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Catholic Voice
  September 18, 2017   •   VOL. 55, NO. 16   •   Oakland, CA
Bishop's Column
At left, after recitation of the rosary in English and Spanish, Rev. Francisco Javier Diaz Diaz, SJ, right, celebrates the Mass in Spanish, assisted by Rev. Mr. Arturo Bazan. At right, Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, hold the folder that contains his talk which called for immigration reform.

'Dreamers: The Catholic Church supports you'

Most Rev.
Michael C. Barber, SJ

Folks, I'd like to share the short remarks I made at the Mass and Prayer Vigil in support of the DREAMERS affected by the recent DACA decision by the White House:

I am very saddened by the decision taken recently to end the provisions of the DACA program. I think it is unfair to penalize children who came here with their parents, who form stable and solid families in our community, who have worked hard in school and are now contributing members of our society — to face the fear of sudden deportation.

To the 800,000 young people, DREAMERS, affected by this decision I want to say: "The Catholic Church stands with you. The Catholic Church supports you. The Catholic Church will do everything we can to defend your human rights and your human dignity."

To my brothers and sisters in the Catholic Faith I want to say: Jesus Christ is our model and guide in life. As a child, Jesus was taken by Mary and Joseph to a "foreign country" when they had to flee into Egypt to escape persecution. The Son of God was an immigrant, who obeyed his parents, whose family was welcomed in a "foreign land."

The Church teaches that ALL HUMAN BEINGS ARE CHILDREN OF GOD FIRST. We are made in the image and likeness of God — that gives all of us a dignity that no government can ever take away.

To my fellow Americans, I'd like to say: Many of our family ancestors came to this country as immigrants from overseas. For many, their first view of our country was the Statue of Liberty: a proud symbol of freedom and welcome and opportunity and hope. This is why so many people still want to come here, for the values for which we stand. We must live up to those values.

The one glimmer of hope that comes from the Sept. 5 announcement is that it gives Congress the opportunity to pass legislation that will make the provisions of DACA law. Congress has the duty and responsibility to provide a way for these men, women and children — who are very much a part of our communities — to continue to live their lives as productive and valued members of our country.

I encourage all people of good will to contact their congressional representatives and encourage them to engage in the constructive dialogue necessary to help find a permanent solution so the DREAMERS can continue to stay in our country and live in peace.

There is enough hate-speech and name-calling and finger-pointing and demonizing the "other side" in politics today. Can't we rise above that and work together for the good of the country, to work for the comprehensive immigration reform that our country desperately needs?

The president and Congress are coming together to help the victims of hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Can't we do the same to help the DREAMERS?

• • • • • • • • •

Since I made the above remarks on Sept. 6, I've received some respectful emails from Catholics observing that bishops should encourage citizens to follow the "rule of law" and noting the historic pitfalls that follow in many countries when leaders fail to follow the law. The Catholic bishops of Nebraska issued a good statement on DACA, a portion of which I would like to quote and add my approval:

"While reasonable people may disagree about the nature and scope of former President Barack Obama's executive action that established DACA, we can all agree DACA is not a permanent solution. Our DACA youths' precarious legal and political situation overshadows their daily life and work. Their situation demands a resolution that is befitting of their human dignity.

We call upon our elected officials at the federal level to move forward and find permanent legislative solutions to ensure that DACA youth may remain in the United States, where they may continue to reach their God-given potential. We promise to work with lawmakers from all parties to ensure that DACA youth are able to stay in this country and live in peace.

We acknowledge that addressing immigration policy can be daunting and difficult. It is a task that requires prudent analysis and charitable dialogue. But we are certain there are opportunities to assist and advocate for our DACA youth."

For these reasons, I encourage all of us in the East Bay to encourage our elected representatives to stop postponing the issue of comprehensive immigration reform, and work together to find a permanent solution.

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