Editorial | When practicality and a Gospel mandate meet

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The absurdity of ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program might best be summed up by reports by McClatchy and other news sources. The news outlets reported that some young immigrants protected by the program who were brought to the U.S. undocumented as children and later enlisted in the military are worried they'll be deported, left without legal protection to stay in the country they signed up to defend.

Most of the young people, referred to as "Dreamers" after the failed DREAM Act in Congress that would have given them permanent legal status, know no nation but America. They should not be blamed for decisions taken by their parents or guardians to enter the U.S. without proper papers. The Dreamers have cleared intensive background checks, proven their worth by serving in the military or going to college, and check in with the federal government every two years. They eventually could be forced out of their jobs and schools and are under threat of deportation.

Not only will the military lose recruits, but companies will lose workers. Communities will lose mentors, volunteers, businesses, and teachers. Families will be broken apart. And the United States will lose taxpayers — young people whose contributions are so needed to a Social Security system that needs their contributions to fund a growing population of retired Americans.

But Catholics have an even more important reason for pushing our government to allow these young people to have legal status — the teachings of Jesus Christ.

In a statement released after the Trump administration's plans to phase out DACA were announced Sept. 5, Archbishop Robert J. Carlson stated that "welcoming the stranger, the immigrant, and the refugee have been long-standing hallmarks of our American way of life and religious convictions. The responsibility to welcome and care for the migrant and refugee are not only public and social virtues, but also find common ground and resolve in faith: 'Come you that are blessed by my Father... for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me' (Matthew 25: 34-35). This Gospel mandate to actively reach out and welcome the stranger has guided our Catholic social values and practices for centuries."

Archbishop Carlson also pointed out that in the migrant and refugee we see the face of Christ.

The Catholic bishops of Missouri are calling on the Missouri congressional delegation to work closely with other members of Congress to pass legislation that will establish a new DACA program that will allow young adults who were brought into the United States as children to stay in this country and establish citizenship.

We need to follow the bishops' lead in contacting our representatives asking for the new program allowing permanent status for the young people. 

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