Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando, Florida, speaking on behalf of the U.S. episcopal conference, expressed the prelates' support for the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act in a statement delivered Wednesday at the National Press Club.
Bishop Wenski, a consultant to the episcopal Committee on Migration, said that "as a provider of education to thousands of children and young adults nationwide, the Catholic Church has witnessed the suffering of young persons who through no fault of their own, reside in an undocumented status and are denied access to legal status in this country and an opportunity to continue their education."
He said that "the DREAM Act would give these young people an opportunity to meet their potential and to fully contribute to our society. This is not only good for them but good for our country."
The DREAM Act would provide young persons who were brought by their parents to this country at an early age a way to regularize their status and obtain permanent residency. It also would allow states to give these young persons eligibility for in-state tuition.
Bishop Wenski addressed also opponents of this legislation who would call it "amnesty." He reminded them that "these children are in an undocumented status not because their own choice or decision" but because "they were dependent on their parents" and "the United States is the only country and home many of them know."
"Should we forsake these young people because we lack the political will and courage to provide them a just remedy?" Bishop Wenski asked. "By investing in these young people, our nation will receive the benefits for years to come. It is also the right and moral thing to do."