I am one of 1300 Catholic educators who have signed a letter to White House Chief of Staff General John F. Kelly urging him to intervene with President Trump to protect DACA. I also participated in a Tuesday press conference with Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso, Texas, other Catholic educators and John Gehring of Faith in Public Life to talk about our commitment to Dreamers and the urgent defense of DACA. Other statements were released today by Washington Archbishop Cardinal Donald Wuerl and a group of interfaith leaders, and also by Mayor Muriel Bowser.
The statement below amplifies Trinity’s position:
Statement on DACA and “Dreamers” at Trinity Washington University
President Patricia McGuire
Trinity proudly enrolls more than 100 students who are “Dreamers” — young women in the College of Arts & Sciences who entered this country as infants and children, brought here by parents desperate to find a new life for their families, a life free from poverty, violence, war and unimaginable oppression. These students are “undocumented” in that they do not have immigration papers. But in all other respects they are as American as any young people who have lived here for many years. We know them as “Dreamers” because they have held fast to the dreams of their parents to achieve better lives through education and economic security. They dream of a day when the United States will treat them with justice and fairness, extending full legal status to them. Because Dreamers are not eligible for federal financial aid, we are especially grateful to generous private benefactors who support their education at Trinity.
In 2012, after years of Congressional stalemate on immigration reform, President Obama took the humane step to create DACA — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — to extend some minimal legal status to undocumented young people. Since then, more than 800,000 Dreamers have received DACA permits to work, get drivers’ licenses, come out of the shadows. Current data shows that 95% are in school or employed, often both at the same time. These young people are often the sole support for their extended families. They pay taxes and contribute to the well-being of their communities.
Trinity’s Dreamers are among our most accomplished students. They are active in student government and campus activities. They are leaders of service initiatives. They excel in many sports and have won academic honors and recognition. They exemplify Trinity’s 120 year-old mission commitments to women’s leadership, to social justice, to academic excellence, to honor and integrity, to service to others. Many other outstanding Trinity students in all academic units are also immigrants or are the children of immigrants. Founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in 1897, Trinity continues a primary mission to women’s education rooted in the social justice teachings of the Catholic faith, teachings shared across many faith traditions.
Government officials at the state and federal level are now threatening DACA; ten state attorneys general are pressuring the Trump Administration to end DACA by next week or face litigation. Such an action would be immoral and unjust, a travesty of the commitment to a “pro-life” agenda that so many public officials who are Catholic or members of other faiths claim as their own. Stripping these young people of the right to work, to support their families, to go to school, to drive, to live openly without fear will bring grievous harm to Dreamers and their families who depend on them, solving not a single problem this nation faces but demonstrating a level of cruelty and insensitivity to human need that would be an appalling for any nation, let alone the United States that historically has been a beacon of hope for oppressed peoples.
We must stand for justice and support the right to lives of dignity and purpose for Dreamers and all immigrants, a principle clearly stated by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and many other faith leaders. The United States would not be the great nation it is today but for the many and still-awesome contributions of immigrants from all nations across many centuries. We insist that our government do the right thing by protecting Dreamers and their families, and at long last taking steps in the right direction to develop a sane, responsible approach to immigration policy. The moral imperative of real justice demands that DACA remain in place until a better solution is enacted into law.
August 30, 2017