First Place Award for General Excellence, Catholic Press Association, 2013-2016

Decision to Rescind DACA Saddens Recipients, Archdiocesan Officials
By DAN PIETRAFESA

Laura Garcia is dealing with mixed emotions. The parishioner of St. Patrick’s in Newburgh was “devastated’’ President Donald Trump rescinded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Sept. 5, but is “hopeful’’ Congress will enact legislation for the president to sign that will assist the young immigrants.

“It affects everyone with DACA in different ways,” Ms. Garcia told CNY. “I’m hopeful a resolution will come soon. In the meantime, the anger, chaos and fear created has been very stressful.”

Ms. Garcia, 32, came to the United States from Mexico City with her family when she was 8 and is employed by the YWCA in Newburgh as manager of its Racial Justice Program.

“This country gives us so much more than opportunity. It fulfills our dreams we never thought would be possible,’’ said Ms. Garcia, who just had her DACA status renewed in July. “It keeps us here because we can do so much and give back so much more. We are people who are leaders and activists. This country is full of opportunities for all.”

Ms. Garcia is one of 800 young immigrants who received their DACA status with assistance from archdiocesan Catholic Charities and one of 800,000 people to receive DACA status since former President Barack Obama signed the executive order in 2012.

Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities, said an estimated 97 percent of the immigrants in the DACA program are actively attending school or working, and Ms. Garcia said she knows DACA recipients who are doctors, nurses and attorneys.

DACA protects young undocumented immigrants, who came to the United States as children under the age of 16 and have been living in the United States since 2007, from being deported and provides them with a work permit for renewable two-year periods based on good behavior. Trump is giving Congress six months to come up with legislation for his signature before he revisits the issue.

Congress may reintroduce the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, first proposed in 2001, which will give legal status and a path to citizenship to these young people. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Sept. 6 that Trump said he’d sign the DREAM Act if Congress passes it.

“I am only one story out of 800,000 DACA recipients, and people should open up their hearts to understand this is a difficult time for us. I hope if they have questions, they get answers from the right resources,” said Ms. Garcia, who hopes to become a citizen and has reached out to assist DACA recipients in her area since Trump rescinded DACA.

Msgr. Sullivan and Catholic Charities staff have reached out to each of the DACA recipients who were assisted by archdiocese’s Catholic Charities office.

“This is a time to reach out to the young people, interact with them, advise them of their rights and let them know of the ways we can help them,” Msgr. Sullivan said. “This is the time for us to reach out to our elected officials and tell them we expect them to do the right thing for these young people and by our country.

“We know these young people. These are people who are going to school. These are people who are working. These are people for whom America is their country, their home and to arbitrarily rescind (DACA) without anything else in place just breaks our heart.”

Cardinal Dolan said the rescinding of DACA was “contrary to the spirit of the Bible and of our country.”

“All of the ‘Dreamers’ who now face such uncertainty and fear, please know that the Catholic Church loves you, welcomes you, and will fight to protect your rights and your dignity,’’ said Cardinal Dolan in a statement.

“If there is a positive element to (this) announcement, it is that there is now time for Congress to act, to pass humane legislation that will make the provisions of DACA law, and provide a way for these men, women and children, who are very much a part of the fabric of our country, our neighbors, co-workers, fellow parishioners and friends, to continue their lives as productive and valued members of our country.”

On Sept. 5, Cardinal Dolan participated with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and other city leaders at a City Hall rally and discussed the issue on his radio show, SiriusXM’s “Conversation with Cardinal Dolan,” saying “it makes our beloved immigrants political hockey pucks, and they shouldn’t be.’’

Ms. Garcia said she appreciates the support that DACA recipients have received from the archdiocese.

“They are part of our community and to have them speak up for us and connect with a larger audience, it’s really important to us. To have that support has helped so much to individuals who feel vulnerable,” she said.

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