Immigrants, advocates navigating post-DACA-deadline landscape

By Mark Pattison
WASHINGTON (CNS) – The last government shutdown – well, threatened shutdown, anyway – seems so long ago.
The nine-hour “funding lapse” of Feb. 9, like the three-day shutdown that began Jan. 20, hinged on how Congress was going to address the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that President Donald Trump said he would end March 5. He also called on Congress to pass a measure to save the program, created in 2012 by President Barack Obama via executive order.
In the January shutdown, Democratic lawmakers backed down on their threat to keep the government closed until a DACA deal was reached. In the February funding lapse, Democrats and Republicans agreed to conduct a debate and vote on DACA in the weeks to come, as a six-week continuing resolution to keep the government funded through March 23 was overshadowed by the $1 trillion spending package of which it was a part.
The congressional sidestepping of DACA prompted the U.S. bishops to declare a “National Call-In Day to Protect Dreamers” for Feb. 26, one week before the program’s expiration date. The day resulted in thousands of phone calls to lawmakers.
That, in turn, was overshadowed by the Supreme Court declining that same day a request by the administration to bypass federal appellate courts and rule on whether the administration has the right to shut down DACA.
The justices’ action wiped out the March 5 deadline date, leaving DACA up and running at least until the high court accepts the case for the appeals court – and possibly renders a decision – or until Congress finally deals with it. The high court’s action only keeps DACA intact for those currently with DACA status; two federal judges have blocked Trump, saying the administration must continue to accept renewal applications for the program. The rulings do not make DACA available to those who had not already applied for it.
While the exact path ahead is unclear, at least there is a path.
“I think a lot of people feel a little insecure, they don’t feel safe and they’re unsure what’s going to happen because things are up in the air,” said Michelle Sardone, director of strategic initiatives for the Catholic Legal Immigration Network.
“They’re feeling fear about whether or not to apply: ‘Will the government use information they have on me to use against me?’ If you submit your application with the application fee, will it be adjudicated or … will it be a waste of your money?” Sardone said. “Each person has a particular case. They should go to an accredited legal services provider to find out the best situation for them and for their family.”
“We just buried a man in his 60s who came from Ireland in a house with no electricity, no plumbing. He came over to the U.S. without a trade, became a pipe fitter and a coach,” said Mary Harkenrider, a member of the Southside Catholic Peace and Justice Committee in Chicago, which sponsored a forum March 1 to show support for the city’s DACA holders.
In talking to Catholic News Service, she used the example of this Irishman to illustrate what immigrants bring to this country.
“As a coach and a family man, he affected people throughout the city and across the country and at his funeral there were thousands of people who pay respect to this immigrant, who came to this country without a STEM education or highly advanced skills,” Harkenrider added. 
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Some arguing for the reform of U.S. immigration laws say preference should be given to the highly educated immigrants.
She added: “We would be amiss without the talents of the immigrants in our communities. … whether it’s the Irish or the Polish or the Hispanic. I think we have to continue to recognize our history and build on it.”
Chicago, Harkenrider said, is “a city of immigrants.”
Nor is Chicago the only town that can claim that mantle. Camden, New Jersey, is such a town. Mexican-born Monica Perez Reyes, 20, has lived there since her parents brought her to the United States at age two. They entered the country without legal documents. She has kid sisters born in the United States who are U.S. citizens. As for Perez, “I’m good for two years” with DACA.
She admits to frustration with Congress, though. “I’m kind of offended. They’re sort of playing around with my future,” she said. “And the manner they’re handling it, one day they may say they’ll do something to make it better like have a path to citizens, ship, but the next day they say they’re going to terminate it altogether.”
Perez added, “I know some people are scared, but I’m not necessarily scared unless something is set in stone. I have a plan A, a plan B, a plan C. If worse comes to worst, I have a plan; I’ll have to go to Mexico and make my new life there.”
She was accepted to study art at a California college, but her status as an immigrant without documents left her ineligible to receive scholarship money. So Perez is attending community college in Camden while planning to major in art therapy, working to make money to pay her tuition.

Activists and recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA program, march up Broadway in New York City Feb. 15 during the start of their “Walk to Stay Home,” a five-day 250-mile walk from New York to Washington to demand that Congress pass a clean DREAM Act to save the program. (CNS photo/Shannon Stapleton, Reuters) See SCOTUS-DACA and DACA-CALL-IN-ADVOCATES Feb. 26, 2018.

