Congress Should Move to Protect Immigrant Youth
September 4, 2017
OKLAHOMA CITY—Based on reports that the White House will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in six months, we urge President Trump and Members of Congress, specifically the Oklahoma delegation, to pursue legislation that strengthens the program or provides legal status for youth hoping for a brighter future.
At the heart of Catholic Social Teaching is the moral obligation to protect the life and dignity of every human being, particularly the most vulnerable, which includes our youth. These young people who are benefitting from DACA were brought to the United States by their parents whose desire was to provide their children with hope, opportunity and safety.
Catholic Bishops in the United States have long supported DACA, and they will continue to support it. While DACA provides no legal status or path to citizenship, it does provide recipients with a temporary reprieve from deportation and employment authorization for legal work opportunities in the United States. An estimated 800,000 young people in the United States have benefitted from the DACA program.
Through our parishes and through Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and the Diocese of Tulsa & Eastern Oklahoma, we have had the privilege of meeting and working with these outstanding individuals, who are very much a part of who we are as an Oklahoma community. They are contributors to our economy, veterans of our military, academic standouts in our universities, seminarians, and leaders in our parishes.
Legislation that ensures these young people can continue to work, study and be protected from deportation is important to the stability of our communities.
However, a decision to end this program, without a legislative fix such as the DREAM Act, would turn our nation’s back on immigrant youth who are seeking to reach the fullness of their God-given potential and to fulfill the promise of gratefully giving back to the only country most have ever known. Such a decision would place DACA youth at risk of deportation from the United States.
The administration has an extraordinary opportunity to demonstrate, both now and to future generations, our nation’s spirit of generosity and compassion. We hope and pray President Trump and Congress can transcend the partisan rancor to strengthen the DACA program or provide legal status for thousands of Oklahoma youth, and hundreds of thousands of young people in our nation.
Most Reverend Paul S. Coakley
Archbishop of Oklahoma City
Most Reverend David A. Konderla
Bishop of Tulsa & Eastern Oklahoma