I received with sadness today’s announcement in Washington, DC, that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will be terminated. This program has been of such great assistance to so many in our Diocese who were brought to our country by their parents, often times as infants, having known no other nation. While we must certainly respect our borders and our laws, so we must also be guided in how we are to care for the least among us, including those who, through no fault of their own, have lived in our country for many years and now seek to make their own contribution to the greatness of our society.

With further details this afternoon that earnest efforts are being made to pass legislation to assist those who had been included under DACA prior to the six month termination of this program, I join my brother Bishops in the United States in calling on Congress to promptly act, formulating and passing such legislation as part of a substantive first step toward long needed comprehensive immigration reform in our country. I ask the faithful of the Diocese of Raleigh to join me in contacting members of Congress from their respective districts to urge this needed action, as well as to pray for them as they carry out their work for the common good of our great nation. Mary, Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Patroness of the United States of America, watch over and pray for us, now and always.

Statement from the USCCB

WASHINGTON— The President and Vice President along with Chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have issued a statement denouncing the Administration’s termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program after six months.

The following statement from USCCB President Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, along with USCCB Vice President, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, chairman, Committee on Migration, and Bishop Joseph J. Tyson of Yakima, chairman of the Subcommittee on Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees, and Travelers says the “cancellation of the DACA program is reprehensible.”

Over 780,000 youth received protection from the DACA program since its inception by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2012. DACA provided no legal status or government benefits but did provide recipients with temporary employment authorization to work in the United States and reprieve from deportation.

Full statement follows:

“The cancellation of the DACA program is reprehensible. It causes unnecessary fear for DACA youth and their families. These youth entered the U.S. as minors and often know America as their only home. The Catholic Church has long watched with pride and admiration as DACA youth live out their daily lives with hope and a determination to flourish and contribute to society: continuing to work and provide for their families, continuing to serve in the military, and continuing to receive an education. Now, after months of anxiety and fear about their futures, these brave young people face deportation. This decision is unacceptable and does not reflect who we are as Americans.

The Church has recognized and proclaimed the need to welcome young people: ‘Whoever welcomes one of these children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me’ (Mark 9:37). Today, our nation has done the opposite of how Scripture calls us to respond. It is a step back from the progress that we need to make as a country. Today’s actions represent a heartbreaking moment in our history that shows the absence of mercy and good will, and a short-sighted vision for the future. DACA youth are woven into the fabric of our country and of our Church, and are, by every social and human measure, American youth.

We strongly urge Congress to act and immediately resume work toward a legislative solution. We pledge our support to work on finding an expeditious means of protection for DACA youth.

As people of faith, we say to DACA youth – regardless of your immigration status, you are children of God and welcome in the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church supports you and will advocate for you.