March 2, 2018, Chicago – Adrian Dominican Sisters JoAnn Fleischaker, OP, and Dorothy (Dot) Dempsey, OP, were part of a group of Catholic clergy and religious from Chicago who took part in a recent press conference announcing a Lenten fast in solidarity with Dreamers.
Dreamers are U.S. residents who had immigrated to the United States as children with their undocumented parents. Advocates for these Dreamers are working to pass legislation that would protect the Dreamers, who had applied for temporary safety from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Many of the estimated 800,000 Dreamers had never known any nation other than the United States.
Both Sisters JoAnn and Dot are members of the Adrian Dominican Congregation’s Dominican Midwest Mission Chapter, based in Chicago. For years, Sisters and Associates in the Dominican Midwest have focused on their Chapter’s Immigration Initiative, which calls on them to walk with immigrants and to work toward a just and compassionate immigration reform.
Sister JoAnn is one of several Adrian Dominicans who volunteer to spend two hours for two weekends a month at the Marie Joseph House of Hospitality, a center in Chicago for women and children immigrants. Before the monthly meetings of Sisters and Brothers of Immigrants, Sister JoAnn and others take part in an hour of public witness in support of immigrants.
As an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher, Sister JoAnn has heard first-hand of the fears of deportation faced by many adult learners. “When you meet people who are in that situation and you hear them speak about their experience, it helps you understand tie issue so much better,” Sister JoAnn said.
Sister Dot spoke of her own experiences as a literacy tutor with immigrants and as a court watcher in immigration court, ensuring the immigrants who are represented in court that what happens to them is noticed by the community. “I listen to the struggles that they have while they’re incarcerated,” she said. Hearing their experiences gives her special motivation for being involved with the immigrant population.
Sister Dot is also among a group of Sisters who gather for interfaith prayer every Friday morning at Broadview, the detention center for immigrants. She explained that, in the past, immigrants detained at Broadview were often deported from there on Friday mornings, and the group was there to give them moral support.
“It’s a witness,” Sister Dot said of the Broadview gathering, noting that students on spring break often join them in their prayer. In addition, she said, law students from DePaul University often come to learn more about the experience of the immigrants.
Sisters in the Dominican Midwest Chapter and other concerned citizens in the Chicago area have an opportunity almost every other day to participate in an action on behalf of immigrants, Sister Dot said. “We all do what we can: calling, marching, being a presence. It helps to know what they must go through, not knowing what tomorrow may bring. It’s all for the Dreamers and our immigrants.”
February 23, 2018, Adrian, Michigan – As the March 5, 2018, deadline for the termination of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) approaches with no immigration legislation in sight, the Adrian Dominican Sisters are joining national Catholic actions on behalf of the young Dreamers.
At stake is the welfare of about 800,000 Dreamers, young U.S. residents who came to the United States as children. Many of the Dreamers, protected by the DACA program, contribute greatly to their communities in the United States and have experienced no other home. President Donald Trump rescinded the DACA program in September 2017, stating that it was up to Congress to pass legislation to protect the Dreamers from deportation by March 5, 2018.
Noting the urgency of the situation for the Dreamers, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has called for a Catholic Call-In Day on Monday, February 26. “Our faith compels us to stand with the vulnerable, including our immigrant brothers and sisters,” the USCCB leadership wrote in a statement. “We have done so continually, but we must show our support and solidarity now in a special way. Now is the time for action.” Watch a video produced by the USCCB.
On Monday, Adrian Dominican Sisters, Associates, and Co-workers on the Motherhouse campus are participating in the National Call-in Day for Dreamers. They are asking all concerned citizens to join them in calling their House Representative and two Senators (U.S. Capital Switchboard, 202-224-3121), and Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House (202-225-3031), urging them to protect the Dreamers from deportation, provide a clear and narrow path to citizenship, and avoid damages to existing protections for families and unaccompanied minors.
On Tuesday, four Adrian Dominican Sisters will represent the Congregation at a Catholic Day of Action with Dreamers on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., sponsored by a broad coalition of Catholic organizations. Congregation representatives are Sisters Elise D. García, OP, General Councilor; Attracta Kelly, OP, Director of the Congregation’s Immigration Assistance Office; Corinne Sanders, OP; and Heather Stiverson, OP. They will be among several hundred other Catholic Sisters, clergy, and lay leaders standing in solidarity with the Dreamers. The day will begin with a brief press conference, followed by a time of song, prayer, and visits by participants to their elected legislators.
Feature photo: From left, Sisters Elise García, OP, Corinne Sanders,, OP, and Attracta Kelly, OP, receive a blessing at the end of Mass on February 26 for their participation in the Catholic Day of Action with Dreamers in Washington, D.C. on February 27. Also representing the Congregation will be Sister Heather Stiverson, OP, who ministers and resides in Detroit.