WINDSOR TERRACE — The dream isn’t over for the Dreamers — at least, not yet.
A June 18 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court against President Donald Trump’s efforts to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was hailed throughout the Diocese of Brooklyn as a victory for immigrants.
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio said the nation’s highest court did the right thing.
“Today the United States Supreme Court did the right and moral thing with its decision to halt the Trump administration’s attempt to end DACA … based on humanitarian grounds,” Bishop DiMarzio said in a statement released shortly after the decision. “The high court recognized the intent of the law and also the human impossibility of affecting a change which would lead to the deportation of many young people brought to the U.S. as children.”
The Supreme Court’s ruling came in the form of a 5-4 decision that saw Chief Justice John Roberts siding with the court’s liberal wing. In its ruling, the high court acknowledged that their decision would not stop future efforts to end DACA.
Msgr. James Kelly, chairman of the board at St. Brigid’s Immigration Services in Bushwick, cautioned against over-exuberance in the wake of the court’s decision.
“DACA is safe for now but the Supreme Court ruled on a technicality … that the president didn’t go through the proper procedure to get rid of DACA,” Msgr. Kelly told The Tablet. “While we are very, very happy, this is not a permanent decision. The Dreamers continue to have temporary protection.”
Dreamers, named after the DREAM Act bill that sought to give legal status to young people brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents, are the most impacted by DACA.
“We must keep fighting for Dreamers to get permanent protection to stay here in this country,” said Msgr. Kelly, whose program assists an estimated 15,000 immigrants a year.
Father Ruskin Piedra, director of the Juan Neumann Center at the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Sunset Park, said Dreamers can now breathe a little easier.
“The Dreamers are feeling immense joy. They know they aren’t going to be sent back to their country,” Father Piedra told The Tablet. “But they are also very smart. They realize that this isn’t over yet. The court decision does mean that the government can find another way to get rid of DACA.”
Still, Father Piedra, whose center assists thousands of immigrants a year, predicted that DACA will not come up again as a political issue in 2020: “I very much doubt that such an important decision will be brought to the floor in a presidential election year.”
A crowd of Dreamers gathered on the steps of the Supreme Court building in Washington D.C. to hear the court’s ruling in person.
Selvin Marquina, 22, of Silver Spring, Maryland, told Catholic News Service that the court’s decision made him hopeful but that he was well aware the fight isn’t over.
“There’s something good today, but maybe not tomorrow. It gives hope, it makes me feel that not everybody is against us,” Marquina said. “People are starting to realize that we’re not monsters like we’re portrayed in the media due to the president. Dreamers’ aren’t gang members, killers, terrorists.
“We’re people. All of us here, we’re people and we have dreams, we have goals,” he told CNS.
Bishop DiMarzio called the decision “right and just” for the undocumented young people “who have been victims of a fierce political debate and have been living under the constant fear of deportation.”
“The Dreamers came to this country with their parents, with no intent to break the law. For most of them, America is the only country they have ever known,” Bishop DiMarzio said. “Many dreamers have come and fulfilled their own American Dream — getting an education, and making a life their parents could only dream of.”
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops also hailed the ruling and expressed solidarity with Dreamers.
“To DACA youth, through today’s decision and beyond, we will continue to accompany you and your families,” the statement read. “You are a vital part of our church and our community of faith. We are with you.”