By Doris Yu
March 10, 2016 — Fr. Timothy P. Kesicki, SJ, president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, joined Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) at the U.S. Capitol yesterday to advocate for immigrant families who will be impacted by U.S. v. Texas, the Supreme Court case determining whether the President's executive action expanding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and new Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) can go forward to offer a reprieve from deportation.
Fr. Tim Kesicki, SJ, (second from left), Senator Robert Menendez (center) and others advocated for immigrants who will be impacted by the Supreme Court’s ruling.
In November of 2014, the Obama administration announced it would grant temporary protection from deportation and work authorization for up to 5 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. who had either arrived as children or who are the parents of U.S. citizens and green card holders.
Senator Menendez and Fr. Kesicki were joined by other advocates during a press conference to discuss the implications of the case for the millions of immigrants who came to the country as children and the undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and green card holders. The Supreme Court is preparing to hear oral arguments in the case on April 18.
Fr. Tim Kesicki, SJ, and other speakers at the event reviewed notes before the press conference.
“As friends of the Court — law enforcement officials, teachers, religious leaders, immigrant rights leaders, DREAMers, and everyone who believes in the merits of our case, we remain united in our call for a fairer immigration system rooted in the fundamental American beliefs of justice, humanity and keeping families together,” said Menendez, who co-led a group of 225 Democratic members of Congress in submitting an amicus brief to the court supporting of the legality of the immigration programs.
"As a Jesuit priest, my religious order works at the border in Nogales, Arizona, crossing each day into Sonora, Mexico,” said Fr. Kesicki during his remarks. “I have personally sat with women at this border who have been separated from their families, barred from their children. On their behalf I advocate for the protection and defense of their basic human rights."
Also speaking at the press conference were Richard Biehl, the police chief of Dayton, Ohio, and Alida Garcia, Director of Coalitions and Policy at FWD.us, an immigration advocacy group founded by tech entrepreneurs including Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Areli Zarate, a high school teacher who qualified for DACA and whose mother is eligible for the DAPA program, and Juan Carlos, an El Salvador native eligible for the expanded DACA program, gave first-person accounts of how the programs would benefit undocumented individuals currently living in fear in the U.S.
Members of both English- and Spanish-speaking press were present at the event.
“The U.S. Catholic bishops have affirmed their strong support for President Obama’s executive action granting relief for immigrant families. Any action to keep families together and protect children is consistent with our core faith values and our core American values,” Fr. Kesicki said. “As Pope Francis said, ‘Every human being is a child of God ... migrants and refugees do not only represent a problem to be solved but are brothers and sisters to be welcomed, respected and loved.’”