status will make some “stateless”, as many do not have citizenship in the countries of their birth.

Strong Condemnation

US Catholic Bishops used unusually strong language to condemn the decision calling it “heartless” “malicious” and “reprehensible”.  The revocation of DACA  also calls each of us to search our hearts and seek out a human response based on Judeo-Christian values.  When it comes to immigrants and refugees, the core value of loving our neighbor gets buried in the rhetoric of legality and illegality.  Some Catholics have claimed that the church encourages illegal immigration for economic benefits rather than the Gospel imperative along with Catholic teaching for two thousand years that guide Catholics and Christians.   The voices of exclusion have won the most recent battle.   But their claim is false that ending DACA will save American jobs.  Blaming DACA for the Central American migration crisis reflects ignorance that the gang violence in the region is the main reason that children are fleeing their homes. On this issue, the church has a strong moral argument to make.   Jesus spent his missionary life making people feel welcome and reaching out to those ostracized by society.  Can we be expected to do anything less?   It is time for supporters of DACA to be brave and prophetic.   The faith community needs to show the same courage as the Dreamers who are telling their stories and speaking out on the issue.  Bold words must be followed up by bolder action.

An Injustice and A Disservice

The decision to end DACA is an injustice to these talented young people and a disservice to our nation.   If they are not afforded the opportunity to become full members of U.S. society, it will make a mockery of the values – fairness, opportunity and freedom – that have made our nation great.   DACA recipients are deeply embedded in U.S. society.   Nearly all have graduated from high school.  Dreamers are hard-working and ambitious and strongly committed to the only nation they have ever known – all qualities the president should admire.   These hopeful young people want only to contribute and to participate fully in this country.   Eliminating DACA deprives the nation of their talent, energy and skills and seeks to remove many future US leaders and some of the nation’s brightest current leaders as well.   The nation should be “hiring” them, not  “firing” them.  The decision to end DACA marks a point of demarcation for the United States.  The Trump administration has taken away the hope and opportunity consistent with American core values and has left DACA recipients with broken dreams.  Without action on behalf of Dreamers, they will be forced to return to nations they do not know and to start their lives over with little or nothing to show for the hard work, sacrifice and contributions they made to the U.S.

Time to Make Things Right

In essence, the argument for legalizing these young Americans is about who we are as a country and the values upon which the nation is built.  As a nation we seem to be at risk of losing our soul of compassion and replacing it with a misguided sense that law and order will somehow save us from ruin.    In the end, the fate of our co-religionists, neighbors, colleagues, family members and friends is not about economics, culture or political brinkmanship.   The resolution of  this issue will depend on whether fair-minded Americans stand up for these impressive young people in the months ahead.  So it is imperative to have a political response to the termination of DACA.  Citizens and other U.S. residents must push Congress to find a solution. This will mean lots of hard work and organizing of people of good will.   In a sense DACA is on life-support and it will be up to Congress to bring it back to life.  Pope Francis has designated the protection of immigrants  as a “pro-life” issue.   800,000 lives are in the balance.  Congress should enact legislation that welcomes migrants, refugees and dreamers in a way that will truly make America great again.    The reaction of supporters of the DACA program offers a measure of hope that Congress will do what it has failed to do for 16 years, pass the Dream Act.   This bi-partisan bill recently introduced into the Senate and House makes the compelling case for allowing the Dreamers to remain in the U.S. and to flourish.    As a nation founded and built by immigrants, the US must create a path to citizenship for this highly deserving group of young Americans. 

Conclusion

The program’s termination is an indication that the administration is pursuing a mass deportation policy without concern for its moral, human and social consequences.  This action belies the claim that this administration supports legal immigration and values the contributions that immigrants make to the nation.  How can exiling so many well-prepared youth make our nation a better place to live?  It will achieve the exact opposite.  To remove 800,000 people from the work force and not expect financial disaster is a delusion. 

In Our Prayer

O God, may your kindom / kingdom come!   Come when we’re down and helpless; when lies are reigning; when fear and indifference are growing.  May your kindom come!   Come when joy is missing; when love is missing; and unbelief is growing!   May your kindom come!   Come to the sick and lonely; to the imprisoned and tortured.  May your kindom come!   Come into our praying; into our singing; into our hearts; into our hands; into our eyes.   May your kindom come!  Amen.  Alleluia.

In Our Response

♥   Print the attached file that suggests participating in a universal declaration of “safe space” that originated during World War II when citizens of the Netherlands defied the Nazis by protecting their Jewish neighbors by wearing a safety pin under their collars to let them know they were in safe space.  Today the safety pin is a communication tool to recognize many ostracized persons and assure them they are welcome with us.

♥   You will find a repetition of actions on behalf of Dreamers listed below.  Since they originate from different organizations, it gives testimony to the widespread support they have, so do as many as you can.

·         https://justiceforimmigrants.org/action-alerts/action-alert-support-dream-act-2017/

·         https://petitions.moveon.org/sign/pass-the-dream-act-now?akid=189355.35956391.0KyCcV&rd=1&source=mo&t=14

·         As an LCWR member, call to speak to your representative  (1-888-496-3502) and two senators (1-888-410-0619) on these automated hotlines.  Urge their support for the Dream Act to give Dreamers protection under the law.  DACA recipients are contributing members of our communities and Americans in all but citizenship.  They deserve our protection.

Thank you for your prayer, reflection and action the keep us faithful to the Gospel of Jesus and our commitment to our Chapter Directives.

Source:  United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

 

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