Since the announcement was made to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the "Dreamers" who live and work in our country still have no certainty about their future. Anxiety and fear are daily constants for the nearly 800,000 Dreamers at risk of deportation.
St. Vincent, part of Ascension, has joined other Catholic organizations in urging Congress to protect individuals who were brought to the United States at an early age without documentation, but have assimilated to U.S. culture in hopes of building a better life. It is imperative that Congress develop and pass a permanent solution to extend the protections for this important group in our society. Congress and the President have an opportunity over the next few weeks to supply some certainty to the Dreamers in the negotiations over a long-term solution.
St. Vincent is fortunate to have experienced the many ways that Dreamers have benefited our patients. I see firsthand these individuals who are our valued associates each day serving the most vulnerable within our communities – including immigrants and children. They are our clinicians and administrative staff who support our patients directly and indirectly. At St. Vincent Indiana, 88 percent of our Dreamers are clinical personnel. Ending DACA would negatively impact our community by depriving patients of clinicians whom they have come to know and trust.
These dedicated clinicians who serve patients embody the Ascension spirit. Because Ascension and St. Vincent advocate for a compassionate and just society, we ask our elected leaders to demonstrate compassion and justice for the Dreamers who serve our patients every day.
As St. Vincent continues to support the move toward a transformed healthcare system, these individuals play a pivotal role in that transformation. We know that establishing a culture that embraces diversity and inclusivity and empowers our employees makes us stronger. We know the same can also be true about our country. Congress needs to act quickly to address this important issue that threatens the dignity of our people.
I am confident that members of both parties want to resolve this issue in favor of keeping families together. Leaders and members of both parties have discussed their desire to resolve this issue in a manner that protects Dreamers, and during the recent tax reform debate, Vice President Pence assured Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) of the administration’s desire to do so as well.
Because there is great opportunity for consensus, Congress needs to provide clarity and protection for every Dreamer. As negotiations continue, we urge members of Congress to find a bipartisan consensus to protect those most in need and enact a spirit of generosity for a group of young adults, many of whom are working hard to achieve the American dream in Indiana and across the nation.
Now is the time for Congress to act.
Dr. Aaron Shoemaker is chief medical officer of St. Vincent Medical Group.