The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) spoke out in support of the BRIDGE Act, legislation that would provide temporary relief from deportation for young people without documentation currently enrolled or able to enroll in the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Addressing U.S. Senators in a letter dated December 22, 2016, Bishop Joe Vásquez, Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, called on the Senators to support the legislation introduced by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) in the 114th Congress, who plan to re-introduce it during the 115th Congress after the New Year. Bishop Vásquez emphasized that the BRIDGE Act nor the DACA program are long-term solutions to our country’s immigration reality and that our country “desperately needs” larger immigration policy reforms.
President-Elect Trump suggested throughout the presidential campaign that ending the DACA program would be one of his first acts in office, though his tone lightened in recent weeks, including statements of concern for “young people” during an interview with Time Magazine where he said, “We’re going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud. They got brought here at a very young age, they’ve worked here, they’ve gone to school here. Some were good students. Some have wonderful jobs. And they’re in never-never land because they don’t know what’s going to happen.” There are currently approximately 700,000 individuals enrolled in the DACA program, with an estimated 1.3 million eligible.
Jesuit college and university leaders issued a public statement in support of undocumented students in late-November, one of many statements and public letters to elected leaders calling for the protection of undocumented students and the retention of the DACA program.
Full story with text of Bishop Vásquez’s letter can be found at Ignatian Solidarity Network.