Children, obey your parents [in the Lord], for this is right. “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise, “that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life on earth.
Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time, we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up. So then, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all, but especially to those who belong to the family of the faith.
Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.
Emmanuel arrived in Maryland from Togo in 2004, around age 13.
“It was a big switch,” he said. “It took a while to get used to it. The language barrier was difficult.”
Emmanuel came to the U.S. on a visa with his mother. She applied for asylum, but due to complexities in her case, he was unable to get an immigration status through her and became undocumented. After high school, Emmanuel dreamed of becoming a certified public accountant. Due to his immigration status, he was unable to get in-state tuition and could not work legally. So he took a few classes each semester as he was able to afford them.
In order to support himself, Emmanuel bought vintage-style clothing at local thrift shops and sold them online. Unable to get a driver’s license, he went from shop to shop on foot, hauling shopping bags full of clothes.
He worked hard and saved money, and in 2010 he was able to attend community college full time.
A few years later, Emmanuel’s mother become a green-card holder thanks to an attorney at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington. Despite his previous experience with being told not to apply for DACA, his mother’s attorney reviewed his case and believed the policy would be a good fit.
Finally in 2016, to his “big surprise,” as he put it, Emmanuel was granted DACA.
“It wasn’t the end, but it felt like a blessing,” he said. “Being able to have a work permit, driver’s license, buy my first car my first year, I was able to do so many things that I hadn’t dreamed of. Get a bank account, help my mother, my household.”
In 2017, he was able to attend a four-year college full-time, with in-state-tuition after one semester.
“I’ve had a few no’s in life but I try not to get too discouraged,” Emmanuel said. “It’s still hard to find the money, I’m not eligible to apply for federal student aid, but I’m trying to look at the positive.”
The thought of losing DACA is also extremely difficult for Emmanuel. He knows DACA alone is not enough, but he remains hopeful that a real pathway to citizenship will become possible for people like him.
“I’m one of the lucky ones,” Emmanuel added, “even if DACA is rolled back, I will still be grateful for what President Obama did for us.”
“Dreamers” are youth and young adult undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. What are your thoughts on the hesitancy of lawmakers to allow these long-time U.S. residents a reasonable path to citizenship?
- Dreamers represent a generation of immigrants who have grown up, by the hundreds of thousands, alongside U.S. citizens. They are well educated, entirely integrated and contribute or have the potential to contribute significantly to American society. Are lawmakers who identify as people of faith upholding their responsibilities as believers when they fail to support compassionate immigration policies like a path to citizenship for Dreamers? Why or why not?
Dear heavenly Father,
Thank you for being our provider, our healer and for making a way out of no way.
Thank you for protecting these men and women who fought difficult circumstances to seek better lives for themselves and their families.
Lord, we ask that you especially look over our young, undocumented brothers and sisters.
Cover them with your grace. Protect them from being separated from their families, uprooted from their communities and forced back to a country many of them have never known.
Lord, we also ask that you wrap your arms around the hearts of those with the earthly power to change these young people’s circumstances.
Help them to do the good your Word calls us to do. Lead them to act with love, show compassion and advocate or vote for policies that help, not hinder.
These are the things we ask in your holy name, Amen.
Call to Action
Organize a community event and invite Dreamers to tell their stories. Share others you find online on social media using hashtags including #Dreamers, #ProtectDACA and #ImmigrantsWelcome. Afterwards, call or write to your members of Congress and urge them to support a reasonable permanent solution for these young men and women to become citizens, so they can full take advantage and contribute to the society in which they were raised.