Our country’s immigration system is broken. In recent years all reasonable attempts to fix it have been turned aside. On June 23rd the divided Supreme Court prevented the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and implementation of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) that had been proposed by the current administration.
Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, chair of the Committee on Migration of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, reacted to the decision, saying, “This means millions of families will continue to live in fear of deportation and without the immediate ability to improve their lives through education and good jobs. Comprehensive immigration reform is necessary. We need to bring people out of the shadows. We should not separate families. People do not cease to be our brothers and sisters just because they have an irregular immigration status. No matter how they got here, we cannot lose sight of their humanity — without losing our own.”
Without losing our own humanity! Yes! These words resonate in me. My humanity has been enriched by Irma, Maribel, Victor, Verónica, Mayra, José, Guadalupe, San Juana, Bernardo…I could go on and on with the litany of names, people I know who live in the shadows. Behind each name a person, a story, a dream, a hope. Families who have invested in this country. Children in school, doing well, playing sports, playing in the school orchestra, dreaming of college. Children who wake up every morning wondering if this is the day a parent will be stopped and deported. Parents who own their homes, pay their taxes, go to work every day. Families with whom I worship on Sunday. Individuals I am proud to number among my friends.
I agree with Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, and Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso, Texas, who said, “The scandal of a broken system that criminalizes and scapegoats immigrants who fight for a better life for their children and families that contribute every day to our economy and communities is laid bare once again by the decision of the Supreme Court.”
What can I do? I wish I knew the steps that would lead to action. For now, I pray, continue the conversation, offer support to my immigrant friends, write letters to government representatives. And I wish that all of you could meet my friends…Irma, Maribel, Victor, Verónica, Mayra, José, Guadalupe, San Juana, Bernardo and more…hear their stories, and let them touch your hearts, too!
(For more information, visit Justice for Immigrants, sponsored by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.)