Another such town of immigrants is Pasadena, Maryland. Hector Guzman, 19, also born in Mexico, was brought here by his parents, he said, when he was a year old. A soccer goalie and midfielder, a German scout recommended he go to England to try out for professional soccer there. He had to decline. “I could get there on my Mexican passport, but I couldn’t come back,” he said.
Guzman has his own plan B. Like Perez’s, it involves going to a community college and working as a butcher and chef to pay tuition. He’ll add landscaping work as the weather warms. He’s starting up a small business already. At some point, he said, he’d like to open a restaurant, maybe several of them, “and maybe have a ranch or a farm.” He said the DACA process was easy.
Patricia Zapor, a CLINIC spokeswoman, said a January check of DACA applications showed the government was still processing applications from 2016. Renewals ordinarily took two to three months; Zapor said without DACA, immigrants in the country without legal permission cannot legally work in the United States.
Guzman said he’s not worried. “My parents are a little worried,” he said. An older sister, who like him has DACA status, “doesn’t act like she’s worried,” he added.
With the days winding down until Trump’s original March 5 deadline, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said the upper chamber would debate a banking bill in early March, making no mention of DACA – deferred action, indeed.
How to deal with this interim period is “tricky, right?” said Ian Pajer-Rogers, communications and political director for Interfaith Worker Justice, which has more than 30 affiliated worker centers around the country.
“We have taken the position that only a clean DREAM Act will do with no riders or add-ons from the right – no wall, no border security measures. We’ll continue that. Where that leaves us with the party in power and the party that is trying to negotiate for our people, the Democrats, is less clear.” 
The DREAM Act he referred to stands for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act. The bill is what gives DACA recipients the “Dreamer” name.
Anxiety among DACA families cuts both ways, he said. “What I’ve seen among the undocumented folks is a very willingness to self-sacrifice. Among the DACA recipients I’ve worked with they don’t want to trade their parents’ safety and security for their own. … I think you find the parents who are willing to say the opposite, almost. They’re willing to see more enforcement and risk detention if their kids are safe. We’re really going for the starting point that all are protected.”
“The more pressing thing might be the (Feb. 26) Supreme Court ruling,” Pajer-Rogers said, “that folks who are in detention can be detained indefinitely without bond. So if there’s something on the mind of workers today, it’s probably that.”

Advocates decry Homeland Security’s TPS decision for Nicaraguans

By Dennis Sadowski
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Immigration advocates decried a Department of Homeland Security decision to end Temporary Protected Status for 2,500 Nicaraguans who have been living in the United States for nearly 20 years.
They also lamented during a call with reporters Nov. 7 that Elaine Duke, acting secretary of Homeland Security, put off a decision on TPS for 57,000 Hondurans for six months, saying more time was needed to determine if they could remain in the U.S. because of adverse social and economic conditions in their homeland.
Randolph P. McGrorty, executive director of Catholic Legal Services in the Archdiocese of Miami, said U.S. law is meant to be implemented “with a certain degree of kindness and compassion,” and that sending people to countries that are ill-prepared to welcome them would do far more harm than good.
He called on policymakers in Congress and the administration of President Donald Trump to recognize that Nicaraguans, Hondurans and other TPS holders are vibrant members of their parishes, neighborhoods and workplaces.
“I think they deserve to have some sense of belonging,” he said.
Rather than ending TPS, the advocates from an array of agencies said, it was time for Congress to develop a legislative plan to allow Nicaraguans, Hondurans and others to remain in the U.S. permanently in the name of family unity and because they play vital roles in building American society.
They called for TPS to be extended at 18-month intervals, as the current law requires, until Congress hammers out a legal fix.

A woman holds a child during an immigration rally near the U.S. Capitol in Washington Sept. 26. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

