Praying for a DREAM

Immigration advocates gathered at the Supreme Court to raise awareness about President Obama's DACA and DAPA programs. Esteban Garcia/Bread for the World.

By Esteban García

I attended a vigil last week in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. And I prayed for a dream.

The vigil, co-sponsored by Bread for the World, sought to bring attention to a case that the court will decide whether or not to hear and that will affect the lives of so many of our fellow Americans. The case concerns President Obama’s authority to implement DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans). These are laws that halt the deportation of certain groups of Americans who labored to make this country their home too.

Though this is a politically contentious and polarizing issue, I can’t help but think of its human face. While praying for children whose parents brought them here so they might live freely and with opportunity, I thought of people I know whose lives are at the epicenter of these legal battles.

I prayed especially for Felipe, my good friend and a true advocate for good. He is a so-called DREAMer—named after the DREAM Act, which would benefit millions of immigrants in the U.S. without documentation. Felipe came with his family from Brazil at the age of 14. Florida was a strange place for him, but it offered him and his family what their country of origin couldn’t. I focused my prayers on him, steps from the highest court in this country, thankful for him and so many others who throughout my life have helped me bear witness to the human element of an often ugly political fight that plays out in government institutions.

Felipe became an advocate for immigration equality after some time in the U.S. through his work with GetEQUAL and United We Dream. Felipe has since been allowed to stay here, in his home, and to contribute to his country in his new job. His story is a testament to the great country we can be when we overcome partisan differences and work for the inclusion of immigrants.

However, immigration is not about a singular problem. It is intertwined with so many issues that we can all agree need to be addressed as a country and as a world community. Immigrants without documentation are often pushed out of their countries of birth by extreme poverty, violence, and hunger. In coming to the U.S., they grasp at the chance for security and well-being that so many of us have been blessed with here. DAPA and DACA would open the door for millions of people to continue being productive members of our society.

These realities were movingly captured at the vigil. We heard from young children who, like Felipe, were brought here by their families for their safety and for a chance to live better lives. I continue to pray for the advancement and expansion of these laws so that we make sure that they can accomplish that dream.

Esteban García is a media relations specialist at Bread for the World.

Photo: Immigration advocates gathered last week at the Supreme Court to raise awarness of President Obama’s DACA and DAPA programs. Esteban Garcia/Bread for the World. 

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