DACA Protest

Protesters march against the proposed repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program on Sept. 5 in Racine.

JACK ZELLWEGER, JOURNAL TIMES FILE PHOTO

Since the announcement to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was made five months ago, the “Dreamers” who live and work in our country still have no certainty about their future. Anxiety and fear are daily constants for the nearly 800,000 Dreamers at risk of deportation.

Ascension Wisconsin has joined other Catholic organizations in urging Congress to protect the Dreamers, whose family brought them to the United States in hopes of building a better life. It is imperative that Congress develop and pass a permanent solution to extend the protections for these Dreamers. Congress and the president have an opportunity over the next few weeks to supply some certainty to the Dreamers in the negotiations over a long-term solution.

Ascension Wisconsin is fortunate to have experienced the many ways that Dreamers have benefited our patients. Each day, I see firsthand the Dreamers, who are our valued associates, serving the most vulnerable people within our communities — including immigrants and children. They are our clinicians and administrative staff who support our patients directly and indirectly. Within Ascension, 74 percent of our approximately 500 DACA-eligible associates are clinical personnel interacting with patients every day. In Wisconsin, 40 percent of our Dreamers are clinical personnel. Ending DACA would negatively impact our community by depriving patients of clinicians whom they have come to know and trust.

Dreamers who serve patients embody the Ascension spirit. Because Ascension Wisconsin advocates for a compassionate and just society, we ask our elected leaders to demonstrate compassion and justice for the Dreamers who serve our patients every day.

As Ascension Wisconsin continues to support the move toward a transformed healthcare system, Dreamers play a pivotal role in that transformation. We know that establishing a culture that embraces diversity and inclusivity and empowers our employees makes us stronger. We know the same can also be true about our country. Congress needs to act quickly to address this important issue that threatens the dignity of our people.

I am confident that members of both parties want to resolve this issue in favor of keeping families together. Leaders and members of both parties have discussed their desire to resolve this issue in a manner that protects Dreamers, and last month during the recent tax reform debate, Vice President Pence assured Senator Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., of the administration’s desire to do so as well.

Because there is great opportunity for consensus, Congress needs to provide clarity and protection for every Dreamer. As negotiations continue, we urge members of Congress to find a bipartisan consensus to protect those most in need, enacting a spirit of generosity for a group of young adults, many of whom are working hard to achieve the American dream in Wisconsin and across the nation.

Bernie Sherry is the ministry market executive of Ascension Wisconsin and senior vice president of Ascension Healthcare.

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