The TPS designation is for those who have come to the U.S. from certain countries because of a natural disaster, continuing armed conflict, criminal violence or other extraordinary conditions. It authorizes employment and protection from deportation for about 320,000 people from 10 countries.
On Nov. 6, Duke discontinued TPS for Nicaraguans, delaying the effective date for them to leave the country until Jan. 5, 2019. Duke also announced the automatic extension for six months of TPS for Hondurans, explaining that further study was needed on conditions in the northern Central American country. She set a new expiration date of July 5.
Royce Murray, policy director at the American Immigration Council, said that Duke’s decision indicates that the administration is “struggling with the seriousness of the conditions and complicated situation” in Central America’s so-called Northern Triangle, which includes Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
The advocates also pointed to decisions due in several weeks from homeland security on TPS for people from El Salvador and Haiti, calling on Duke to extend protections without delay.
Belinda Osario, a native of Honduras who works as a housekeeper at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, told reporters that living her life in six-month increments waiting for a decision on TPS was “like a torture.”
“They’re putting us in limbo. That’s unfair,” she said of Homeland Security officials.
Osario added that should would resist returning to her homeland because she had made a life with her family in the U.S. She said she did not want her 14-year-old son to be subject to gang recruitment and threats of violence if he were suddenly forced to live in a country that would be foreign to him.
“I’m not leaving. No matter what, I’m not leaving” said Osario, who has been in the U.S. for 26 years, the last 19 as a TPS holder. “My hope is they change the legislation to make this a permanent thing for all the TPS recipients.”
Some advocates on the call expressed concern that ending TPS would pose a threat to national security because the countries in question were ill-prepared to accept tens of thousands of returnees.
Governments already stretched to adequately protect their citizens are unlikely to be able to assist people in their return, possibly leading to destabilization that could spill across borders, said Oscar Chacon, executive director of Alianza Americas.
“Congress has an opportunity to fix something,” he said. “We need to recognize that these communities have become a permanent part of our community.”
Duke’s decisions also drew criticism from the Catholic Legal Immigration Network. Jean Atkinson, CLINIC executive director, said in a statement Nov. 7 that the decision on Nicaraguans “is a cruel and ultimately short-sighted action.”
She said the lives of thousands of Nicaraguan families who “help make the United States vibrant” would be disrupted and that both the U.S. and Nicaragua would be harmed.
Bishop Kevin W. Vann of Orange, California, a member of CLINIC’s board of directors, added in the statement that American society is responsible for protecting all members of the human family and that “means TPS should not be revoked until safe return and reintegration can be assured.”

(Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski.)

Parish calendar of events


BROOKSVILLE Dwelling Place Retreat Center, “Praying Scripture through Lectio Divina,” an ancient practice of reading and praying Scripture, November 10-11, begins with 6:30 p.m. supper. There will be group time and periods of silence. Presenters: Mary Louise Jones and Claudia Addison. They facilitate a Lectio group at St. Richard. Donation: $180. Details: (662) 738-5348 or
CULLMAN, Ala., Benedictine Sisters Retreat Center, Intensive Centering Prayer Weekend, November 10-12. Develop further the discipline of Centering Prayer and deepening your relationship with God. Prerequisite: Introduction to Centering Prayer. Cost: Private room $245. Details: contact Sister Magdalena Craig, OSB at (256) 615-6114,
LAFAYETTE Louisiana, Holy Spirit Women’s Retreat, January 26-28, 2018, Dr. Mary Healy and Father Bill Henry will be featured at the annual Holy Spirit Women’s Retreat at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Lafayette, LA. The theme is “Gather in Upper Room with Mary.” There will also be a Life in the Spirit Seminar presented by Deacon Larry Oney, his wife Andi, and the CCRNO Team. Patti Mansfield will also be featured. This retreat is sponsored by the Catholic Charismatic Renewal of New Orleans (CCRNO) and serves hundreds of women from throughout the Gulf South. Weekend and Saturday commuters are welcome. Register online at or call (504) 828-1368.


