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Religious Freedom Week has commenced for American Catholics, taking place from June 22, the Memorial of Ss. Thomas More and John Fisher, through June 29, the Solemnity of Ss. Peter and Paul. The USCCB Religious Liberty office has developed a series of themes, with each day featuring a call to pray, reflect, and act.

For example, the reflection for Tuesday, June 23 focuses on respect for houses of worship, recognizing the Church’s assertion that people of all faiths would be free to worship without fear of attacks and harassment. This calls to mind the attack on Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC, in 2015, when a gunman killed nine people during a Bible Study . Or, the parishioners of Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Baltimore, Maryland who, last summer, found solace in their parish when threatened with raids by Immigration Customs and Enforcement.

Find a printable version of this specific call to prayer, reflection, and action here and look at the Religious Freedom Week page for each day’s theme.
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DACA Ruling
What happened and what’s next?

The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) reports that on June 18, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the  Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California  that the 2017 termination of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, was arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedures Act, and the decision to rescind DACA must be vacated.

Justice for Immigrants issued a response following the decision to alert advocates to the tenuous nature of the program: “While the Supreme Court allowed DACA to continue, the Administration can still attempt to end DACA at a later date. As a result, DACA immigrant youth are safe for now, but could be at risk for deportation in the future.” The action alert went on to say, “Most DACA recipients have spent the majority of their lives in the U.S., many have families, and all of them contribute to American society as taxpayers, consumers, and community members. Additionally, there are 62,000 DACA-eligible healthcare workers involved in the COVID-19 response.”

CMSM also released a brief statement affirming the decision and that, " We will continue our commitment to work for just immigration policies that recognize human dignity.”

DACA resource after the ruling: This new backgrounder sheet is a useful tool to share with parishioners, students, and others in your institutes who are affected by this ruling. For Spanish-language, click here .

Next steps: To advocate for a longer-term resolution for vulnerable young people and their families, encourage your U.S. Senators to co-sponsor and support S. 874, the DREAM Act, which would protect Dreamers and provide a path to U.S. citizenship. Also urge your Senators to introduce and co-sponsor a companion bill to H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act. You can find sample letters and background statements here .
Human Life and Racism

In a recent issue of America magazine , long-time Vatican reporter Gerard O’Connell considers Pope Francis’ statements on social unrest in the United States, including the Holy Father’s assertion that: “We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life.” O’Connell concludes that Pope Francis is firm on the connection between the treatment of people with regard to their race and the treatment of the unborn.

Similar commentary was shared by Gloria Purvis, host of the Eternal Word Television Network’s “Morning Glory” back in January 2020 when she spoke on a panel at Georgetown University about the sanctity of life and the Black community. Purvis described the te nsion between the Catholic pro-life movement and Black Lives Matter. She issued an exhortation to build relationships across racial divides and to listen to those affected by the loss of life. “How can you go on and talk about abortion, a child in the womb, and you can’t talk about something that seems really clear about an innocent child on the playground?” asked Purvis, referring to the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by police in 2014. 
Ongoing Advocacy Following World Refugee Day

On Saturday, we marked World Refugee Day and the 40th year anniversary of the Refugee Act of 1980 that created the U.S. Refugee Admissions program. This historic moment is a time to celebrate the positive contributions refugees have made to our nation and to call for continued support for displaced people across the globe. It is also important to pause and consider the effects of COVID-19 on displaced persons.

In a statement released by Interfaith Immigration Coalition , Susan Gunn, director of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, explains, “People forced to flee their homes because of violence and persecution have to contend with a deadly pathogen they cannot see and an unwelcoming U.S. government that closes the door when it hears their cry. We urge the U.S. government to revitalize the refugee resettlement program and do its part on the world stage to respond to the needs of refugees, especially during the pandemic. Maryknoll missioners working with refugees in countries around the world call on the U.S. government to live up to the biblical call to ‘welcome the stranger’ by welcoming refugees.”

The Interfaith Immigration Coalition urges all Members of Congress to support refugees by:

  • Cosponsoring the bipartisan resolution that commemorates the 40th anniversary of the Refugee Act of 1980 and celebrates the contributions of refugees over these many years (H.Res.902 / S.Res.545).
  • Providing a supplemental $642 million for the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in FY2020 through the Refugee and Entrant Assistance account, to ensure vulnerable populations such as refugees do not fall through the cracks and can receive housing, food, and the care they need.
  • Holding the administration accountable to operating the refugee resettlement program in good faith and restoring both this program and asylum protections to historic norms; welcoming asylum seekers and stateless individuals; preventing family separation; and ending detention of asylum seekers and other vulnerable migrants, in favor of community-based alternatives.
Responding to Racism: A Lasallian Dialogue

On June 25, 2020, the Lasallian Association of Colleges and Universities (LACU), with support from the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools through the Lasallian Region of North America (RELAN) and its Districts of Eastern North America, Midwest, and San Francisco New Orleans, will host Responding to Racism: A Lasallian Dialogue .

Continuing the work of the annual Lasallian Higher Education Colloquies on Racial Justice, which started in 2017, and in light of the national and international dialogue taking place now on the sin of racism following the killing of George Floyd, LACU invites the Lasallian and Catholic family to come together for discussion and action, to work for racial justice and equity. Four Lasallian educators—a global languages professor, a multicultural affairs director, a Christian ethics professor and a chief diversity officer—will help participants understand and learn how to act in response to systemic racism.

To learn more and to register for this presentation on June 25, starting at 3:00 p.m. EDT , visit the event page.

Bethany Welch, Ph.D. , CMSM Fellow for Justice and Peace