President Donald Trump’s promise to treat undocumented minors with “great heart” needs to be reflected in policy that gives them legal protection, not deportation, Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles has said. “They did not make the decision to enter this country in violation of our laws, and in fairness we cannot hold them accountable,” Archbishop Gomez said in an Aug. 29 column for the Archdiocese’s Angelus News.

“America is the only country they know, and the vast majority are working hard to make their own contribution to the American dream.” “It would be a tragedy to cancel DACA and declare these 800,000 young people ‘illegal’ and begin deporting them,” he added.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was established under President Obama to protect such people from deportation and to allow them to secure work permits. The Trump administration is under pressure from the attorneys general of 10 states, who have said they will file suit against President Trump on Sept. 5 unless he cancels the program. Archbishop Gomez, however, saw an opening for the president to change.

Archbishop Gomez’s column also reflected on the personal and political difficulties surrounding immigration status. “We need to keep in mind that beneath all the politics, there are real people, real issues and legitimate differences of opinion,” he said. “That should not be an excuse for inaction. It should be the reason for coming together and finding a way to move forward.” “Immigration remains a difficult issue and it is made even more difficult by the polarization of our politics. It is no secret that both parties and activist groups on either side ‘benefit’ by the present gridlock,” the archbishop continued.

He said there is reluctance on all sides to seeking common ground, and a seeming willingness to “leave the issue unresolved, even if that means people continue to suffer — all for the sake of not ‘giving the other side a win’.” “No one should be naïve about this reality. But we should not accept this reality, either,” he said, saying that the situation is a sign of a deeply unhealthy phenomenon in democracy.

Full story at Angelus.