Enactment of legislation this year is essential for all of these groups mentioned, but it is especially critical for Dreamers, given the unfortunate ruling on July 16 from a district court in Texas that prevents new DACA applicants from having their applications processed and threatens the futures of those currently receiving DACA protection.
American Catholics have been working toward immigration reform for decades. The 117th Congress has an opportunity to address immigration in a positive, productive, and forward-looking way. Disagreements about specific aspects of immigration policy should not stand in the way of relief for those already living as Americans in practice, if not on paper.
Millions living in the United States today without legal status have been doing so for years, if not decades, and have established strong community ties. Many of those without legal status or access to permanent residency have U.S.-citizen children, homes, and businesses. They serve as leaders in their faith communities, schools, and other institutions. Catholic teaching affirms a nation’s right to maintain its borders and regulate immigration. At the same time, it is contrary to Catholic teaching to have a “double society”, one “visible” with rights and one “invisible” without rights, unable to fully integrate. This is especially true when so many have committed themselves to the wellbeing of others and are simultaneously excluded from programs and denied rights afforded to citizens, as we’ve seen throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This is to say nothing of the billions of dollars in federal, state, and local taxes paid by undocumented immigrants, as well as all those who serve in our nation’s armed forces, some of whom are then subject to deportation.
Both the moral and economic rationales for reform are clear. We cannot delay any further. The time for positive immigration reform is now.