Catholic Churches to Host Dinner for DACA Recipients

Talon Delaney

In September 2017, President Trump set a deadline for the DACA program to end and for Congress to develop a substitute program. That deadline is March 5.

Now, Ames Catholic churches are coming together to host a dinner Feb. 24 to spread awareness about problems local DACA recipients are facing.

DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is an immigration policy which allowed the children of undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S. on a work permit.

Karen Stein is a parishioner with Saint Cecilia’s Catholic Church and the lead organizer of the DACA dinner.

Saint Cecilia’s, Saint Thomas Aquinas, and Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Churches are all involved with the dinner. Saint Thomas Aquinas will host the dinner at 6 p.m. after their evening mass.

The churches invited local priests and parishioners, local and state representatives and DACA students. Everyone is welcome to come.

“We chose Saint Thomas because we want students to come,” Stein said. Saint Thomas Aquinas sits about 100 feet from the Memorial Union east along Lincoln Way.

Everyone is invited to come, and the event will be catered by Mr. Burrito. People are encouraged to bring food if they can, but Stein urges anyone to come, even if they can’t.

Stein experienced the American immigration process first hand when she was 10 years old and came to the U.S. from her war-torn home of Nicaragua.

“I went through the processes,” Stein said. “I was interviewed, my family was told we were going to get kicked out of the country, but then Reagan opened the doors with a new refugee policy and now I’ve been a legal citizen for 27 years.”

Stein now offers translating services to immigrants and helps them obtain legal documentation.

“We’re blessed to have such dedicated parishioners,” Said Father Aaron Junge, campus minister with Saint Thomas Aquinas. “[Saint Thomas’s] role is quite minor compared to Karen’s.”

The DACA issue has been polarizing in the last few months, with many people strongly supporting undocumented immigrants and others calling for their immediate deportation.

“I understand both sides,” Stein said. “I’ve been an illegal immigrant and I’m a legal citizen now. There’s a lot of misinformation out there and the goal of this event is to help people understand each other.”

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a statement in September 2017 denouncing the DACA repeal.

“The cancellation of the DACA program is reprehensible,” the statement reads. “It causes unnecessary fear for DACA youth and their families.”

USCCB continued to call the DACA repeal both un-American and un-Christian, and called for Congress to make quick legislative action protecting undocumented children who call America their home.

“Our position aligns with the Catholic Church,” Junge said. “Christ calls upon us to meet him in the strangers of this world, and to have an open heart to those in need.”

Stein thinks people need to reach some sort of common ground before any legal decisions can be made. She also thinks we need to focus on more efficient domestic education.

“If we gave better educations to people who are here, and to people who come here, we’d be a stronger country,” Stein said. “We have the capacity, and it’s time to invest in everybody that’s here.”