News

Aberdeen: Prayers for Supreme Court and DACA Dreamers

19 Nov, 2019
lolson

The Arc of Dreams in Sioux Falls, S.D., took on an entirely new meaning on Tuesday, November 12 at noon, when about 50 people weathered the 30 mph winds and below zero wind chill temperatures to pray for the Supreme Court Justices at the same time they were hearing oral arguments determining the future of the Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

As people held onto signs for dear life from the howling winds, the signs’ messages: “Home is Here, United we Dream” and “We Dream in SD” expressed the sentiments of DACA Dreamers, who are holding on to their DACA for dear life during this stressful time in their lives!  The fear that DACA recipients experience is intensified now as they have to wait until Spring 2020 to learn of the Supreme Court decision.

One of our DACA recipients shared how she was feeling today:

“As the Supreme Court hearing has neared, my nerves have gotten the best of me, but I am surrounded by co-workers, friends, family, nuns (sisters) that have shown tremendous support.”

Alex shared his journey with DACA and how he can now be a personal banker at a local bank in Sioux Falls, as well as care for his wonderful family. His testimony was compelling because he was only one year old when he came to Sioux Falls.  HOME IS HERE!

Another DACA recipient came running to the event with his daughter wrapped up like a papusa in a blanket.  He wanted to express his thanks to everyone who came out to support DACA and the opportunities DACA has given him. One of our partners, who participated in the service that day, approached the father after the prayer service and offered to buy the daughter a snowsuit.  A genuine act of kindness and witness of solidarity.

Sister Mary Thomas, who was interviewed by the local TV station, reminded everyone that our families were once immigrants pursuing their dreams.  It is this generation’s opportunity now to fulfill their dreams.

There are so many reasons why DACA needs to continue.

For one, DACA was given to the children who came to the United States when they were toddlers, through no fault of their own.  This is the only country, life they know.  They have become doctors, business owners, lawyers, teachers, parents and the list goes on.  They merely pursued a benefit that was given them by our government in 2012.  Humanely speaking, how could a parent, after giving their child shelter, education, clothing and food just say, “Sorry, I’m not going to continue caring about you!”  So too, our government offered them an opportunity to pursue their dreams and now are considering withdrawing from their original offer.

Secondly, they have significantly contributed economically to our state, our country! In South Dakota alone, 252 DACA recipients have paid $629,000 of taxes this past year and have generated $5.7 million of spending.  Nationally, they have paid $2.3 billion in rental payments each year; $8.8 billion in federal taxes each year, and $613.8 million in mortgage payments each year.

Kristin Townsend, a member of our Sioux Falls Nano’s Network, shared her support of DACA Dreamers. “So many DACA recipients are young people with families, going to college and starting careers. These are workers South Dakota needs right now, when our nation is at a 1 to 1.1 ratio of job openings to applicants. That’s why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has stated their strong support for the DACA Dreamers. We need them as much as they need us.”

And finally, but most importantly, as people of faith, we believe in the dignity of every human being.  These young people are expressing their God given rights and gifts to realize their inherent human potential to make our community and country a better place to live in.

There was a powerful witness of religious diversity praying for the same cause.  Father Kris Cowles, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, read a portion of Matthew 25; David Aronson from the Jewish tradition read from the book of Leviticus; and Taneeza Islam read from the Qu’ran.  One person in the group was so inspired when she witnessed the Catholic priest offer his cap to the Jewish man as he tried to stay warm and read from the scriptures.

This event shared many partners:  Caminando Juntos, Sioux Falls Multi-Cultural Center, South Dakota Voices for Peace and South Dakota Voices for Justice, Presentation Sisters, Bread for the World – S.D., Refugee Congress, Pueblo De Dios.  One of the mottos of Presentation Sisters is “do nothing alone again.”  That was achieved by the success of this event.

All were encouraged to keep up the prayers.