In Leviticus 19:34, the Bible reads, “The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the native ones among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.”
This verse is as important now as it was when it was written. I often come back to this verse when I think of the plight of the millions of undocumented immigrants who came to this country seeking a better life, especially those known as the Dreamers.
The Dreamers are the group of undocumented immigrants who were brought to this nation when they were far too young to have had a choice in the matter. They were brought here by older relatives or friends who wanted to give them a chance of having a better life. They have worked hard to become valued members of our society.
The Dreamers live with the threat of deportation daily. The threat of being deported back to a country that they do not understand — or might not even remember — became all too real with news that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program could no longer accept new applicants by a federal judge’s ruling.
This shows us that Congress must act to protect these young immigrants while they work to become citizens, and Congress must act now.
We at the Congregation of St. Joseph applaud Sen. Joe Manchin’s support of the DREAM Act.
The pathway to citizenship for Dreamers must be kept in this bill so it can be passed quickly, providing these young men and women with the protections they deserve while they walk the pathway to citizenship. We ask that the leaders in the Senate work with the parliamentarian to find a way to include these needed protections in the budget reconciliation bill.
Most of the Dreamers were brought to this country when they were around 6 years old, and the majority of them have been here for more than 20 years. They have worked in positions that were deemed to be essential during the COVID-19 pandemic, even though their status made it more difficult to access health care.
The Dreamers worked hard during the pandemic to continue to provide for their families and to help keep the country open for business. But, hard work is something they’re used to. They will continue to work hard and abide by the rules, to obtain their citizenship — because citizenship is not something that is just given to them.
The Dreamers must already abide by residency requirements, to remain in the DACA program. They must submit to fingerprinting and background checks, as well. They must abide by these requirements for eight years prior to becoming citizens.
Most people agree that the Dreamers should be protected from deportation while they work to become citizens. It is one of those rare causes that enjoys bipartisan support in Congress, as well as among the voters. About 86% of Americans support keeping DACA. Three quarters of Republicans support allowing Dreamers to work and go to school in the United States.
As the sisters of the Congregation of St. Joseph, our guiding principles lead us to work toward a culture of mutuality and inclusivity. We stand in solidarity with all who are oppressed and marginalized. We are dedicated to giving public voice to those who are suffering from systemic injustice and we wholeheartedly support the Dreamers in their journey toward citizenship.
Although the DACA program and the Dreamers have bipartisan support in Congress and among voters, they still live with the very real threat of deportation. It is time for Congress to eliminate this threat and provide Dreamers with permanent protections.