In June, we observed ten years since the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was created through executive action. This program has given hope to many Dreamers, and DACA recipients have gained well-deserved reputations as high academic achievers, community leaders, and contributors to the American economy. Nevertheless, even DACA recipients continue to lack access to permanent legal status, and their future in the United States remains uncertain.
This uncertainty has been exacerbated by years of legal challenges, including a federal district court’s ruling in July 2021 that declared DACA to be unlawful, preventing new applications from being processed and jeopardizing protection for current beneficiaries. Any day now, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit could end protections for nearly 600,000 current DACA beneficiaries, terminating their work authorization and subjecting them to removal from the United States without any regard for their families or the communities that have come to depend on them.
For many years, the Catholic bishops of the United States have called on Congress to provide Dreamers with the ability to integrate as fully recognized members of our society. This includes those who have benefited from DACA. As Bishop Mario Dorsonville, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, emphasized in June, “DACA was never a cure for the underlying challenges facing Dreamers, but it was a welcome step toward recognizing their inherent dignity and unrealized potential. Only Congress can ensure the full integration of this population.”
Last March, the House of Representatives passed the American Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6) with broad bipartisan support. Unfortunately, the Senate has failed to take up the bill. If it does not do so by the time the 117th Congress ends on January 3, 2023, the bill will have to be reintroduced and the process begun all over again in the 118th Congress.
As one way to participate in National Migration Week, urge Congress to move forward with creating a pathway to permanent legal status for Dreamers today.