AMORY St. Helen, Parish Christmas dinner for all adults, Saturday, December 9. Annual celebration and honoring of grandparents will be at Mass on Sunday, December 10. Details: church office (662) 256-8392.
BROOKHAVEN St. Francis of Assisi, Knights of Columbus spaghetti dinner, Thursday, November 16, 11:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. Pick up or dine in, Serio Hall. Cost: $9.00 per plate. Local delivery for six or more plates. Details: church office (601) 833-179.
CLEVELAND Our Lady of Victories, Angel Tree. Outreach committee invites all to take part in this benefit for needy families for Christmas. During Advent, the tree with names and needs will be set up in the church entry. Details: church office (662) 846-6273.
GRENADA St. Peter, Couples Gathering beginning monthly in January, possibly on Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. rotating houses where the meeting is held. We will start with a book study on “Climbing the Mountain,” one of the Lay Apostle books. Books will have to be ordered by Dec 1. Details: Annette Tipton (662) 226-2490.
JACKSON St. Richard, Father Edward “Monk” Malloy, C.S.C., will speak December 8-9 in Glynn Hall on “Christian Perspectives on War and Peace.” Father Malloy served as the 16th president of the University of Notre Dame from 1987 to 2005. He now serves as President Emeritus and is a full professor in the Department of Theology. Details: church office (601) 366-2335.
LELAND St. James, Benefit Fish Fry for James “Jamie” Rutland, Jr., Thursday, November 16 from 5-7 p.m. at the parish hall. Cost: $10 per plate. Donations may be mailed to the church or dropped off at the church office. Details: church office (662) 686-7352.
MADISON St. Francis of Assisi, High School seniors are invited to take a Bible Break every Wednesday at 6 p.m. at M7 Coffee House in Ridgeland. Seniors are also invited to choose WOW on Wednesdays 6:30 – 8 p.m. Details: church office (601) 856-5556.
– St. Anthony School, 9th annual Starry Night Gala, Saturday, December 9, 7-11 p.m. Live music, live and silent auctions, raffles, food. Details: Jennifer Schmidt, (601) 214-9656 or
MERIDIAN St. Patrick, 20th Annual Musical and Variety Show, fashion show and dinner, Saturday, November 18, 6 p.m. Tickets: Reserved seating, $20; Adults open seating, $10 and children through high school, $5. Proceeds benefit St. Patrick School. Tickets available in the parish office or school office. Details: Dan Santiago (601) 917-7364 and Mary Yarger (601) 482-6044 for reserved tickets.
NATCHEZ St. Mary Basilica, Parish Blood Drive, Tuesday, November 28, 12-5:30 p.m. at the O’Connor Family Life Center, Details: Regina Mardis at church office (601) 445-5616; Susan Nielsen (504) 258-6940 or online sign-up at
PEARL St. Jude, Women’s Retreat, Saturday, November 18, 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. “Spirituality for our Everyday Lives.” Retreat Leader: Father Lincoln Dall. Snacks and lunch will be provided. Sign-up sheets after Masses. Details: call Kelly at the church office (601) 939-3181.
YAZOO CITY St. Mary, History and implementation of the RCIA catechist certification class begins Tuesday, November 14, in the Parish Office from 12:30 – 2:30 p.m. Details: church office (662) 746-1680.


A caption in the Oct. 27 Mississippi Catholic incorrectly identified a speaker at the diocesan Encuentro. Seminarian César Sánchez Fermín was leading the presentation in the photo. We apologize for the error.

Líderes católicos critican decisión de Trump de terminar DACA

Por Kurt Jensen
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Líderes de la Iglesia Católica, funcionarios de inmigración y presidentes universitarios condenaron el 5 de septiembre la decisión del presidente Donald Trump de eliminar el programa de Acción Diferida para los Llegados en la Infancia (DACA).
“El presidente declaró en el pasado que la historia de los dreamers ‘tiene que ver con el corazón,’ sin embargo (la) decisión no se queda corta de ser cruel,” dijo el cardenal Blase J. Cupich de Chicago. “Los dreamers ahora están en limbo por seis meses, durante el cual se supone que el Congreso apruebe una reforma integral de inmigración, algo que no ha podido lograr durante una década”, él dijo.
El fin del programa DACA, anunciado por el fiscal general Jeff Sessions, coloca a unos 800,000 inmigrantes indocumentados, muchos quienes vinieron a Estados Unidos cuando eran niños pequeños y no han conocido otro lugar, bajo amenaza de deportación y de perder permisos de trabajo. De agosto a diciembre, según el Departamento de Seguridad Nacional, los permisos de trabajo de más de 200,000 participantes en el programa DACA caducarán y solamente 55,258 han presentado peticiones de renovación.
La decisión de terminar el programa DACA es decepcionante, dijo Jeanne Atkinson, directora ejecutiva de la Red Católica de Inmigración Legal. Ella también dijo que su organización rechaza la “opinión” del fiscal Sessions quien dice que el programa DACA es “inconstitucional”.
“Los estadounidenses nunca han sido gente que castigan a los niños por los errores de sus padres. Tengo la esperanza de que no vamos a comenzar ahora”, dijo el arzobispo José H. Gómez de Los Ángeles, presidente del Comité sobre Migración de la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de Estados Unidos (USCCB). “No creo que esta decisión represente lo mejor de nuestro espíritu nacional ni el consenso del pueblo estadounidense. Esta decisión refleja solamente la polarización de nuestro momento político”.

