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Catholic Charities, Church leaders hail Supreme Court decision on DACA

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WASHINGTON — “Today is a historic day.”

That is how the chief executive officer of Catholic Charities San Diego described the U.S. Supreme Court’s rejection of a plan by the Trump administration to revoke Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The program allowed young people brought into the country illegally as minors by their parents to stay in the United States.

About 700,000 young people who qualified for the program have been protected from deportation and have been able to work, go to college, get health insurance and obtain a driver’s license.

“DACA recipients are essential members of our communities; they serve in the military, they work in our hospitals and schools. They are our colleagues, neighbors and friends,” said the Catholic Charities CEO, Appaswamy “Vino” Pajanor. “We celebrate their right to remain in our communities and be productive members of society.”

His agency helped a total of 1,019 young people apply for DACA or renew it since the program began in 2012 by an executive order from then President Barack Obama. Pajanor encouraged individuals who need to renew this permit to contact his agency.

There are currently just under 12,000 DACA recipients in the Diocese Of San Diego, according to the Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS).

The U.S. Catholic Church as well as faith-based organizations praised the Supreme Court’s ruling, issued on June 18.

“We welcome this decision, noting that the Trump administration did not follow proper administrative procedures required to repeal the DACA program,” said a statement from Archbishop José H. Gómez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Washington Auxiliary Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration.

They told DACA recipients: “Through today’s decision and beyond, we will continue to accompany you and your families. You are a vital part of our Church and our community of faith. We are with you.”

They also urged President Donald Trump to keep DACA intact.

“Immigrant communities are really hurting now amidst COVID-19 and moving forward with this action needlessly places many families into further anxiety and chaos,” they said. “In times of uncertainty, let us remember the teachings of the Gospel which encourage us to be open and receptive to those in need.”

Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, board chair of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), also praised the ruling.

“This ruling gives a reprieve to DACA holders, but Congress should quickly pass legislation granting these Americans a pathway to permanent residency and citizenship,” he said.

Congress has considered the proposed Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act, which would grant temporary conditional residency to these young people. First introduced in 2001, it has yet to pass.

The day after the court announced its decision, President Trump tweeted that his administration planned to try again to revoke DACA.

Catholic Charities’ experts advise immigrants who need to renew their DACA permit and prepare the application, all for free. They may contact the agency by phone in San Diego at (619) 287-1270, in South Bay at (619) 498-0722 and in Imperial County at (760) 370-3914, or by email at immhelp@ccdsd.org.  The agency provides other immigration-related services for a nominal fee.

Aida Bustos contributed to this story.

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