In early October, President Donald Trump sent a letter to members of Congress outlining his priorities for immigration reform. Trump’s proposals include funding for a border wall, a merit-based immigration system and an increase in immigration officers.
Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin, Texas is the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration and expressed the Catholic Church’s views of Trump’s proposals in a statement posted on October 10, 2017.
“They are not reflective of our country’s immigrant past, and they attack the most vulnerable, notably unaccompanied children and many others who flee persecution,” Vasquez said. “Most unfortunately, the principles fail to recognize that the family is the fundamental building block of our immigration system, our society and our church.”
Trump’s proposal aims to reduce the amount of family members who can be sponsored for green cards by U.S. citizens and green card holders. In his letter, Trump wrote the current system is a burden to Americans looking for work.
“Without these reforms, illegal immigration and chain migration, which severely and unfairly burden American workers and taxpayers, will continue without end,” Trump stated.
The president also said his list of priorities must be included in any legislation to protect young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally when they were very young. Those immigrants, commonly known as DREAMers, were protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals under former President Barack Obama. The Trump administration ended the program in September 2017 but gave Congress a six month window to come up with a permanent legislative solution for DREAMers.
Bishop Vasquez wrote in his statement that DACA should be the priority as the six month phase out period winds down.
“Since July, Congress has introduced legislative solutions for Dreamers, including the Dream Act. The Administration should focus attention on ensuring that a legislative solution for Dreamers is found as soon as possible,” Vasquez said. “Every day that passes without that solution, these youth experience growing apprehension for their futures and their families. Each passing day brings us all a step closer to March 2018, when DACA recipients will begin to lose legal work privileges, and far worse, face the threat of deportation and family separation.”
The statement went on to ask Congress to act on the legislation that has already been introduced.
“We shall not stop advocating for their permanent protection and eventual citizenship,” Vasquez said.