Very few people without citizenship documentation have called upon me for pastoral care in my career. My failed attempts to offer them some measure of comfort or reassurance made a durable impression that their challenges outstrip my awareness and my skill by a lot.
It is perhaps worst for the young, who are closer to me in age than the parents who brought them to the United States to make for them a better life. That promise largely delivered, with a standard of living, safe housing, and educational attainment far beyond what was in the offing in the country of their birth. But the constant awareness of one’s tenuous citizenship status takes a spiritual toll.
Hours spent in my cheerless office with a young person, a college graduate, perpetually unemployed and vigilantly fearful for hers and her parents’ potential deportation, crying heaving sobs about isolation, anger, and depression, forced me to recognize the spiritual crisis our country is in: countless (literally) young people who love this country and know no other home live in constant fear of ejection and face menacing structural barriers to becoming contributing members of the American citizenry and workforce.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy enacted in 2012 addressed two elements of this human crisis in a meaningful way. Young people brought here as children were spared the paralyzing fear of deportation and given a work permit. It allowed people who have only ever experienced themselves as Americans to relax even just a little into the assurance that this country wants them to be part of its future.
Suspending DACA will do palpable harm to masses of mostly young people for no compelling reason.
Suspending DACA will also diminish the present character and future prospects of the United States. Ejecting people who desire to contribute to the future of the country is foolish policy, even if you believe, as the Attorney General does, that the policy granting them reprieve was inappropriately enacted by the Executive, and not the legislative, branch of the government.
Suspending DACA will deepen a spiritual crisis that is barely five years into being made slightly, though tangibly, better.