ASHINGTON – Rosa Martínez, activista de inmigración y receptora del programa, conocida como DACA, participa en una manifestación el 12 de septiembre en Washington instando al Congreso a aprobar la Ley DREAM. Después, los asistentes fueron al Capitalolio para entregar un millón de firmas al Congreso. (Foto CNS / Joshua Roberts, Reuters)

El cardenal Daniel N. DiNardo de Galveston-Houston, presidente de la conferencia episcopal de obispos, dijo en un comunicado con otros líderes de la conferencia episcopal que la Iglesia Católica durante mucho tiempo ha observado con orgullo y admiración cómo los jóvenes del programa DACA viven con esperanza y determinación para prosperar y contribuir a la sociedad, continuando su trabajo y contribuyendo para el bienestar de sus familias, “continuando sirviendo en la milicia y continuando recibiendo una educación. Ahora, después de meses de ansiedad y temor por su futuro, estos jóvenes valientes enfrentan la deportación. Esta decisión es inaceptable y no refleja quiénes somos como estadounidenses”.
El cardenal Joseph W. Tobin de Newark, Nueva Jersey, dijo que los que tomaron la decisión, no pueden esconderse detrás de ciertos términos, para justificar lo que han hecho. El cardenal, en un comunicado, dijo que la decisión era “un abandono de la humanidad, un abandono de jóvenes talentosos y esperanzados que son tan estadounidenses como usted y yo”.
La hermana religiosa Aine O’Connor, de las Hermanas de la Misericordia que se paró frente a la Casa Blanca mientras se anunciaba la decisión, también dijo que no estaba de acuerdo con los comentarios del fiscal Sessions cuando dijo que se trataba de una cuestión legal. Ella dijo a Catholic News Service que la decisión fue “una abdicación de responsabilidad por el gobierno de Trump”.
Los planes futuros para su grupo incluyen influenciar a miembros de Congreso y mostrarles “la causa radical de la inmigración, que incluye las políticas estadounidenses que destruyen la estabilidad económica de otros países”.
El comunicado de la Red Franciscana de Acción, con sede en Washington, comparó Trump a Poncio Pilato: “Como Pilato, el presidente Trump ha intentado lavarse las manos de la responsabilidad cuando pudo y debió mantener activo el programa DACA. Dios le ordena a su pueblo cuidar del inmigrante y tratarlo ‘como uno de sus compatriotas'”. (Levítico 19:34)
La Red Ignaciana de Solidaridad, con sede en Ohio, acusó a Trump de debilitar “la dignidad de individuos indocumentados,” y dijo: “Como gente de fe estamos llamados a estar con los que han sido marginados por un sistema de inmigración descompuesto y a reconocer los dones y talentos que estos jóvenes traen a nuestras comunidades”.
John J. DeGioia, presidente de la universidad Georgetown en Washington, dijo en un comunicado en su página de Facebook que de parte de Georgetown quería enfatizar su “fuerte apoyo a todos nuestros estudiantes indocumentados. Como nación tenemos la capacidad y la responsabilidad de trabajar juntos para proveer una solución legislativa permanente para asegurar la seguridad y el bienestar de estos jóvenes que han contribuido y contribuirán al futuro de nuestro país de maneras profundamente significativas”.
Amelia McGowan, directora del Centro de Recursos para Migrantes de las Caridades Católicas de Jackson, dijo que su oficina todavía está trabajando en casos y renovaciones de DACA. “Seguimos comprometidos a apoyar a nuestros clientes con DACA”, dijo McGowan. Ella instó a la calma para las personas en el programa. “Entendemos que hay cierta incertidumbre, queremos seguir siendo un recurso para todos en la comunidad. Puede haber otras opciones de inmigración para aquellos que buscan DACA. Queremos seguir siendo un recurso para ellos,” agregó.
Obispo Joseph Kopacz de la Diócesis de Jackson repitió su apoyo del programa. “Aquí en Mississippi, no podemos ignorar las contribuciones que los inmigrantes hacen a nuestra cultura y a nuestra economía. Nuestros vecinos de otras naciones han estado aquí por tanto tiempo, han establecido raíces en la tierra. Están criando familias y trabajando para fortalecer nuestro estado en muchas maneras. Es el momento de buscar una solución justa y razonable a la cuestión de la inmigración. Escritura nos enseña a ‘dar la bienvenida al extranjero,’ y atender a las personas en los márgenes. Como católicos, vamos a estar con los inmigrantes y apoyar sus esfuerzos para convertirse en ciudadanos,” dijo el obispo.

