Washington D.C., Oct 10, 2017 / 15:41 pm
After US President Donald Trump asked Congress to pass stricter immigration laws if they plan to grant legal status to certain undocumented immigrants, one bishop said Trump’s proposals would hurt the vulnerable.
“The Administration’s Immigration Principles and Policies do not provide the way forward for comprehensive immigration reform rooted in respect for human life and dignity, and for the security of our citizens,” Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin, chair of the migration committee at the U.S. bishops’ conference, stated Oct. 10.
In an Oct. 8 letter to House and Senate leaders, President Trump pushed for the passage of stricter immigration laws and tougher enforcement, as part of Congress passing a version of the Dream Act.
The latest version of the Dream Act was introduced this summer by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). It would grant permanent legal status to young immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children, who do not have a criminal record, who have lived in the U.S. for at least four years, and who meet other requirements.
When Congress failed to pass such a bill several years ago, the Obama administration announced in 2012 a program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), to delay the deportation of eligible immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, giving them time to apply for a continued stay in the U.S.
However, on Sept. 5, Trump ended the DACA program, saying it was the duty of Congress to address the matter. Any DACA-related legislation that would address the issue of Dreamers residing in the U.S., he said in Sunday’s letter, must be accompanied by stricter immigration policies in the name of national security.
In the letter to Congress, Trump cited an investigation of U.S. immigration laws which he ordered and which recently concluded. That investigation, he said, discovered weaknesses in the immigration system that needed addressing in the name of national security.
Trump called for the completion of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The House in July approved a spending bill with $1.6 billion in border wall funding, but the Senate did not act on it. Currently, around 700 miles of the approximately 2,000 mile-long U.S.-Mexico border have a border fence.