Springfield Dominicans Join Dominican Sisters Nationwide In call for protection of DACA “DREAMers

Dominican Sisters Conference Public Statement on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Springfield, Ill.—The Dominican Sisters of Springfield join Dominican women religious nationwide in support of hundreds of thousands of young people whose dreams for a better life in the United States are in jeopardy because of the president’s rescinding of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

“These young men and women are not strangers; this land is their home!” the statement from the Dominican Sisters Conference (DSC) says. The conference represents 6,000 Dominican Sisters and their associates across the United States.

“We call on Congress to put a quick end to the chaos this causes for hundreds of thousands of young people who study in our universities and contribute to the cultural, economic, and religious values of our country,” says Sister Marcelline Koch, OP, promoter of justice for the Springfield Dominicans. She noted that there are at least four possible options already on the table in the U.S. House and Senate that could replace DACA, including the DREAM Act sponsored by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin and the Hope Act sponsored by Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez.

“Accompanying immigrants has been our passion since the first day our sisters came to Illinois in 1873,” said Sister Rebecca Ann Gemma, OP, the congregation’s prioress general. “We won’t stop now.” The Springfield Dominican Sisters taught immigrant children of Irish railroad workers in Jacksonville, Ill., when they arrived in 1873.

“Human rights are at the heart of the Gospel, and for that reason, at the heart of Dominican religious life,” Sister Marcelline explained. This was affirmed by the Dominican family worldwide during the Salamanca International Congress, held in Spain last year while the Dominicans, formally called the Order of Preachers, were celebrating the 800th anniversary of the founding of the Order by Dominic de Guzman, a Spanish priest. As the co-promoter for justice among Dominicans in the United States Sister Marcelline was one of the U.S. representatives at the congress.

The Salamanca document says “The focus on human rights touches and unifies every aspect of our work to respect and defend the inherent dignity and freedom of each and every person.”

The complete statement by DSC is below.

Dominican Sisters Conference Public Statement on The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – DACA

We, the Dominican Sisters Conference and the Dominican Justice Promoters in the U.S., are saddened and compelled to speak out against President Trump’s removal of protection for more than 800,000 young people through the rescinding of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.  These “Dreamers” were brought to the U.S. as children . . . some as infants . . . and now are in danger of deportation from the only country they have ever known.

As people of faith, we take seriously the gospel call to welcome the stranger and care for those in need. But these young men and women are not strangers; this land is their home!

We have long called for immigration reform, we now urge Congress to take immediate action to protect these young people – Americans in every sense of the word – by enacting the bipartisan Dream Act of 2017, and working for compassionate, comprehensive immigration reform for all.

The Dominican Sisters Conference represents 6,000 Catholic sisters and their associates across the United States. The Dominican Justice Promoters represent the sisters, friars, and laity of the Dominican Family in the U.S. This statement is also posted at the DSC website.