Ruth* takes pleasure in doing simple things other parents may take for granted. One of the most notable is she can drive her kids to soccer practices, school and community service events without worrying about being stopped by law enforcement. But the joy and freedom Ruth experiences from taking her children to their activities may be in jeopardy.
Ruth came to the United States at age nine. Since she arrived, she always lived in fear of being separated from her family due to her legal status in this country. She was young when she made the U.S. her home and didn’t understand all the legal challenges she would later face.
Ruth says she was always forced to live in the shadows, not being able to fully socialize with other kids. She knew from a young age she could not do or enjoy the same activities they did, including simple things like going on road trips with her family.
As an adult, Ruth’s situation got even worse. She was not able to continue with her dream of going to college and becoming a prominent lawyer or working for law enforcement. In fact, she could not even obtain a simple job or drive, much less take trips with her kids or go to an emergency room without being asked for identification.
When former President Obama introduced DACA, Ruth says her life completely changed. DACA is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Over 780,000 youth have received protection from the DACA program since its inception by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2012. DACA provides no legal status or government benefits, but does provide recipients with temporary employment authorization to work in the United States and receive a reprieve from deportation.
Because of DACA, Ruth was finally able to come out of the shadows and obtain her dream job. She works at a school and is proud to serve her community.
With DACA, she could obtain a driver’s license, buy a house, and take her oldest son on a road trip to visit colleges. Most recently, she could help him achieve his dream of being accepted to a four-year university. Ruth has gone back to school to further her education, and soon she will obtain a bachelor’s degree in accounting.
Ruth says she would not have been able to reach most of the achievements she has now if it wasn’t for DACA. Her dreams continue. She hopes to finish her bachelor’s degree and help her daughter go to college by supporting her financially and emotionally.
The Catholic response
On September 5, the Administration announced the DACA program will be terminated in the next six months. The future is uncertain for hundreds of thousands of people like Ruth who came to the United States as a child.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) denounces the decision to end DACA and strongly encourages Congress to find a legislative solution.
“The cancellation of the DACA program is reprehensible. It causes unnecessary fear for DACA youth and their families. These youth entered the U.S. as minors and often know America as their only home…This decision is unacceptable and does not reflect who we are as Americans.
“As people of faith, we say to DACA youth – regardless of your immigration status, you are children of God and welcome in the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church supports you and will advocate for you.”
Read full statement here.
*Name changed to protect privacy.