While we are still basking in the life and joy of Easter, we think of Christ's dream of unity as he prayed the night before he died "... THAT THEY MAY ALL BE ONE ..." ( John 1 7:21 ...) And now as we reflect on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we remember that he, too, dreamed of unity in his speech about the "BELOVED COMMUNITY."
"Dreamers" of today also come to mind: young people like the 800,000 DACA recipients (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) who live in fear of the shattering of their dreams. On Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the DACA program (which gave them protection from deportation and allowed them to receive work permits) was "being rescinded" by President Donald Trump.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called the decision "reprehensible." "These youth entered the U.S. as minors and often know America as their only home. 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."
We are being led to believe that there is a steady flow of people coming to the U.S. in order to "take advantage of DACA." NOT TRUE! DACA recipients had to have arrived in the U.S. before 2007. This misinformation promotes fear and helps us forget that we are one human family.
Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission stated: "Dreamers are not some abstract category for us. Dreamers are teaching Sunday school. Dreamers are leading door-to-door evangelism efforts in our communities. Dreamers are the ones who are baptizing, the ones who are teaching people to read in our communities.
Dreamers are leading churches in the United States of America. And when we see Dreamers in jeopardy, we see all of us in jeopardy. What hurts one part of the body of Christ hurts all of the body of Christ."
We have many young friends who are DACA recipients who, as JoAnn Gedosh pointed out in her letter, had to each pay $495 and pass a rigorous government background check. Our young friends are studious, hard-working, enthusiastic and grateful for the blessing of living in the United States. We are truly enriched by their presence. Unfortunately, they and their families are now living in fear because the fate of DACA is unknown.
The Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents about 80 percent of the Catholic sisters in the United States, called the rescinding of DACA "unconscionable."
"DACA is a common sense path to stability for families, communities, and local economies and a reaffirmation of American values ... Ending DACA will cause irreparable harm to families and communities and force 800,000 of our young people back into the shadows."
The overwhelming majority of Americans supports a permanent solution for Dreamers that allows them to stay in the US. Our legislators need to hear from us. If you want to be in solidarity with the Dreamers, please call Rep. Steve Womack and Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton at (202) 224-3121 and tell them that our Dreamers must be protected.
Sr. Maria DeAngeli is prioress and social awareness committee leader at St. Scholastica Monastery in Fort Smith. To participate in the Times Record's Community Matters series, email Executive Editor Mardi Taylor, firstname.lastname@example.org.