I write on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration (USCCB/COM) to urge you to support S. 874 the “Dream Act of 2019.” This bipartisan legislation, introduced on March 26, 2019 by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Richard Durbin (D-IL), would protect numerous immigrant youth from deportation, including the approximately 700,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.
The Dream Act is intended to protect immigrant youth who entered the United States as children and know America as their only home. The bill offers qualifying immigrant youth “conditional permanent resident status” and a path to full lawful permanent residency and eventual citizenship. In order to receive the conditional status, the youth must, among other requirements, have entered the U.S. as a child, been continuously present in the United States for at least four years prior to enactment of the bill, meet certain admissibility and security requirements, and have obtained or be pursuing secondary education. Current DACA recipients are also deemed eligible for the conditional status. S.874 allows recipients of this conditional status to obtain non-conditional lawful permanent residency if they satisfy requirements that include: background checks; demonstrated English proficiency; and either education in a higher learning institution, honorable military service, three years of employment in the United States, or a hardship exception.
My brother bishops and I believe in protecting the dignity of every human being, particularly that of our children. The Catholic Bishops have long supported these immigrant youth and their families who are contributors to our economy, academic standouts in our universities, and leaders in our parishes. These youth have grown up in our country, some even choosing to put their lives on the line to serve in our armed forces. They truly exemplify the extraordinary contributions that immigrants can provide to our nation. It is both our moral duty and, in our nation’s best interest to protect these youth and allow them to reach their God-given potential.
For these reasons, we ask you to support and co-sponsor the Dream Act of 2019. We also urge you to continue to work towards the larger legislative reform of our immigration laws that our country so desperately needs. As always, USCCB/COM stands ready to work with Congress to reform our immigration system in a humane, just, and common-sense manner.
Most Rev. Joe S. Vásquez, Chairman, USCCB Committee on Migration
WASHINGTON—On April 4, 2019 Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, joined Sean Callahan, CEO of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), in sending a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, and Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo, urging an 18-month designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Venezuela.
TPS is a temporary, renewable, and statutorily-authorized immigration status that allows individuals to remain and work lawfully in the U.S. during a period in which it is deemed unsafe for nationals to return to their home country.
There is no current TPS designation for Venezuela. However, conditions in the country and existing political instability have created a situation in which Venezuelan nationals cannot be safely returned home at this time. The Justice and Peace Commission of the Venezuelan Bishops Conference have recently noted the numerous violations of fundamental human rights inflicted by the country’s police and the violation of citizens’ access to health and medicine. Catholic partners have further reported on the acute food shortages and malnutrition facing the country.
“At this time, it is vital that Venezuelans in the United States have an opportunity to live with dignity, work lawfully, and provide for their families’ well-being until they can safely return home.” Bishop Vasquez noted. “We must provide humanitarian assistance to all our Venezuelan brothers and sisters in need, whether they live in the United States, in other South American countries, or in Venezuela itself,” Callahan said.
Read the full letter here.