A Catholic DREAM Act

The time is now in Catholic America to pass the Dream Act. Many in Washington are trying to make political … Continued

The time is now in Catholic America to pass the Dream Act. Many in Washington are trying to make political hay during the lame-duck session of Congress, however, Catholic support for this immigration reform is about ethics and morality, not partisan politics. The Bible tells us that in God’s Kingdom to come “the sins of the father should not be visited upon the children” (Ezekiel 18:20). It is in the spirit of Jesus that Catholics apply the scripture towards solving a contemporary social problem. It makes sense, economically and politically too.


Supporters of the Federal DREAM Act participate in a candle-light procession and vigil in downtown Los Angeles Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010.

For those who might not know, the Dream Act is focused on children who entered the US when under the age of 18 and thus were not responsible before the law for the civil violation of how their family might have overstayed a visa, or falsified identification papers. The pending legislation allows these young people without proper papers to apply for legal status and eventual citizenship if they serve in the military or secure significant college education. The bill is not “amnesty,” since that term refers to absolving a criminal: these young people did not commit any crime – they were underage – and ought not be penalized for what their parent(s) may have done.

The legislation is good for taxpayers. It means that the government will not have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in tracking down such persons, holding them in detention centers or paying with tax money to send them back to a country of origin. Since the majority of these young people were raised in the US from early childhood, they would be “fish out of water” in countries they left long ago and probably would find themselves branded as “outsiders” because of their culture, American accent in the foreign language and loyalty to the United States of America.

The purpose of US immigration law is to filter out undesirables and select immigrants who will make positive contributions to the economy and society. The Dream Act fulfills this purpose without the cost of bureaucratic overkill. We know already that these persons are not criminals: they have either risked their lives in defense of the country or have sought education to prepare themselves for productive roles in society and, in some cases, both the military and education are part of their profiles. It makes little sense to spend additional funds – which the country does not have to spare – when common sense provides us with an immigration pool of proven worth.

The Catholic bishops of the USCCB have spoken forcefully on this legislation and lobbied repeatedly for its passage. Moreover, papal teaching on this kind of modern legislative issue was clearly addressed by Pope Paul VI in his Motu Proprio on the Pastoral Care of Migrants. Family values, the importance of placing the needs of real human beings before narrow political interests, a pro-life attitude towards immigration and the Church’s preferential option for poor are all brought to bear in the USCCB’s teachings about the ordinary Magisterium in our day.

Opponents of the Dream Act often expose themselves as enemies of Catholicism in voicing their rejection of this measure. I have seen snide accusations that the bishops favor immigration reform because it will increase the number of Catholic by allowing more Hispanics into the country. This line of thinking cheapens our faith and commitment to social justice by supposing that the Catholic Church is some sort of merchant who needs new customers. Moreover, you can turn the argument around by suggesting (I won’t!) that those who oppose the reform want to preserve the tenuous Protestant majority in the US by attacking Hispanics already in this country.

I think we need a major effort by the USCCB new president, Archbishop Dolan to use his considerable persuasive talents right away on behalf of Latinos and Latinas. In the long run, we need to educate ourselves about the moral clarity this measure imposes upon the nation’s muddled immigration laws. Finally, we need to silence the Cafeteria Catholics on the right-wing like Deal Hudson whose worldly purpose is to sully our Catholic faith by opposing the Dream Act.

  • vickie105

    Yes, a Catholic Dream Act it is. Perhaps the Catholic Church would like to reimburse the American people for the years that we provided public school education and medical care to these Dreamers? I am surprised to be able to comment here. A Catholic site required cash donation to comment.

  • sunnyday1

    Maybe you should reimburse them for picking crops and keeping our food affordable. The Dream Act should pass and the government should stop using these kids as political footballs. I don’t understand the mentality of anyone who would vote to destroy a young person’s future.

  • vickie105

    Um, I think they have been paid to pick the crops. Actually, there are very few Dreamers who have ever worked in agriculture, very few. We pay $113 Billion annually for these people; do you really think that keeps food affordable? Fruit is actually pretty expensive, prohibitively so if you add in the social services.

