Meet the Catholic Priest Who Serves in Georgia Thanks to the DACA Program

Rey Piñeda came to the United States from Mexico at two-years old. Photo via Senator Dick Durbin’s Twitter Account.

In 2010, after graduating with top honors from Southern Catholic College in Dawsonville, Georgia, Rey Piñeda wondered wether he would ever be able to become a priest.

Regardless of being the first in his family to have graduated from college, being an honor roll student throughout high school, and having arrived to the United States at the age of two, Rey found himself in limbo due to his immigration status.

Just like millions of immigrant youth from across the country, Rey saw limited options ahead of him. He couldn’t drive, he couldn’t work, and could have faced deportation in a state that has a particularly harsh anti-immigrant reputation.

However, everything changed in 2012. President Obama announced the creation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, allowing Rey to become a deacon in 2013 and continue his education in 2014.

Rey’s story was recently shared on the Senate floor by Senator Dick Durbin, who shared how DACA allowed Rey to become a priest four years after graduating from college in Georgia:

In 2014, Rey entered the priesthood after graduating from Mundelin Seminary magna cum laude with a Masters in Divinity. Today, Rey is a priest at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Atlanta Georgia. In a letter to Senator Durbin, Father Rey wrote this about DACA: “Like many Dreamers, the U.S. is really the only country I know. DACA was an answer to many years of prayers. Without DACA I would not have been able to serve as a priest in my community. I believe my faith in God has brought me to this point in life; but my faith in America’s promise has pushed me to keep fighting for peace, justice, and opportunity in this great country I proudly call my home.”

You can watch Senator Durbin’s full recount of Rey’s story in the video below:

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