Home » Posts tagged 'White House'

Catholics turn out to support ‘dreamers’ after DACA rescinded

By

Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — Mercy Sister Rita Parks stood near the large crowd in front of the White House that was almost silenced after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced shortly after 11 a.m. on Sept. 5 that the Trump administration was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.

Dafne Jacobs, a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient stands with supporters during a rally outside the Federal Building in Los Angeles, Calif., Sept. 1. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Sept. 5 that the DACA program is “being rescinded” by President Donald Trump, leaving some 800,000 youth, brought illegally to the U.S. as minors, in peril of deportation and of losing permits that allow them to work. (CNS photo/Kyle Grillot, Reuters)

“I’m astounded, saddened. I saw their faces, the tears and their dreams shattered,” said Sister Parks, of some of the DACA recipients nearby who were trying to take in the recent news. Many of them, the majority in their 20s, had just heard what they didn’t want to believe: that the program that grants them a work permit and reprieve from deportation, is months away from disappearing.

Some, like Catholic DACA recipient Claudia Quinones, who was in the Washington crowd, had held out hope up until the moment of the announcement that President Donald Trump would make a decision with “heart,” as he had earlier promised regarding the program that allows beneficiaries like her, brought to the U.S. as children without legal documentation, certain protections.

Instead, his attorney general said that by giving job permits to DACA recipients, jobs were “denied … to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same jobs to go to illegal aliens” meaning the young migrants. Sessions also criticized the program, calling it “unilateral executive amnesty” and said it was responsible for “a surge of unaccompanied minors on the southern border that yielded terrible humanitarian consequences.” However, many organizations have attributed the surge of unaccompanied minors to scaling violence in Central America, not to the DACA program.

Many in the crowd held up signs saying “shame” and pointed them toward the White House after the announcement. Many shouted “Donald Trump, shame on you!”

The Department of Homeland Security, which administers the program, has stopped accepting DACA applications, and current recipients will not be affected until March 5, which Sessions said, gives Congress an opportunity to find a legislative solution for the current 800,000 beneficiaries. On its website, DHS says DACA recipients can continue working until their work permits expire. Those with DACA permits that expire between Sept. 5 and March 5, 2018 are eligible to renew their permits, the website says, but they won’t be able to renew after that two-year extension.

In what can be interpreted as a command, the president tweeted: “Congress, get ready to do your job – DACA!,” kicking the political ball into Congress’ hands. But it’s unclear what Congress can and will do.

“We’re not a political hot potato,” said DACA recipient Greisa Martinez, who is advocacy director at United We Dream, a national immigrant youth-led organization for so-called “dreamers,” as the DACA youth are called. The moniker comes from the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act, a legislative proposal that has repeatedly failed to pass in Congress and which would give DACA recipients conditional residency. Though a recent bipartisan version of the DREAM Act was once again proposed by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, and Democrat Dick Durbin, of Illinois, the president said pre-emptively he would not sign it. So, it’s unclear what he means when he asks Congress to fix the situation for “dreamers.”

Martinez, who was brought from Mexico to the U.S. at age 7 by her parents, said in an interview with Catholic News Service that there’s a lot of uncertainty about what will happen to youth like her but says she’s focused on the fight ahead to “push politicians to better people.”

“I hold on,” she said, “because I know God is on my side.”

Her fellow “dreamer,” Quinones, a parishioner at Our Lady of Sorrows in Maryland, said the weekend before the announcement had been “very stressful.” Because of DACA, she has a work permit, a driver’s license and is able to attend college in the area. Now, that’s all up in the air. But DACA youth and other immigrants, as well as other Catholics, have shown a lot of support and that helps, she said.

The crowd in front of the White House was sprinkled with Catholics representing organizations such as the Sisters of Mercy, the Franciscan Action Network, Faith in Public Life, as well as men and women religious out to show their support.

Capuchin Franciscan Father Kevin Thompson of Washington, said he wanted to support the youth, which include many young Catholics at the nearby Shrine of the Sacred Heart, where he is the auxiliary pastor.

“This is their country,” he said. “This is the country they know.”

He said he would be praying for Catholics who are against programs such as DACA. The Old Testament is clear, he said, in saying that Christians must welcome the stranger.

“I pray for a change of heart,” he said.

Mercy Sister Anne Curtis said she, too, couldn’t understand the opposition of some Catholics against programs such as DACA because from the Christian point of view, “our tradition is so clear,” regarding immigrants, she said, and urged others to “look to the Gospel.”

She said she was particular disheartened with the announcement because the “dreamers” had been led to believe that the outcome would be different.

“My heart breaks,” she said. “The hope they were given and now to have their dreams dashed.”

Kevin Appleby, senior director of international migration policy for the New York-based Center for Migration Studies, joined the crowd in Washington and said the decision was “cruel, as it violates a pledge made by our government to these young people and places them at risk of deportation to countries they do not know.”