  • wmpowellfan

    Let’s not be selective — Jesus also said to obey the nation’s laws. These “dreamers” are illegal aliens, and even if they had no say in their parents bringing them here, the fact is we are a nation of laws. We will not reward lawbreakers, or the children of lawmakers. The best thing for these “fish out of water” is to apply the education and positive experience that we taxpayers gave to the children of illegals, and achieve transformational change in their countries of origin. Let’s also be realistic: the Nightmare Act is an economically and socially ruinous amnesty program. As a Christian, I say the Catholic Church’s stance on this is hypocritical, irresponsible and anti-American.

  • wmpowellfan

    By the way, what about the 30-year-old illegal alien “children” who would take eager advantage of this extortion of U.S. taxpayers? There is no limit to the fraud that will be committed. The Catholic Church has been complicit with illegal immigration, coaching invaders on how to scam social services so that citizens have to pay for anchor babies, medical care, and countless other “gimmes.” Illegals have used this nation shamelessly for generations, and the Catholic Church has been their willing enabler and accomplice.

  • hunter340

    If this Nightmare Act is approved there will be 2 million less American kids going to college over the next several years because the democrats want to give those slots to illegal aliens. However we American citizens do get one thing out of it… the bill. Yup the democrats want the American taxpayer to subsidize their education while cheating our American kids. The Nightmare Act has no cap, no end-date and no enforcement. It’s simply a “mass ongoing amnesty”. In the future any foreign family with a school age child can sneak in the country and enroll their child in school to obtain automatic citizenship. Why do democrats hate American kids so much???

  • carolynhyppolite

    First, The idea that allowing immigrants to go to college denies native born people an opportunity to do so gets an F in ECON 101. There is not a fixed number of college slots for students to go into, just like there is not a fixed number of jobs in the United States. If there is an increase in a demand for a college education than supplies will adjust in the same way that other companies expand if there is a greater demand for their products. Second, for those who think that the Catholic Church has something to gain from immigrants forgets that the Church is an international institution. When Hispanic Catholics come here, the Church in America has to import pastors for them. There is no net benefit in doing this. The bishops don’t make more money!Peace,

  • usapdx

    The dream act is a slap on the face of every American citizen. Do you know the full details of this dream act? Why should this country reward anyone ILLEGAL here no matter who? This dream act is poorly written and if pasted, you as well as your children will pay dearly for it and I am not speaking of just taxes. These bishops that speak out on this political matter must file their diocese’s income with the I.R.S. for the tax exempt law’s rules limits your free speech for thoes groups that claim tax exempt. KNOW THE FULL DETAILS OF THE dream act and what the letters of the word dream mean in this act. This dream act is wrong and will cause many more of the same to enter the U.S.A.. Call your members of congress and get the facts.

  • ThomasBaum

    wmpowellfan You wrote, “Let’s not be selective — Jesus also said to obey the nation’s laws.”No, He didn’t, Jesus said, “Give to God what is God’s and to Caesar what is Caesar’s”.You also wrote, “As a Christian, I say the Catholic Church’s stance on this is hypocritical, irresponsible and anti-American.”But is it against what Jesus actually spoke about?Have you ever thought about Joseph, Mary and Jesus’s trek into Egypt?Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    The Catholic Church is a multi-billion dollar tax-exempt institution with its very own Vatican Bank.I see no reason why Americans should reject the Catholic Church should it commit itself by contract to sponsoring, educating, feeding, and providing health care for every Catholic about whom the Catholic Church is concerned.I support the Dream Act. I do not support the hypocrisy and partisanship of the Catholic Church. I do not support its legislating in our Congress.I do not. However, I can not back off Tikkun Olam as I understand it, the hypocrisy, greed, etc. of the RCC notwithstanding.

  • wmpowellfan

    Thomas Paul, you’re saying that the Lord was an illegal alien??

