Archbishop William E. Lori will celebrate a “Dreamers Mass” in Spanish Wednesday night in a grand, old Baltimore church in the heart of the city’s immigrant community -- an act of hierarchical resistance to President Donald J. Trump’s decision to rescind protections for immigrants brought into the country illegally as children.
Trump reversed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, created by President Barack Obama to grant a reprieve from deportation and the possibility of work permits for immigrants under 16. “Dreamers” who entered the country prior to 2007 would get the protections as long as they were in school, had graduated or had been honorably discharged from the military, and had a mostly clean criminal record.
There are an estimated 9,000 “Dreamers” in Maryland, many of whom were brought into the country by parents who entered the United States without permission. Minus DACA protections, Dreamers face the possibility of deportation to native countries.
Lori and other bishops have criticized Trump’s decision to rescind DACA and toss the issue to Congress. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called Trump’s action “reprehensible” and “a heartbreaking moment in our history.” The church leaders called for a “prompt, humane, and durable solution” to the Dreamers issue.
Lori will celebrate the “Dreamers Mass” at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at St. Patrick’s Church, at South Broadway and Bank Street in Fells Point.
Sunday night on “60 Minutes,” Trump’s former White House adviser, Steve Bannon, who is Catholic, criticized the bishops for their position on DACA, claiming the church leaders only supported the protections for economic reasons and because “they need illegal aliens to fill the churches.”
I asked if Lori had a response to Bannon’s cynical claim, and received this statement through the archbishop’s spokesman:
“Mr. Bannon is way off the mark! The Catholic Church in the United States has always been a church of immigrants. I’m descended from immigrants and my grandfather was an immigrant. These young people who have lived here nearly all their lives are now facing the thought that they could be deported, depriving them of a life of opportunity and depriving our country of their talents. That is heartbreaking to me. This is not the country we should be.”
That sounds like a warmup to the archbishop’s homily at the “Dreamers Mass.”