Pope Francis said Monday that he hopes US President Donald Trump will re-think the move to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a programme that shields immigrants who came to the US illegally as children – known as “dreamers” – from deportation.
The leader of the worldwide Catholic Church said it is important for young people to have roots. Almost 800,000 people under the programme, known as “Dreamers”, now face an uncertain future, including deportation, after Trump announced his decision to end the programme last week.
“One hopes that it is re-thought somewhat,” Francis said, when asked about DACA on Sunday, as published by Reuters.
The announcement to end the programme was made Tuesday last week by US Attorney-General Jeff Sessions, who called the programme an unconstitutional overreach by the Obama administration. The US Congress has been given six months to come up with a replacement legislation.
Pope Francis said he wanted to learn more about this decision when speaking to journalists on a plane flight to Rome on Sunday. Speaking about the DACA and the obstacles immigrant families face, the religious figure held Trump to the representation the US President makes of himself in public, that is, of “a man who is pro-life”.
“I have heard it said that the president of the United States presents himself as a man who is pro-life, and if he is a good pro-life (man) then he will understand that the family is the cradle of life, and that it must be defended as a unit,” Francis said, as quoted by The Washington Post (via Straits Times).
Deporting these young immigrants means they will be separated from their family, a situation Francis said will leave them with no hope.
“In the end, young people feel like they have no hope. And who robs them of hope? Drugs, other addictions, suicides – youth suicides are very high – and this happens when they are torn from their roots,” Francis said.
“The relationship between a young person and his roots is very important. Young people who have been uprooted today are asking for help”.
Reuters notes that 15 states and the District of Columbia in the US have filed a lawsuit to challenge Trump’s decision last week, claiming it was “motivated, at least in part, by a discriminatory motive” against Mexicans, who make up the majority of dreamers.
California university leaders denounced the decision almost immediately after it was announced last week, calling it “backward-thinking” and a decision that “goes against American ideals and basic human decency”.