The following was written just before Pace e Bene Board Member, Sr. Andrea Koverman, was arrested during the Catholic Day of Action on the Hill to support the Dreamers. You can read more about this action at America Magazine, Pax Christi and Sojo.
By Sr. Andrea Koverman, SC
Our concern and apprehension has grown with each day that passes without a moral resolution to the expiration of DACA. We have signed petitions, made phone calls, written letters, met with elected officials, and stood in local demonstrations all to no avail. We feel the sting of injustice and pangs of guilt as we helplessly witness the escalation in arrests and threats of deportation of young immigrant community members that we promised to protect through DACA. We have betrayed their trust. These are the young people who we have helped shape and educate, who have grown into some of the most hard-working ambitious people we know, who are eager to contribute to the well-being of the country they call home. They embody all the values and characteristics Americans espouse-things we have taught them, but lack the legal status to experience the freedom of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness they also deserve.
As a Christian and a Sister of Charity of Cincinnati, I take very seriously the gospel mandate to love one another as God loves us. It is not a choice but our responsibility to take care of one another, to stand up for one another not only in words and prayers but also in action. We don’t need to know someone affected by our broken immigration system to be called to this responsibility, but I have been blessed to know many. In the years I spent living on the border near El Paso and crossing regularly into the area of Mexico around Juarez, this issue became very personal as I witnessed the poverty and violence that pushed people to risk crossing the border. I heard stories that broke my heart open and gave me nightmares as any judgment I had about the legality of their actions dissipated. They have as much right to be safe and prosper as I do. I learned to see the people I met as God does, beloved members of my own family.
When I moved to Cincinnati and began working at the Intercommunity Justice & Peace Center, I was further blessed to have a young colleague, Jose Cabrera who is a “Dreamer.” He manages the YES program-Youth Educating Society-made up of young DACA recipients and their allies. They help society understand the realities of the immigration issue by sharing their personal stories. Through them people come to learn what it is like to have been brought here at an age too young to remember, being raised as an American full of the promise of their potential and the opportunity to be successful with hard work and determination. They learn how unjust it is to then steal those hard-earned dreams and force them to live under the constant threat of deportation.
I am willing to risk personal arrest as I take a public stand to demand a clean Dream Act with a path to citizenship for Jose and the other 800,000 estimated Dreamers because it is a duty I want to raise awareness of how critical it is not to let them be used as bargaining chips in the broader conversation of comprehensive immigration reform. This needs to happen now; all people of good conscience need to take action and demand that it does. I will stand firm at our nonviolent demonstration when told to step aside to communicate that we will not stand by and let our Dreamers lose their status. I obey a higher authority than man that directs me not to comply with their laws when they are not in alignment with God’s. As Martin Luther said when confronting injustice in 1521, “Here I stand. I can do no other.”
Here is a brief video posted on their way to the event in DC: