We need to find a way to let Dreamers stay
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.