LINCOLN (SNR/NCC) – Nebraska’s three Catholic bishops issued a joint statement of support for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) youth also known as DREAMers.
In their Aug. 31 letter, Archbishop George J. Lucas of the Archdiocese of Omaha, Bishop James D. Conley of the Diocese of Lincoln, and Bishop Joseph G. Hanefeldt of the Diocese of Grand Island call upon federal lawmakers to find permanent legislative solutions for DACA youth who face a precarious legal and political situation.
“DACA youth have become contributors to our economy, veterans of our military, academic standouts in our universities, and leaders in our parishes,” the bishops wrote.
Since the implementation of DACA in 2012 through an executive action by President Barack Obama, more than 3,000 Nebraska youth, and approximately 800,000 youth nation-wide, have applied for and received the temporary legal protections of DACA. While DACA does not provide lawful immigrant status, it does provide children of illegal immigrants with a temporary reprieve from deportation, and employment authorization for legal work opportunities in the United States.
To qualify for DACA, which provides temporary work permits and lawful presence under federal immigration law, applicants must undergo background checks, pay fees, and meet certain education or military guidelines.
The bishops recognize that while “reasonable people may disagree about the nature and scope” of President Obama’s executive action to establish DACA, they stress the critical need for federal lawmakers to seek paths forward that establish permanent legislative solutions that are “befitting of the human dignity” of DACA youth and allow DREAMers “to reach their God-given potential” in the country and communities they call home.
The bishops acknowledge that addressing immigration policy can be “daunting and difficult,” yet express confidence that permanent legislative solutions can be established for DACA youth.
“To the DACA youth here in Nebraska, please know that the Catholic Church stands in solidarity with you,” the bishops promised. “It is our desire to accompany you in the anxieties and fears you face through this journey.”
The Nebraska Catholic Conference (NCC) is a statewide association operated jointly by the Archdiocese of Omaha, Diocese of Lincoln, and Diocese of Grand Island. Located in Lincoln,
the NCC represents the mutual public policy interests of Nebraska’s three Roman Catholic bishops before the Nebraska legislature, the Nebraska delegation in Congress, and state agencies.
The public policy issues addressed by the NCC include institutional concerns of the Catholic Church as well as issues related to Catholic moral and social teaching, human dignity, and the common good.