“It is sad that the president was unable to summon the moral and political courage to stand by these inspiring young immigrants, who have shown great strength and fortitude in their efforts to achieve the American dream,” he said. “They represent the future leaders of our nation and would contribute greatly to our economy and culture, if given the chance. Instead of firing them, the president should be hiring them. Now it is up to Congress to do the right thing and find a long-term solution to their plight.”

That includes plans for granting them permanent residency and citizenship, he said.

Dreamer Quinones said she’d received much support from church members at the parish level and among those who turned out to support DACA beneficiaries like her during demonstrations but said she would like to see more support from the local hierarchy.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called the cancellation of DACA “reprehensible” and said in a Sept. 5 statement that the president’s announcement “causes unnecessary fear” for the youths and their families. The bishops repeatedly called on the president to keep the program. They told DACA recipients on Sept. 5: “You are children of God and welcome in the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church supports you and will advocate for you.”

      – – –

      Follow Guidos on Twitter: @CNS_Rhina

Comments Off on Catholics turn out to support ‘dreamers’ after DACA rescinded

Francis, ‘son of immigrant family’ welcomed at the White House

By

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis introduced himself to President Barack Obama and all people of the United States as a “son of an immigrant family” arriving in the United States for the first time to learn from others and to share from his own experience. Read more »

Comments Off on Francis, ‘son of immigrant family’ welcomed at the White House

White House Easter prayer breakfast welcomes cross-section of Christians

By

Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — Quoting Pope Francis and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at the White House Easter Prayer Breakfast, President Barack Obama observed that the celebration of Easter puts other concerns into context.

“With humility and with awe, we give thanks to the extraordinary sacrifice of Jesus Christ, our savior,” Obama said at the annual event in the East Room. “We reflect on the brutal pain that he suffered, the scorn that he absorbed, the sins that he bore, this extraordinary gift of salvation that he gave to us. And we try, as best we can, to comprehend the darkness that he endured so that we might receive God’s light.”

Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, right, talks to Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, and the Rev. Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, during an Easter prayer breakfast in the East Room of the White House in Washington April 7. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, right, talks to Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, and the Rev. Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, during an Easter prayer breakfast in the East Room of the White House in Washington April 7. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

Speaking to an audience of Christian religious leaders from around the country, Obama added that “even as we grapple with the sheer enormity of Jesus’ sacrifice, on Easter we can’t lose sight of the fact that the story didn’t end on Friday. The story keeps on going. On Sunday comes the glorious Resurrection of our savior.”

Noting that Pope Francis would be visiting Washington later this year, Obama went on to quote him, encouraging people to seek peace, serve the marginalized and be good stewards of God’s creation.

“He says that we should strive ‘to see the Lord in every excluded person who is thirsty, hungry, naked; to see the Lord present even in those who have lost their faith … imprisoned, sick, unemployed, persecuted; to see the Lord in the leper — whether in body or soul — who encounters discrimination.’”

Obama observed that this was how Jesus lived and loved. “Embracing those who were different; serving the marginalized; humbling himself to the last,” and that “this is the example that we are called to follow — to love him with all our hearts and mind and soul, and to love our neighbors — all of our neighbors — as ourselves.”

Gospel and pop singer Amy Grant performed her hit “Thy Word,” based upon phrases from Psalm 119, and the Howard Gospel Choir of Washington’s Howard University also sang.

Among the Catholic participants spotted in the room were Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington; Sister Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity who is president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association; Msgr. Ronny Jenkins, general secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; Jesuit Father Tom Reese, a columnist for the National Catholic Reporter; and White House staffers that included Chief of Staff Denis McDonough.

Other prominent faith leaders attending included the Rev. Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners; Melissa Rogers, head of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and her predecessor in the post, Joshua DuBois; the Rev. Al Sharpton; Bishop Vashti McKenzie, presiding prelate of the 13th Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church; the Rev. Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals; and retired Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson.

Scripture readings and prayers were offered by an ecumenical assortment: Dominican Sister Donna Markham, incoming president of Catholic Charities USA, read one passage, while Coptic Orthodox Father Anthony Messeh of St. Timothy and St. Athanasius Church in Arlington, Virginia, read another. Formal prayers were offered by the Rev. Amy K. Butler of the Riverside Church in New York, and the Rev. Justin B. Fung of the District Church in Washington, while the Rev. Ann Lightner-Fuller of Mount Calvary African Methodist Episcopal Church in Towson, Maryland, provided a closing reflection.

In comments that started with jokes about his backyard being overrun the day before with thousands of participants in the Easter Egg Roll, and about getting teary-eyed as he contemplates his daughters growing up, Obama began to, as he put it, veer off track from the tone of joy and humility of the event. He said that he reflects on the Christian obligation to love, but that “sometimes when I listen to less than loving expressions by Christians, I get concerned. But that’s a topic for another day.”

