Chicagoland

Chicago Heights parish hosts walk for new DACA legislation

By Joyce Duriga | Editor
October 26, 2017

Walk for new DACA legislation

More than 100 people turned out for a march Oct. 21 at St. Agnes Church in Chicago Heights to raise awareness for the need for new DACA legislation. The parish partnered with Comunidad En Accion de Illinois to organize the march.
St. Agnes Parish in Chicago Heights and Comunidad En Accion de Illinois collaborated to bring support to DACA recipients from the southern suburbs of Cook County with a DACA/ Dream Act Awareness March on Oct. 21. The event ended in the parking lot of St. Agnes with speakers, songs and a closing prayer. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
St. Agnes Parish in Chicago Heights and Comunidad En Accion de Illinois collaborated to bring support to DACA recipients from the southern suburbs of Cook County with a DACA/ Dream Act Awareness March on Oct. 21. The event ended in the parking lot of St. Agnes with speakers, songs and a closing prayer. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
St. Agnes Parish in Chicago Heights and Comunidad En Accion de Illinois collaborated to bring support to DACA recipients from the southern suburbs of Cook County with a DACA/ Dream Act Awareness March on Oct. 21. The event ended in the parking lot of St. Agnes with speakers, songs and a closing prayer. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Karen, a DACA recipient, waits for the start of a march in Chicago Heights on Oct. 21. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Karen, a DACA recipient, waits for the start of a march in Chicago Heights on Oct. 21. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

Karen is 22, a licensed hair stylist and one of the 700,000 young people previously covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. She is worried about being deported.

She joined more than 100 people who turned out for a march Oct. 21 at St. Agnes Church in Chicago Heights to raise awareness for the need for new DACA legislation. The parish partnered with Comunidad En Accion de Illinois to organize the march.

President Obama created DACA in 2012 by executive order. It protects young undocumented immigrants from the threat of deportation and enables them to legally work and study in the United States.

President Trump eliminated DACA on Sept. 5 and urged Congress to pass legislation within six months.

DACA was open to anyone who arrived in the U.S. before age 16 and who had lived here since June 15, 2007. They could not be older than 30 when the Department of Homeland Security enacted the policy in 2012.

Through DACA, they couldn’t apply for citizenship but could obtain drivers licenses and paid taxes. The majority of DACA participants were from Mexico.

Karen says she’s received an outpouring of support from friends and family in Chicago since DACA ended but she still worries.  

“If they want to affect us as DACA persons they’re probably going to be doing something to our parents and I’m scared they’re going to do that. I don’t want to lose my parents,” she said, referring to immigration authorities. “I really, really want for them to see us as human beings and as the future and not to see us as immigrants or as this thing that is here that should not be here. I want them to see us as how we are.” 

She’s heard negative comments from people about her immigration status, often from fellow immigrants in the country legally.

“I’ve been getting it from people who are not from here who are telling me I should not be here,” Karen said. “They should know really what DACA means and what it is for us to be struggling every single day not having the rights that most of the people are having here.”

St. Agnes parishioner Chris Greiner teaches DACA participants at Governors State University in Will County and attended the march to show his support. 

“For me it’s in line with the pope’s words, the archbishop’s attitude and words and it aligns very near to my notion of taking care of those in need when we have the space and room,” he said.

St. Agnes pastor Father John Siemianowski agreed. 

“In the community of Chicago Heights these are our neighbors. These are our parishioners. These are our kids. They’re in our school, they’re in our hospital, teaching, working taking care of us. This is our family and we need to support them,” said Siemianowski.

This is also our faith, Siemianowski said.

“We start with Jesus, Mary and Joseph who travelled all over because they were refugees and immigrants. It’s the center of our faith and we should be hospitable, welcoming, see the gifts in one another and bring them out.”

Topics:

  • immigration
  • daca

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