Social Justice Corner: The real victims of the current immigration debate

Wall or no wall… Path to citizenship or mandatory deportation…. Law breakers or contributors to society? The issue of immigration and its focus on those who entered the United States illegally is both broad and deep. Opinions are as strong as they are varied. There is no doubt that millions of adults have made a conscious choice to cross over our border outside of legal channels, and they did leave family and culture that they knew to do so.

However, this is not the case for the infants and toddlers that parents have brought here illegally. All the current young adults who have known no other country than ours, may not even speak the language of their parents, have never met anyone in their family from their country of origin and have been formally educated in our local schools are the absolutely defenseless victims of this complex issue.

As Catholics we hear Jesus rebuke the disciples in with the words,  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) These young adults should not be made pawns in the politics of immigration reform in the currently contentious, no-holds-barred political climate in which we are submersed. The DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program has created a suspension of deportation proceedings and temporary employment authorization to work for these undocumented young persons, currently encompassing an estimated 800,000 people (over 200,000 in California).

The current Administration announced this week that DACA is to be  terminated within six months. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), along with the California Catholic Conference (CCC) and Archbishop Gomez (USCCG Vice President) of our Los Angeles  archdiocese have all taken a strong stance against this action, issuing statements of strong support for all immigrants. In Angelus News Archbishop Gomez calls the ending of DACA “a tragedy,” while the USCCB statement says the “cancellation of the DACA program is reprehensible….shows the absence of mercy and good will.” And  further, “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.”

Regardless of your personal immigration stance, please pray for these young people as they face the fear and uncertainty of being sent away from the only home they have ever known. And if you are moved by the Holy Spirit to do so, contact your representatives and senators to find and implement a real solution that offers hope.       

-Erin Lynch


Rhiannon Jensen