A Permanent Resolution for the Dreamers

09-17-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

We all probably have a relative or a neighbor whose vocation it is to complain - constantly. They bemoan the state of affairs but never lift a finger to help better things. They quickly get boorish. So, it goes with those who are having a spittle-flecked hissy fit and engaging in extreme self-righteous moral preening over the President’s recent executive order winding down the DACA program. I’m thinking specifically about our congressmen and senators. The President has thrown them the ball, but they seem reluctant to catch it and put some points on the board.

I recently heard Sen. McCain snarl and scoff at how unfair it is to rescind these work visas for the DACA recipients. Along with so many others, he kept chanting how mean and evil Trump is and how this is the worst thing ever to happen in the history of ever. But what he did not say is that the Constitution gives Congress the explicit authority to PERMANENTLY fix this problem and that, as a Senator, he would lead the effort to give the Dreamers permanent legal status. No, he did not say any of that. He seems content to complain about the sad state of affairs.

President Obama issued the executive order after Congress refused to act. He even admitted the order was on shaky legal ground. When he issued DAPA (for the parents of the Dreamers), the Federal Court declared it unconstitutional so it is highly likely that DACA would suffer the same fate. And then what? With the stroke of a pen of a Court order one minute, the Dreamers have legal status and then puff, they lose it. Just like with marriage, one minute it’s man and woman, and then the next minute, it’s not. What President Obama did was “defer” their deportation. Defer means to put off to some future point. That could be a Court Order or another President rescinding the Order. If Caesar can give, Caesar can take away.

So even though the Dreamers had legal status, it was temporary which means they were never on stable ground. Now the Congress has the chance to put them on stable ground. So if you are upset over what the President did, stop complaining and DO SOMETHING. Call your Congress person or our two Senators; send them an email; post them a letter; visit their local offices, and do it repeatedly until they take action and fix this.

Lots of people both inside and outside the Church have been quoting Old Testament scripture about the treatment of the immigrant and, of course, what would Jesus do? (It would be nice if they actually read the Catechism which gives the official teaching on this issue in #2241) There is lots of self-riotousness going around. There are even calls from religious leaders to break the law to help the Dreamers avoid deportation. I wonder if these same people are willing to break the law to save innocent unborn babies in the womb from “deportation from their mother’s womb?”  Probably not. The reason for that is that does not score them any political points. You see, what is truly immoral is to use people, in this case the Dreamers, as political pawns to score points or to demonstrate how much you ooze compassion, and everyone else doesn't.

And that is the real issue here. So many in our political and religious class are content to use the legal status of a person to score political points. No one really wants to fix the overall problem because then they couldn't use the issue to beat up those who disagree with them. Rather than fix the problem, they use human beings to further their agendas. That is immoral.

What is truly “reprehensible” is sitting around bemoaning the awful state of affairs and taking no action. Now is the time to engage the democratic process and push hard for a permanent resolution for the Dreamers.

Love, Fr. John B.

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