Sunday, December 19, 2010

You can't kill a dream

On Dec. 4, 2000, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly proclaimed December 18 International Migrants Day. The day began as a commemoration of the 10-year anniversary of the adoption of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant workers and the Members of their Families.

On Dec. 18, 2010 the U.S. Senate voted no to cloture on the DREAM Act, which would have provided a path to citizenship for young persons who were brought to the United States by their parents as children or infants.

A terribly ironic coincidence of dates.

After the DREAM Act defeat, supporters of the bill said they would continue to push for it. Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, one of the sponsors, said Latinos would remember in the elections in 2012 how senators had voted.

In a letter to senators before the vote, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, coadjutor archbishop of Los Angeles and chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration, said: "The DREAM Act would provide thousands of deserving young persons who desire to become Americans a fair opportunity to do so. This would not only benefit them, but our country as well. It is the right thing to do, for them and for our nation."

The U.S. Catholic Bishops have supported passage of the DREAM Act for years. The Church's National Migration Week -- which has as its theme Renewing Hope, Seeking Justice -- is slated to be held Jan. 2-8 in parishes and dioceses around the country. It seems like the ideal time for Catholics heeding Pope Benedict XVI's focus on migrant families in his 2011 World Day of Migrants and Refugees message to gather for prayer vigils and in solidarity with the young people whose dreams were delayed and deferred (but hopefully not destroyed) by Saturday's vote.

Many thanks, by the way, to both Senators Casey and Specter who voted yes to the DREAM Act.

Speaking of dreams that flower only after a long fallow season ....

In an appeal born of shameless self-promotion, and of support for a small but worthy Catholic literary magazine, I'd like to draw your attention to the latest issue of Dappled Things, which contains my "Poem with a line from the Desert Fathers." The issue includes fiction, essays, poetry and artwork with a Catholic focus and is quite handsomely produced. It is also -- perhaps fittingly -- a bit countercultural in that the issue cannot be ordered as an epub, only in print. The web site is Go, browse the back issues (some of those have online links, go figure) -- much of the material is engaging and speaks directly to the Catholic imagination. Hey, maybe you'll discover the next J.R.R. Tolkien among the pages ....

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