Catholic Leaders Stand with DACA Recipients

Photo Credit: Adelene Gallego Ramos

At Event in San Jose, County’s Clergy Urge Congress to Pass Legislation to Protect “Dreamers”

Catholic Charities of San Jose/ El Observador

SAN JOSE, CA – On Thursday December 14th Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County and the Diocese of San Jose, along with Santa Clara University, community leaders and faith leaders, held a press conference informing DACA recipients, their families, and the undocumented community that they must not give up hope that they can have a path to citizenship.

The announcement was made at Most Holy Trinity Church in East Side San Jose, where the Bishop of the Diocese of San Jose, Patrick J. McGrath, along with other clergy leaders in Santa Clara County declared their support for DACA and the Dreamers. This included their support for protections from deportation and a path to citizenship.

The DREAM Act has been an attempt at facilitating these undocumented students by providing the nearly 800,000 participants under the DACA program a process for becoming legal citizens while they live, study and work in the US. 

“We must urge Congress to protect Dreamers and pass the DREAM Act to protect them from deportation,” said Gregory R. Kepferle, CEO of Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County. “These youths were brought to the U.S. as children through no fault of their own, they did not decide to break a law. They are now productive members of our congregations and communities, students in our schools, and workers in our businesses. We cannot turn them away.”

Speakers at the event talked about the importance of legislative solution and how their organizations are helping DACA recipients lead productive lives despite an uncertain future. Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services was also present, discussing how there may be other paths to citizenship for Dreamers and the undocumented community.

“Our undocumented friends and neighbors need to know that there are other paths to citizenship that they should explore,” said Robert Yabes, Program Director, Immigration Legal Services, Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County. “Catholic Charities provides free Citizenship Workshops where attendees can be screened for eligibility for these options to attain citizenship.”

While most DACA recipients are from the Latin American community, the Asian Pacific Islander (API) community is especially affected by the rescinding of DACA. Young adults from the API community make up about 10% of DACA recipients.

Since the administration’s announcement on September 5 to wind down the DACA program by March 5, 2018, approximately 77% of eligible DACA recipients applied by the one-month deadline of October 5 to renew their status, which provides legal work authorization and protection from deportation. Unfortunately, on March 6, 2018 approximately 1,400 Dreamers will lose their legal work authorization and will become subject to deportation daily.

“The mass migrations caused by persecution, civil war, the collapse of social safety nets in many countries and terrorism challenge us to be the Lord’s ‘light and salvation’ to those who have lost hope,” said Bishop Patrick J. McGrath, head of the Diocese of San Jose.

According to Catholic Charities, “It is important to pass legislative solution to protect Dreamers because they are American youth, woven into the fabric of our society. They should be allowed to go to college, find legal work, and help support their families.”

The support from Catholic Charities and the leadership of the Catholic community in Santa Clara County offers a pillar of unity for the community, now very much including the Dreamers.