  • ThomasBaum

    wmpowellfan You asked, “Thomas Paul, you’re saying that the Lord was an illegal alien??”I suppose that this is in reply to my question, “Have you ever thought about Joseph, Mary and Jesus’s trek into Egypt?”The fact stands that Joseph, Mary and Jesus was aliens in Egypt whether or not they were “illegal” is just a matter of if there was a “law” or not.There is more to think about concerning Joseph, Mary and Jesus’s trek into Egypt than the “legality” of it.Just as there is, or at least should be, “more to think about” than the legality of other people’s trek into different places, don’t you think?If you think that “Christianity” is just about what is legal and not legal then you don’t seem to have a clue about what “Christianity” is about.If you remember the “parable” of the Good Samaritan, the priest and Levite were following the “legality” of their situation but it was the “hated” Samaritan that Jesus spoke highly of, was it not?And also as I pointed out about your statement “Let’s not be selective — Jesus also said to obey the nation’s laws.”, I responded, “No, He didn’t, Jesus said, “Give to God what is God’s and to Caesar what is Caesar’s”.”Jesus is not even coming close to saying what you said He said, Jesus puts it in a way that makes us make a decision based on something besides the “legality” of our actions.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • LonewackoDotCom

    Thomas Paul Moses Baum opines: “Jesus puts it in a way that makes us make a decision based on something besides the “legality” of our actions.”Indeed. And, it’s not moral to hollow out Mexico and help their corrupt elites by braindraining them of people who might press for reforms or at least would make that country a bit less dysfunctional.And, it’s not moral to deprive American citizens of college in order to give those educations to foreign citizens who could appeal to their own countries for educations.Glad we got that straightened out!

  • ThomasBaum

    LonewackoDotComYou wrote, “Glad we got that straightened out!”And as I said, “Jesus puts it in a way that makes us make a decision based on something besides the “legality” of our actions”I did not say that Jesus did it this way for others to make the decision for us, you can come to your decision whereas others can come to their own decision.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • wmpowellfan

    Check your Bible, Thomas — I think you’ll be surprised to see that “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar and unto God the things that are God’s” are not Christ’s only words regarding secular laws. Here’s another question for you: why do you feel that Christians have to be manipulated for the benefit of people who are for all intents and purposes invaders, with no loyalty to the U.S. except for monetary benefits? And why not encourage young illegal aliens educated in this country to use their knowledge and experience to benefit their countries of origin? That would be a tremendous personal achievement for these young people, and for the people of those nations (especially Mexico). That’s a sincere question: why not that kind of dream?

  • ThomasBaum

    wmpowellfan You wrote, “Check your Bible, Thomas — I think you’ll be surprised to see that “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar and unto God the things that are God’s” are not Christ’s only words regarding secular laws.”Jesus said lots of things, that is just the point.You also wrote, “Here’s another question for you: why do you feel that Christians have to be manipulated for the benefit of people who are for all intents and purposes invaders, with no loyalty to the U.S. except for monetary benefits?”I think that Christians should think for themselves and just because some do not agree with you do not mean that they are being “manipulated”.Many people come here for many different reasons and as far as saying ALL come here for no other reason than “monetary benefits” seem somewhat judgemental considering that each and everyone, ultimately, is an individual.Some that come for “monetary benefits” might just like to eat and are trying to feed others also.You then asked, “And why not encourage young illegal aliens educated in this country to use their knowledge and experience to benefit their countries of origin?”Who knows, maybe some of this “encouragement” might come from not always having to look over one’s shoulder.You then wrote, “That would be a tremendous personal achievement for these young people, and for the people of those nations (especially Mexico).”Do you think that this “personal achievement” can even be pondered when survival itself is a day to day reality?You then asked, “That’s a sincere question: why not that kind of dream?”If given a chance at “that kind of dream” some may actually dream it.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • MarkfromPA

    I agree with this article. Many good points were made. I am glad that the bishops support the Dream Act. I am confused as to way this hasn’t passed. Why would Senator not want to help young people? These young people were raised in the US. Are some Senators not supporting this act because they don’t want to go against people and groups that dislike immigrants? Who cares about what people like Deal Hudson thinks. If this guy is representative of Catholics then we are in trouble. Some of the comments here are sobering. The nastiness is troubling.