The Catholic Commentator 

Confusion and fear appear to be intensifying for thousands of Hispanics in the Diocese of Baton Rouge who could potentially be affected by President Donald Trump’s decision to scale back the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), according to one leading Hispanic official. 

Julia Scarnato, director of the Hispanic Apostolate for the diocese, said she believes Trump’s decision will have a profound and lasting effect on the Hispanic community, which is one of the fastest growing in the region. 

“The impact will be immediate and will have future consequences regarding the lives and activities of the individuals within the community,” Scarnato said. 

She said if plans to cut back on DACA move forward, the size of the Hispanic community will begin to shrink, which will affect programs that provide basic needs for many immigrants. She added that the diocese will have to evaluate those changes and reach some decisions that could “affect the lives and activities of each and every member of the community.” 

Scarnato estimated the changes could potentially affect thousands of Hispanic children, teenagers and young adults in the area. 

“The Hispanic community is confused and scared about the decision,” Scarnato said. “The family unit within the Latin culture is fundamental to their everyday existence. 

“The possibility that this decision will harm the integrity of the family unit has placed an enormous amount of stress upon members of the community.” 

Young Hispanics immigrate to the United States in search of a better life, Scarnato said, and believe that they are in their adopted country. She said they wish nothing more than to be able to live in peace and happiness, and become contributing members of the community. 

Depending on what type of compromise is ultimately reached with the Trump administration, thousands of those dreams may be dashed with the stroke of a pen. 

Trump’s decision, however, has met bi-partisan opposition, and some Republicans have been floating various security and enforcement proposals that could potentially be parlayed with legislation that would establish a pathway allowing for DACA recipients and other young undocumented immigrants who came to the country as minors to remain.

Opponents claim that many of the so-called Dreamers, some of whom are now young adults in their 20s, were brought to the United States at an early age by their parents. Those same opponents point out that the U.S. is the only country these young people have known in their short lives and to force them back would not only be inhumane but also place their lives in jeopardy. 

Scarnato has plans to communicate with elected officials to explore the possibility of developing a solution that would be amicable to all concerned. She is already a member of an advocating organization that is in direct opposition to the president’s plan. 

“I believe in the intelligence of our congressmen to seek a remedy that will help the thousands of families that are at risk, and at the same time that more flexible laws are created where legal entry into the United States of people who want to work honestly in this beautiful country,” Scarnato said. “I am very proud to be a citizen of a country where the principles of our Constitution are based on ‘the people.’ </span id=”14″>

“We are asking God and our founders to touch the heart of all those who have to decide the future of thousands of families.” 

Scarnato admitted it’s painful to witness “innocent people” being held in the various detention centers suffering what she said were “all kinds of injustice.” During the deportation process, of which she is quite familiar, she said individuals are often mistreated while they wait for months or years for the decision of a judge to determine their future. 

She has witnessed many travesties of justice, even among the immigrants’ own attorneys, who take their cases lightly without any sense of urgency. She said when a person is deported to his or her original country of origin, that life is “completely destroyed.” 

Scarnato said she has not been contacted by immigration officials regarding immigrants, but praised Baton Rouge law enforcement officials for being respectful of the civic right of the Hispanic community. 

“I have had to visit my brothers detained in other parishes and we have much negligence, slowness in processing cases and corruption,” she said. “The charity of Christ calls us to work for the most vulnerable and forgotten and to make alive the call of Pope Francis to leave our comfort zone, not only in the church but in all the institutions that work with people.”