Serving the Church in Texas

Texas bishops disappointed by Texas attorney general’s request to terminate DACA

DACA termination would punish young adults brought to the U.S. as children

AUSTIN — The Catholic bishops of Texas expressed disappointment in Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s movement to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, forcing 117,000 young people to be deported from the United States.

“These individuals contribute to the economy, serve honorably in our armed forces, excel in our schools and universities, minister in our churches, and volunteer in our communities. Texans should be proud to claim them as our own” instead of deporting them, said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo and Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, M.Sp.S., who wrote in their role as metropolitan archbishops of Texas on behalf of their brother bishops.

Paxton and nine other state attorneys general recently petitioned the federal government to terminate DACA, which was created in 2012 to provide legal recognition to young adults who were brought to the United States unlawfully when they were children.

To be eligible for DACA, applicants must not have a criminal record; be in school or have graduated, or have served honorably in the Armed Forces of the United States.

The Texas bishops’ letter to Paxton notes that his petition “cites concerns pertaining to executive overreach.” The bishops urge Paxton also “to be mindful of migrants’ dignity and our own Texas values. DACA is but another consequence of Congress’ failure, and the young adults accepted into DACA, along with countless other migrants who truly believe in the American dream, are victims of a broken system.”

The U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops also denounced the state attorneys general petition.

The full letter from the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops follows.

Dear Attorney General Paxton:

We are disappointed by your coordinated petition to terminate DACA. Since 2012, 117,000 young people have applied for and received deferred status through DACA in Texas. These individuals contribute to the economy, serve honorably in our armed forces, excel in our schools and universities, minister in our churches, and volunteer in our communities. Texans should be proud to claim them as our own.

Catholics have long supported these young people because we believe in protecting the dignity of every person, especially children. We also note that DACA is a temporary substitute for larger reform of our immigration laws that the United States desperately needs and which Congress is late in providing. For example, under current administrative procedures:

• Migrants who receive work visas legally are separated from their spouses and children, despite this being contrary to the law’s intent.

• Dependent children of legal immigrants can apply for permanent status, but are often made ineligible because they become adults before their application is processed due to backlogs and administrative delays.

• Migrants who have work visas and reside in the U.S. will wait decades for a green card granting permanent residence.

Under our federal system, migrants’ hopes for a better life are often met by bureaucratic ways of thinking. St. John Paul II censured such thinking because it inhibits the ability of civil society to work for what is good and to meet the needs of the person. Texans also stand against such thinking because they value both liberty and opportunity. While your petition to terminate DACA cites concerns pertaining to executive overreach, we petition you to be mindful of migrants’ dignity and our own Texas values. DACA is but another consequence of Congress’ failure, and the young adults accepted into DACA, along with countless other migrants who truly believe in the American dream, are victims of a broken system.

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