Archbishop Charles J. Chaput joined his brother bishops in expressing support for the controversial DREAM Act – a bill that would grant citizenship to many children brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents. The bill is expected to be voted on by the Senate on Dec. 18.
Joining coadjutor Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles in endorsing the legislation, Archbishop Chaput issued a statement on Dec. 17 urging Catholics to contact their local lawmakers to vote in favor of the measure.
The act's full title is the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act. It would allow young people who entered the United States before the age of 16 to apply for legal permanent residence and eventual citizenship, as long as they have finished high school, have no criminal record, have lived in the U.S. for more than five years and have completed two years of college or military service.
While Democrats largely support the measure, Republicans have criticized it for encouraging illegal immigrants to bring their children across unsecured borders. The House has already passed the act, but the Senate vote on Saturday is expected to be close.
Archbishop Chaput said the bill “is about fairness to high school graduates who were brought to this country unlawfully through no fault of their own, since they came with their parents.”
He added that those who would benefit from the act are “talented, intelligent and dedicated young persons who know only the United States as their home.”
He called the bill “a practical, fair and compassionate solution for thousands of young persons in our nation who simply want to reach their God-given potential and contribute to the well-being of our nation.”
“This important piece of legislation is critical for the lives and hopes of thousands of young people across America,” the Denver archbishop said, urging people to contact their federal senators and representatives. Voting in favor of the act “is the right and just thing to do,” he said.
Adding to Archbishop Chaput's support of the bill, several U.S. bishops held a teleconference on Dec. 17 urging Congress to pass the legislation.
Those who participated in the conference included: Cardinal Roger Cardinal Mahony of Los Angeles, Archbishop Gomez, Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City and Bishop Edward J. Burns of Juneau, Alaska.