By MegAnne Liebsch
November 12, 2019 — Hundreds of advocates, including several Ignatian and other faith-based organizations, gathered outside the Supreme Court today to show support for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients. The demonstration, organized by Home Is Here, coincided with the start of oral arguments in the case which will ultimately determine the future of the DACA program.
For members of the Ignatian family, the rally began at Columbus Circle with demonstrators praying the rosary for the over 700,000 DACA recipients who will be impacted by the case. The group — which included representatives from the Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN), the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU), Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) and the Office of Justice and Ecology at the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States — then processed to the Supreme Court, joining activists from Home Is Here and other advocacy organizations.
Drivers honk as we process to the Supreme Court, praying and singing, for #DACA recipients and all those impacted by our country's immigration policies. #DACAHOPE #DefendDACA @NETWORKLobby @FaithPublicLife @USCCBJFI pic.twitter.com/dpEVlLI7TZ— Ignatian Solidarity (@IGsolidarityNET) November 12, 2019
Joshua Utter, outreach and advocacy coordinator at JRS, says he was proud to join the demonstration. “DACA and TPS [Temporary Protected Status] were programs to protect those that were fleeing violence, fleeing persecution, so it’s very important that we stand here in solidarity with those migrants,” he says. “We must protect their rights and make sure that the United States is a place of welcome.”
DACA is a two-year temporary status that provides young migrants with documentation and protection from deportation — though it does not provide a pathway to citizenship. In 2017, the Trump administration froze the program, arguing that DACA was unconstitutional because it wasn’t approved by Congress. If the Supreme Court finds DACA unconstitutional, its 700,000 recipients will be at risk of deportation.
With a ruling not expected until next summer, advocates are calling on Congress to pass sustainable immigration reform with pathways to citizenship for DACA and TPS recipients.
“We hope that Congress will enact legislation to protect these people and provide a pathway to citizenship,” says Fr. Ted Penton, SJ, Secretary of the Office of Justice and Ecology.
The impacts of the DACA case are especially present at Jesuit universities, which are home to many DACA students. “So many DACA recipients are students at our schools,” says Deanna Howes Spiro, director of communications for AJCU. “There are a number of schools with large populations [of DACA students], like Loyola Chicago, and these students wouldn’t be able to get through these programs and obtain their educations if it wasn’t for DACA. The contributions that they make to Jesuit colleges and universities — you can’t quantify it. It’s intangible.”
?? HAPPENING NOW ?? Organizers, immigrant leaders, and allies just arrived at the Supreme Court of the United States in support of #DACA recipients and our immigrant community. #HomeIsHere #HereToStay pic.twitter.com/HBWyz9fdFa— United We Dream (@UNITEDWEDREAM) November 12, 2019
During lunch recess, the plaintiffs in the case — all DACA recipients — joined the demonstration on the steps of the Supreme Court, holding hands and chanting, “Home is here!”
To learn more about how to support DACA recipients and ensure that “home is here,” visit the Ignatian Solidarity Network’s Prayers of Hope Campaign.