By Lauren Camera
August 28, 2017
More than 1,300 Catholic educators are urging the Trump administration to leave in place the Obama-era policy that protects young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
“We stand with our students who are DACA beneficiaries,” they wrote in what they’re calling a “moral mandate” released Monday.
“Their perseverance, hard work and hopefulness is an example to us as teachers,” they wrote. “We witness the obstacles they overcome each day as they pursue their dream of a better life for themselves and their families. In facing adversity and uncertainty with grace and hope, they embody the best of our schools, our country and the Catholic tradition.”
The move comes as the president runs up against a Sept. 5 deadline set by 10 state attorneys general, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, for him to end DACA or face a challenge in federal court.
The DACA policy currently protects about 750,000 immigrants who came to the U.S. as children from deportation.
On Tuesday, a handful of Catholic education leaders – including Bishop Mark Seitz, Diocese of El Paso, Texas; Father Timothy Kesicki, president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States; Patricia McGuire, president of Trinity Washington University, and others – will specifically call on retired Gen. John Kelly, Trump’s White House chief of staff, to protect the DACA policy.
The educators will argue that Catholic teaching “clearly and strongly” calls for immigration policies that “uphold the dignity of immigrants and their families.”
“Every human being bears within him or her the image of God, which confers upon us a dignity higher than any passport or immigration status,” Bishop Seitz said in a statement.
Catholic educators have been vocal on the issue of DACA, and this isn’t the first time they’ve sought to pressure Kelly, whom they consider a “prominent Catholic.”
In May, more than 65 presidents of Catholic colleges and universities demanded the Trump administration clarify its immigration enforcement policies regarding the Obama-era DACA policy.
The college presidents requested a face-to-face meeting with Kelly to better understand how enforcement agencies are approaching DACA holders, and they voiced their concerns about various statements made by Immigration and Customs Enforcement regarding the detentions and deportations of DACA holders.
Moreover, last November, more than 100 presidents of Catholic schools signed a pledge to support DACA students and other students in the country illegally, and many have promised to refuse to share information or cooperate with ICE and Customs and Border Protection.
Since coming into office, the Trump administration has cracked down on illegal immigration by stepping up enforcement and promising to hire thousands of new border agents.
It’s unclear whether the Catholic educators have had any sway over the president’s looming decision. Until now, Trump has drawn a line when it comes to not targeting the young immigrants, also known as “dreamers,” who were granted protection by DACA under the Obama administration – protections Trump has previously said he would leave in place.
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