Bishop pens letter to support Migrant Support Center

(Editor’s note: Bishop Joseph Kopacz used the recent developments surrounding DACA to call attention to the Catholic Charities’ Migrant Support Center. The following is an excerpt of a letter sent along with some case studies to supporters describing the work of the center.)
The Migrant Support Center is providing critical services to the immigrant and migrant populations who have pressing needs as recent arrivals, or as long standing residents. Now more than ever in an openly hostile and suspicious climate throughout our nation, this population requires the social services and legal expertise of our staff. The documented and undocumented immigrants often do not know their rights, and our team of two lawyers and interns work tirelessly to defend their causes in court, while at the same time providing education and information programs throughout our diocese. This is a formidable task, because the Catholic Diocese of Jackson is the largest east of the Mississippi River, a territory of 38,000 square miles. In addition, often they receive calls for other social services and the staff directs these clients to the appropriate programs.
I thank you for considering the request from our Migrant Support Center Staff to assist them in the work they do with vulnerable immigrant and migrant populations. May the living God continue to prosper the work you do on behalf of those in need.
When large numbers of unaccompanied immigrant children, primarily from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, sought refuge in the United States beginning in 2013, His Holiness, Pope Francis, said, “This humanitarian emergency requires, as a first urgent measure, these children be welcomed and protected.” At the Catholic Charities, Inc., Migrant Support Center, we take up the Holy Father’s call to arms.
It is our agency’s mission “to be a visible sign of Christ’s love by helping the vulnerable and those in need, especially children, women, and families.” At the Migrant Support Center, we defend migrants of all backgrounds, focusing on those central to our mission. These clients range from survivors of domestic violence working to build new lives for themselves and their families, to Venezuelan families fleeing persecution based on their political opinions, and to unaccompanied minors from Central America seeking safety in the United States from societal and family violence.
These unaccompanied children are our most vulnerable clients, as many have already suffered extensive harm in their home countries despite their tender age, and undertook the perilous journey from their home countries to the United States all alone. U.S. immigration law provides certain legal remedies to children who are fleeing persecution, or have been abused, neglected or abandoned by their parents; however, applying for these remedies involves several complicated steps, often while facing an Immigration Judge in adversarial court proceedings. Children who are unable to afford counsel or find free legal assistance must face these proceedings alone, meaning an almost certain return to the dangers from which they fled.
For such children in Mississippi, few legal resources exist, especially for children who are unable to pay the hefty legal fees for private attorneys, which can easily exceed $5,000. Therefore, the Migrant Support Center is working diligently to ensure that all unaccompanied Mississippi children in need have quality pro bono immigration representation, protecting their rights to due process and helping them create new lives of healing and freedom in the United States.
Such is the case of Julio, an indigenous Guatemalan teenager who fled his native country as an unaccompanied minor after his town’s mayor forcibly recruited him to take up arms against a foreign mining company that was excavating in his area. Of great importance was the fact that the Guatemalan government recruited foreign mining companies to excavate traditionally indigenous lands (such as Julio’s town), preventing indigenous communities from enjoying and cultivating the land and its resources, and deepening the historic rift between indigenous Guatemalans and the federal government.
During one skirmish, a miner slashed Julio’s arm with a machete, leaving him physically and emotionally scarred. Neither Julio nor his friends could seek help from the Guatemalan government, as federal troops provided support to the mining companies. With the assistance of Catholic Charities and our partners at the Immigration Clinic of Mississippi College School of Law, Julio now has asylum and is enjoying his new-found freedom in the United States.
The Migrant Support Center also represented four young Honduran siblings, the Garcias, who fled Honduras after being physically, emotionally, and sexually abused and later abandoned by their father. Migrant Support Center attorneys represented the children in state court proceedings to ensure they had appropriate protection in their new home, and secured Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and Lawful Permanent Residence (green cards) for the children on the basis of the trauma they suffered in Honduras. The children are now attending school, making friends, learning English, and receiving counseling services in their new home.
Through your generous support, the Migrant Support Center can ensure that all immigrant children in Mississippi receive the warm welcome and protection that Pope Francis requires. Your donation will not only ensure that Catholic Charities can continue representing unaccompanied children such as Julio and the Garcia children on a pro bono basis, but it will also assist Migrant Support Center attorneys in recruiting, training, and mentoring a strong network private practitioners to defend immigrant children as well.

