By Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration March 15 endorsed the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, which would provide equal protection and a pathway to citizenship for qualifying “Dreamers” and those covered by the Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure programs.
“We need a permanent legislative solution for those who have spent their lives contributing and living in the United States, the country they know as home,” said Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, who is the committee’s chairman.
“Dreamers and TPS holders are vital members of our community who are going to school, working to make our communities better and raising families,” he said in a letter to House members. “They have lived in limbo for far too long and now is the time for a solution.”
The Dreamers are young adults who were brought by their parents to the U.S. illegally as children and remain in the country under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. “Dreamer” comes from the DREAM Act, the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, an earlier bipartisan proposal with several provisions to qualify these young people for permanent residency.
The American Dream and Promise Act, or H.R. 6, was introduced in Congress March 12 and it builds on the DREAM Act, according to its many co-sponsors. It offers qualifying young people “permanent resident status on a conditional basis” and a path to full lawful permanent residency and eventual citizenship.
Additionally, H.R. 6 provides lawful permanent resident status for eligible individuals from countries designated for TPS or DED as of 2016 and who have been living in the U.S. for at least three years.
The American Dream and Promise Act of 2019 also amends current TPS law to require the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to provide a detailed explanation of a decision to terminate a TPS designation, including a report to Congress three days after publishing a notice of such termination.
“My brother bishops and I believe in protecting the dignity of every human being, particularly that of our children and families,” Bishop Vasquez said in his letter. “The Catholic bishops have long supported Dreamers and TPS holders, as well as their families.
“We recognize and admire these individuals as contributors to our economy, academic standouts in our universities, and leaders in our parishes. It is both our moral duty and in our nation’s best interest to protect them and allow them to reach their full God-given potential.”
For these reasons, he said, he was calling on House members to support and co-sponsor H.R. 6 if they have not already done so. He thanked those who were already supporting and/or co-sponsoring the measure.
“We also urge you to continue to work toward the larger legislative reform of our immigration laws that our country so desperately needs,” Bishop Vasquez said adding that the USCCB’s migration committee “stands ready to work with Congress to reform our immigration system in a humane, just and common-sense manner.”