Sunday, August 26, 2012


Several days ago the results of a recent poll gave heartening encouragement to all of us in favor of assisting younger undocumented adults and children to obtain legal status.

The USC Annenberg--L.A. Times poll showed that 61% of respondents favored granting a legal residency status following the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals [DACA]; 30% opposed the program; and 9% did not know or did not answer. 

That 61% to 30% is consistent with all polls which  give Americans the opportunity to voice their approval or disapproval to find a pathway to legal status for the 11 undocumented people living in our country.  This is really encouraging for all of us who are trying to highlight the impossible status of so many of our immigrant brothers and sisters.

I hope and pray that President Obama and Governor Romney will take note of these polling numbers, and that they will be bolder in offering new and creative ways to bring our immigrant brothers and sisters out of the shadows, and to give them a sense of dignity and worth in our midst.

With almost 1.7 million young people eligible to participate in the DACA program, I am so enthusiastic about their ability to participate fully in our society and our economy, and with the right to work openly and freely, they will now be contributing to our economy through their various payroll taxes.  This is truly a "win--win" situation for all of us.

However, the DACA program only grants this limited legal status for a period of two years.  What will happen in 2014 when the two years expire?  What will be the status of these young people?  Will there be the will to extend the program indefinitely?

I am hopeful that these two years will convince Americans that the immigrants in our midst deserve to have their dignity recognized and to have an earned path forward so that they can move from the shadows and live fully in the light of our society.

Monday, August 20, 2012


Recently I met a Hispanic man in his 50s who is surely the poster image for how immigrants are helping to establish small businesses and create jobs for others.  The man is from Mexico and is documented.

He had been working in the field of optical products, and eventually, he moved up the ladder and bought the company.  He has since expanded the company and employs 140 people, most of them with immigrant backgrounds.  The jobs require specialized training with optical equipment, and many have learned the skills needed.

However, he told me of a recent very difficult problem--agents from the government were coming to his company to check the documents of all his employees.  While he had on file documents for each employee, he could not verify the accuracy of each piece of paper.  Employers in our country are not required to take extraordinary steps to verify documents submitted by employees.

He informed all the employees that agents would be coming to their company on a certain date, and that they would want to question each employee and review their documents.

This announcement created panic among the employees, since in many cases documents had been supplied by relatives or others.  Not everyone would be able to verify each piece of paper.  As a result, 20 of his employees quit their jobs prior to the visit by government agents.

They feared that any irregularity would lead to their immediate detention, where they might languish for many months before their case would be resolved.  This would break up their families and impose great hardships on themselves and their loved ones.  So they just quit and left.

What is so sad about this case is that these 20 employees had learned highly technical skills and were producing optical products which people needed.  They were contributing to our country, to their families, and to their communities.  They were paying payroll taxes, they were helping a small business become successful, and they were part of building up the economic strength of our nation.

I commend the millions of small business owners across the country who have hired newly arrived peoples, have given them needed training, and who have given them the opportunity to provide for their families and the community.

Our current broken immigration system does not allow small businesses to hire, train, and utilize the labor of immigrants in our midst.  We all lose because of this broken system.

There are some 10 million undocumented brothers and sisters across the country in similar situations.  And like these 20 people, many were trained and fulfilling an important role for our economy.  But our hopeless immigration policies leave these people in the shadows, living in fear that their families will be broken up, and that their labors will be in vain.

As a nation we have a moral obligation to end this dreadful situation in which millions of people are not respected, are not shown basic human dignity, and are not permitted to regularize their legal status.

The new Deferred Action program to benefit DREAM students is a helpful step forward, but it only deals with a small portion of our immigrant population.  We need a comprehensive approach which creates an "earned" path towards legal status for all those in the shadows.

Both candidates for President have a moral obligation to lay out their plans for these 10 million undocumented and how their status can be gradually moved from undocumented to an earned legal status.  Members of Congress running for reelection have the same obligation.

Let us continue to stand with our undocumented brothers and sisters, and let us continue to point out the countless success stories across the country like the one I have outlined above.  Let us continue to raise our voices on their behalf, and let us expand networks among all peoples of faith to give a new and bright future for all of these brothers and sisters.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Providentially, a new program to assist our Dreamer young people goes into effect on the Feast of the Assumption of Mary into heaven, August 15, 2012.

Young people who are under 31 years and who were brought to the US. as infants or children are often referred to as "Dreamers" and they would have been granted legal status under the provisions of the Dream Act in Congress.

However, various forms of the Dream Act have been stymied or even voted down in Congress over the years, the last time occurring in December of 2010.  This means that Dreamers have no legal U.S. national status or identity.

Many Dreamers find out about their legal limbo when they try to get a driver's license a Social Security card, or try to get a job.

Two months ago President Obama announced the Deferred Action Program for Child Arrivals [DACA].  This program will apply to undocumented children and young people brought by others to the U.S. under the age of 16 years, who have spent the past five years here, and who are under 31 years as of June 15, 2012.

The program is set to take effect on August 15, the feast of the Assumption of Mary.

In charge of implementing the program are the Department of Homeland Security [DHS] and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service [USCIS].
What will Dreamers be able to achieve under the provisions of this new program?  Their benefits will include a two-year reprieve from the danger of deportation, renewable in two-year increments.  They will have the right to apply for a work permit, and therefore, be able to work legally.  Obviously, they will now begin paying taxes when they are legally employed.

Unfortunately, no legal immigration status is conferred--either temporary or permanent.  Only Congress can grant that status, and to date, they have refused to do so.
The young people who qualify, however, will have no ability to petition for the legal status of a spouse or other familly member.
Applicants must be at least 15 years of age and have a clean criminal record.  Any applicant who is suspected of being a danger to the community or national security will be denied.

Applicants will need to obtain a passport and birth certificate, and I urge them to apply at once to the Consulate of their country of origin.
Applicants also need to check to see if they have any criminal record, including misdemeanors, and they will have to prove that their status is not a threat.  The applicant will have to pay the costs involved in all of these steps.

It is anticipated that at least one million young people will apply.  Fees will include a $465 processing charge for the "Request for Deferred Action for Children Arrivals" form, and this includes an $85 biometrics fee.

The work permit appllication, which is submitted with the DACA form, is an additional $380.
Applicants must show that they have completed education or military service requirements.  Fortunately, they can now enroll in school and GED classes in order to meet this requirement.
Dreamers are encouraged to begin now collecting proof of their date of birth, their date of arrival in the U.S., and proof of residence for the past five years.

These requirements could be met from various parsh records, such as Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation, and the like.  Our parishes may be the only place where such proof of residency could be located, and we must urge our parishes to cooperate with our young people making application.

Some Dioceses, such as the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, are developing a parish identification document for parishioners in order to demonstrate their stable presence in the U.S.

There are several links that are helpful for our Dreamers:

     1.  USCIC website:

     2.  ICE website:

     3.  DHS website:

Applications will be accepted on-line beginning August 14 or 15 with a new form "Request for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals."  Look for it on:

We also need to alert our young adults about the danger of scams, of some people and even attorneys offering to do everything for the Dreamers for a large additional fee.  Many of these are bogus and not helpful.

Uncertainty remains because of unanswered questions.  What happens when a young person has been denied the new status, but now have their name, address, and other information with the federal government?  Will there be appeals for denied applications?

Since the Catholic Church has been in the forefront of advocating for the rights of all undocumented persons, this offers us a good opportunity to oencourage our young people to apply, and to assist them in any way that we can.

Our Lady of the Assumption, strenthen our Dreamers in this new phase of their lives in our midst!