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Nebraska bishops declare solidarity with DACA youth

Declaring solidarity with young, undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children and protected by a policy President Donald Trump at times has threatened to end, Nebraska’s three bishops said in an Aug. 29 statement the youth should be allowed to stay in this country.

"DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) youth have become contributors to our economy, veterans of our military, academic standouts in our universities, and leaders in our parishes," said Archbishop George J. Lucas and Bishops James D. Conley of Lincoln and Joseph G. Hanefeldt of Grand Island.

DACA is not a permanent solution, the bishops said, but such a solution must be found.

"Our DACA youths’ precarious legal and political situation overshadows their daily life and work. Their situation demands a resolution that is befitting of their human dignity," they said.

Instituted in 2012 through executive action by then-President Barack Obama, DACA provides children of illegal immigrants a temporary reprieve from deportation and the ability to work and study. Applicants must undergo background checks, pay fees and meet certain guidelines.

More than 3,000 youth in Nebraska and about 800,000 nationwide have received DACA’s temporary protections.

President Trump has wavered on the program, at times calling for its end, but at other moments saying it is a hard decision.

Attorneys general in several states have called for President Trump to rescind the program by Sept. 5 or they will challenge it in court. Some critics of the policy accused President Obama of executive overreach.

Nebraska’s bishops said "reasonable people may disagree about the nature and scope" of the executive action that established DACA, but the need remains for federal lawmakers to seek permanent solutions.

"We call upon our elected officials at the federal level to move forward and find permanent legislative solutions to ensure that DACA youth may remain in the United States, where they may continue to reach their God-given potential," the bishops said. "We promise to work with lawmakers from all parties to ensure that DACA youth are able to stay in this country and live in peace."

"Lastly," the bishops wrote, "to DACA youth here in Nebraska: please know that the Catholic Church stands in solidarity with you. As pastors, it is our desire to accompany you in the anxieties and fears you face through this journey. Thank you for the daily contributions you make to your families, to local communities and parishes, and to our country."

 

Full statement from the bishops is below.

Bishops’ Joint Statement on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Youth

The Catholic Bishops of Nebraska support DACA youth. DACA youth have become contributors to our economy, veterans of our military, academic standouts in our universities,  and leaders in our parishes. These young people entered the United States as children and know America and our local communities in Nebraska as their only home.  

Since 2012, nearly 800,000 young people nationally have passed background checks, paid a fee, and received permission to live and work in our country. Through DACA they have advanced their education, started small businesses, and more fully established themselves as integral members of our society.

While reasonable people may disagree about the nature and scope of former President Barack Obama’s Executive Action that established DACA, we can all agree DACA is not a permanent solution. Our DACA youths’ precarious legal and political situation overshadows their daily life and work. Their situation demands a resolution that is befitting of their human dignity.  

We call upon our elected officials at the federal level to move forward and find permanent legislative solutions to ensure that DACA youth may remain in the United States, where they may continue to reach their God-given potential. We promise to work with lawmakers from all parties to ensure that DACA youth are able to stay in this country and live in peace.

We acknowledge that addressing immigration policy can be daunting and difficult. It is a task that requires prudent analysis and charitable dialogue. But we are certain there are opportunities to assist and advocate for our DACA youth.

Lastly, to DACA youth here in Nebraska: please know that the Catholic Church stands in solidarity with you. As pastors, it is our desire to accompany you in the anxieties and fears you face through this journey. Thank you for the daily contributions you make to your families, to local communities and parishes, and to our country.

With our prayers, we are sincerely yours in Christ,

 

 

Archbishop George J. Lucas Archdiocese of Omaha

Bishop James D. Conley Diocese of Lincoln

Bishop Joseph G. Hanefeldt Diocese of Grand Island

 

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