We need to find a way to let Dream­ers stay

The Hazleton Standard-Speaker - - OPINION - Katie Bres­lin

Re­gard­less of how far away I move, I’ll al­ways be a girl from Ha­zle­ton.

Ha­zle­ton is where I was born, where I was ed­u­cated and where I gained the value sys­tem that led into my ca­reer in faith-based ad­vo­cacy. I’m proud to be a work­ing­class girl who has worked hard to make it, and I learned the value of hard work by see­ing it in my friends and neigh­bors in town.

It is my child­hood in Ha­zle­ton that shapes how I view pub­lic pol­icy as an adult. I was a stu­dent at Ha­zle­ton Area High School when Ha­zle­ton made na­tional news for pass­ing the Il­le­gal Im­mi­gra­tion Re­lief Act in 2006 and it deeply shaped my views on im­mi­gra­tion — and the need for im­mi­gra­tion re­form. What I am most grate­ful for is in a mo­ment that split most of the city along racial lines, I had the op­por­tu­nity to in­ter­act with my peers from dif­fer­ent back­grounds and get to see the ef­fects of this or­di­nance from their point of view. This im­pacted my de­ci­sion to move to D.C. and work to­ward an im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem that treats people hu­manely and with com­pas­sion.

I train young adults be­tween the ages of 18 and 30 on how to build re­la­tion­ships with mem­bers of Congress. The young adults I work with come from dif­fer­ent back­grounds and from all over the coun­try — from In­di­ana to Cal­i­for­nia to, of course, Penn­syl­va­nia. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump re­cently ended a pro g ram called the De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals( DA CA ), which since 2012 pro­vided pro­tec­tion to nearly 800,000 young adults who were brought to the United States when they were chil­dren. Some of the young adults I work with are DACA re­cip­i­ents and are now in dan­ger of de­por­ta­tion.

We have just six months to pass leg­is­la­tion in Congress or th­ese young people, called Dream­ers, will be de­ported out of the only coun­try they have ever known. Sup­port­ers for th­ese Dream­ers come from all over the po­lit­i­cal realm, from the Catholic bish­ops to busi­ness own­ers. There has al­ready been bi­par­ti­san leg­is­la­tion in­tro­duced in the Se­nate. Lead­ers are lin­ing up to find so­lu­tions to al­low Dream­ers to stay in this coun­try and con­tinue to be part of Amer­i­can so­ci­ety.

That is why I was so in­cred­i­bly dis­ap­pointed to see Con­gress­man Lou Bar letta’ s state­ment on DACA. We need elected of­fi­cials who are both strong and com­pas­sion­ate, but Con­gress­man Bar­letta’s state­ment re­vealed a se­ri­ous lack of kind­ness for th­ese Dream­ers who are just try­ing to live in the coun­try that they love. I shouldn’t be sur­prised — given Con­gress­man Bar­letta’s po­si­tion on the ad­vi­sory board of the con­tro­ver­sial Fed­er­a­tion for Amer­i­can Im­mig ra­tion Re­for m (FAIR) — yet it feels so out of place for a man of faith like him­self to not give a chance to th­ese chil­dren of God when they are ask­ing for it.

As a woman of faith, I truly be­lieve that there is the light of God in each per­son. One of the most vo­cal al­lies for Dream­ers is the Catholic Church be­cause they also be­lieve in mercy and good will for Dream­ers. In their state­ment about DACA they shared a Bi­ble verse that I hold dear: “Who­ever wel­comes one of th­ese chil­dren in my name wel­comes me; and who­ever wel­comes me does not wel­come me but the one who sent me” (Mark 9:37). That’s why I’m call­ing on Con­gress­man Bar­letta to re­flect on his Catholic faith and adopt a sim­i­lar ap­proach to Dream­ers.

We have an op­por­tu­nity to make the lives of nearly 800,000 young adults bet­ter — young adults who have al­ready con­trib­uted so much to this coun­try. And it starts by sup­port­ing the Dream Act of 2017. KATIE BRES­LIN is the young adult pro­gram man­ager at the Friends Com­mit­tee on Na­tional Leg­is­la­tion, a non­par ti­san Quaker lobby in the pub­lic in­ter­est in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. She is a 2009 grad­u­ate of Ha­zle­ton Area High School.

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