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December 12, 2017

Tell Congress to pass the DREAM Act, Philly Archbishop Chaput pleads

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput is urging Catholics in the region to contact their representatives in Congress and ask them to stop the potential deportations of thousands of young immigrants from the United States.

In his weekly column, Chaput decried some of the ills facing the city – such as hunger, unemployment, housing and education – before turning his attention to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA.

"Meanwhile, our metro area is home to thousands of young adults living in limbo this Advent due to the shutdown of the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program," Chaput wrote. "These persons arrived as children with parents who illegally immigrated. They’ve grown up in the United States knowing no other nation or home."

DACA was implemented in 2012 during the Barack Obama administration. It allows for some unauthorized immigrants who entered the country as minors to remain with renewable two-year permits to work or attend school.

The program was rescinded by Donald Trump's administration in September, jeopardizing the status of about 800,000 so-called "DREAMers." Trump told Congress to replace the program with a new one. 

There are a few bills floating around the House and Senate that would serve as replacements for DACA, but if none are passed before the March 6 deadline, then about 1,000 immigrants could begin to lose their protected status every day.

"Both of our political parties, as well as the White House, sympathize with the plight of these young people," Chaput wrote. "But the devil (or God) is in the details. Good intentions in Washington often founder on partisan bickering."

Chaput specifically urged Philadelphia's parishioners to contact their senators and representatives to tell them to support the DREAM Act, which would offer a pathway to citizenship for children brought in to the country illegally. It's the only legislation that's been introduced in both the House and Senate.

Some Republicans have pushed alternative legislation that would allow DREAMers to remain in the country but also boost border enforcement and other immigration restrictions, but immigration activists have urged Democrats to pass a "clean" DREAM Act without such conditions.

Chaput wrote that the DREAM Act was a "good solution to this significant problem," adding that writing and calling congress is one of the "greatest acts of kindness we can do this Christmas."

"In the end, we’ll be judged by the depth of our faith and how it shaped our lives – or didn’t," he wrote. "It’s a simple truth, but a good one to keep in mind in the remaining days of Advent.”