“Where there is injustice we defend the oppressed,” he said, “where there is disagreement, we treat each other with compassion and respect. Where there are differences, we find strength in our common humanity, knowing that we are all children of God.”

In introducing Obama, Vice President Joe Biden also referenced Pope Francis’ words, quoting from the pontiff’s homily at the Easter vigil, saying “we cannot live Easter without entering into mystery. To enter into mystery means the ability to wonder, to contemplate, the ability to listen to the silence and hear the tiny whisper amid the great silence by which God speaks to us.”

Biden, a Catholic, added that he thinks that’s “who we are as Christians, and quite frankly, I think that’s who we are as Americans. We’re constantly renewed as a people and as individuals by our ability to enter into the mystery. We live our faith when we instill in our children the ability to wonder, to contemplate, and to listen to that tiny whisper amid the great silence. We live our faith when we nurture the hope and possibilities that have always defined us as a country. We live Easter — and to live Easter is to live with the constant notion that we can always do better. We can always do better.”

 

Comments Off on White House Easter prayer breakfast welcomes cross-section of Christians

President, first lady to welcome Pope Francis to White House Sept. 23

By

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will welcome Pope Francis to the White House Sept. 23.

“During the visit, the president and the pope will continue the dialogue, which they began during the president’s visit to the Vatican in March 2014, on their shared values and commitments on a wide range of issues,” said a statement released March 26 by the Office of the Press Secretary at the White House.

Those issues, it said, include “caring for the marginalized and the poor; advancing economic opportunity for all; serving as good stewards of the environment; protecting religious minorities and promoting religious freedom around the world; and welcoming and integrating immigrants and refugees into our communities.”

U.S. President Barack Obama walks with Pope Francis during a private audience at the Vatican a year ago. Pope Francis will visit the White House on Sept. 23. (CNS photo/Stefano Spaziani, pool)

U.S. President Barack Obama walks with Pope Francis during a private audience at the Vatican a year ago. Pope Francis will visit the White House on Sept. 23. (CNS photo/Stefano Spaziani, pool)

The statement added, “The president looks forward to continuing this conversation with the Holy Father during his first visit to the United States as pope.”

Last year, in their first encounter, Pope Francis received the president at the Vatican for a discussion that touched on several areas of tension between the Catholic Church and the White House, including religious freedom and medical ethics.

During an unusually long 50-minute meeting, the two leaders discussed “questions of particular relevance for the church in (the U.S.), such as the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection as well as the issue of immigration reform,” the Vatican said in statement afterward.

While in Washington, Pope Francis will address a joint meeting of Congress Sept. 24, making him the first pope to do so.

The Archdiocese of Washington said it would host the pope for his visit, but did not announce dates. On his flight from the Philippines to Rome in January, Pope Francis said he would canonize Blessed Junipero Serra at Washington’s Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

On March 18, the United Nations announced Pope Francis will visit there the morning of Sept. 25 to address the U.N. General Assembly. The pope also will meet separately with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and with the president of the General Assembly. The pontiff also is scheduled to a town hall gathering with U.N. staff.

In a statement, Ban noted that the pope’s visit came during the United Nations’ 70th anniversary, in which its members would make decisions about sustainable development, climate change and peace. He said he was confident the pope’s visit would inspire the international community to redouble its efforts for social justice, tolerance and understanding.

The United Nations did not release the detailed itinerary for the meetings, part of a larger papal visit to Washington, New York and Philadelphia. The Vatican is expected to release the official itinerary about two months in advance of the trip, unless local officials release it earlier.

Pope Francis already had announced his participation Sept. 26 and 27 for the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.

During his pontificate, St. John Paul II visited the United States seven times, two of which were fuel stopovers, making the country his most frequent foreign destination after his native Poland. He addressed the U.N. General Assembly in 1979 and 1995; Blessed Paul VI did so in 1965 and Pope Benedict XVI addressed the assembly in 2008, during his one U.S. visit as pope.

 

Comments Off on President, first lady to welcome Pope Francis to White House Sept. 23

Cardinal dismayed that White House rejects religious freedom concerns

By

WASHINGTON — In a strongly worded letter to his fellow bishops, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York charged that White House officials failed to consider the U.S. bishops’ concerns that the federal mandate governing employer coverage of contraception and sterilization under the health care law violated religious freedom principles.

An invitation from the White House to “work out the wrinkles” regarding the mandate either by rescinding it or at least widening the exemptions on religious grounds failed to reach an agreement and the effort “seems to be stalled,” he said in the letter released late March 2.

Read more »

Comments Off on Cardinal dismayed that White House rejects religious freedom concerns
Marquee Powered By Know How Media.