Catholic leaders sharply criticize Trump’s decision to end DACA

By Kurt Jensen
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Catholic church leaders, immigration officials and university presidents were swift and unanimous in their condemnation of President Donald Trump’s Sept. 5 decision to phase out Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals known as DACA.
“In the past, the president stated that the Dreamer story ‘is about the heart,’ yet (the) decision is nothing short of heartless,” said Chicago Cardinal Blase J. Cupich. “The Dreamers are now left in a six-month limbo, during which Congress is supposed to pass comprehensive immigration reform, a feat they have been unable to achieve for a decade,” he said in a Sept. 5 statement.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals supporters demonstrate near the White House in Washington Sept. 5. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Sept. 5 that the DACA program is “being rescinded” by President Donald Trump, leaving some 800,000 youth, brought illegally to the U.S. as minors, in peril of deportation and of losing permits that allow them to work. (CNS photo/Kevin Lamarque, Reuters)

The rescission of DACA, announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, places an estimated 800,000 undocumented immigrants, many of whom were brought to the United States as young children and have known no other home, under threat of deportation and losing permits that allow them to work. President Trump later tweeted that he was depending on congress to take action in that time and then hinted that he may re-visit DACA if no plan is passed by then. From August through December, according to the Department of Homeland Security, the work permits of more than 200,000 DACA recipients will expire and only 55,258 have submitted requests for permit renewals.
Amelia McGowan, the program director for Catholic Charities of Jackson’s Migrant Resource Center, said her office is still working on DACA cases and renewals. “We remain committed to to supporting our clients with DACA,” said McGowan. She urged calm for those in the program. “We understand there is some uncertainty. We want to remain a resource for everyon in the community with questions. There may be other immigration options for those seeking DACA, so we want to remain a resource for them,” she added.
Bishop Joseph Kopacz of the Diocese of Jackson echoed his support of the program. “Here in Mississippi, we cannot ignore the contributions immigrants make to our culture and our economy. Our neighbors from other nations have now been here so long, they have set roots in the soil. They are raising families and working to strengthen our state in many ways. It is time to seek a just and reasonable solution to the issue of immigration. Scripture instructs us to ‘welcome the stranger,’ and care for those on the margins. As Catholics, we will stand with immigrants and support their efforts to become citizens,” said the bishop.
The decision to end DACA is “a heartbreaking disappointment,” said Jeanne Atkinson, executive director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network. She also said her organization rejects and adamantly disagrees with Sessions’ “untested personal opinion that DACA is unconstitutional.”
“Americans have never been a people who punish children for the mistakes of their parents. I am hopeful that we will not begin now,” said Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration. “I do not believe this decision represents the best of our national spirit or the consensus of the American people. This decision reflects only the polarization of our political moment.”
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the USCCB, said in a statement with other USCCB leaders: “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.”
Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, called the decision “malicious.”
“One can’t hide behind the term ‘legality’ in rescinding DACA,” his statement added. “That is an abandonment of humanity, and abandonment of talented and hopeful young people who are as American as you and I.”
Mercy Sister Aine O’Connor, who stood in front of the White House as the decision was announced, also took issue with Sessions’ remark: “Nothing is compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration laws.”
“We do not see it as a compassionate act. It is a merciless act,” Sister O’Connor told Catholic News Service, adding that it was “an abdication of responsibility by the Trump administration.”
Future plans for her group include lobbying members of Congress to show “the root cause of immigration, which includes American policies that destroy economic stability in other countries.”
The Washington-based Franciscan Action Network’s statement compared Trump to Pontius Pilate: “Like Pilate, President Trump has tried to wash his hands of responsibility when he could have and should have kept DACA in place. God commands his people to care for immigrants and treat them ‘no differently than the natives born among you.'” (Lv 19:34)
The Ohio-based Ignatian Solidarity Network accused Trump of undermining “the dignity of undocumented individuals,” adding, “As people of faith, we are called to uphold the inherent dignity of our immigrant brothers and sisters, to stand with those marginalized by a broken immigration system, and to recognize the gifts and talents that these young people bring to our communities.”
Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia, in a statement on his Facebook page, said he wanted to emphasize Georgetown’s “strongest support for all of our undocumented students. As a nation, we have the capacity and responsibility to work together to provide a permanent legislative solution to ensure the safety and well-being of these young women and men who have – and will – contribute to the future of our country in deeply meaningful ways.”