Christopher Kerr (ISN executive director) and Melissa Quan (Fairfield University) speak with student advocates before they depart for legislative meetings on Capitol Hill.

Jesuit University Students Advocate for Humane Immigration Reform Converge on Capitol Hill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 27, 2013
www.ignatiansolidarity.net
Contact: Christopher Kerr, Executive Director
O – 216-397-2088
ckerr@ignatiansolidarity.net

“Jesuit University Students Advocate for Humane Immigration Reform Converge on Capitol Hill”

Christopher Kerr (ISN executive director) and Melissa Quan (Fairfield University) speak with student advocates before they depart for legislative meetings on Capitol Hill.

WASHINGTON, DC – Fifty-five Jesuit university students from Farfield University, Loyola Marymount University, Loyola University Chicago, Loyola University Maryland, Saint Peter’s University, Santa Clara University, and University of Detroit Mercy, converged on Capitol Hill on to participate in legislative advocacy meetings calling for humane comprehensive immigration reform.  The student delegations assembled in DC to witness the unveiling of a extensive two-year research study on the experience of undocumented students in Jesuit higher education led by Fairfield University with collaboration from Loyola University Chicago and Santa Clara University.   The study was made possible by a $200,000 two-year grant from the Ford Foundation and directed by Jesuit Father Richard Ryscavage, of Fairfield University.  In attendance at the Russell Senate Building for the research briefing was a large crowd that included U.S. Senators, Senate and House staff members, twelve Jesuit university presidents, faculty and staff from the delegation institutions, representatives from many Catholic social justice organizations and members of the media.

Twenty-five Jesuit university presidents signed a statement of support for the research study, affirming the moral imperative for Jesuit schools to support all students -including those who are undocumented- to reach their full potential. “We continue to affirm that Jesuit colleges and universities are morally committed environments, where our students are inspired and encouraged to understand and address issues of justice, fairness, political involvement, and a preferential option for those whom society has marginalized,” the statement reads.

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Ricky Solano, a Fairfield University senior, after a meeting with Rep. Roybal-Allard’s staff

The Ignatian Solidarity Network facilitated the legislative advocacy preparation and meeting coordination for the student delegates.  In total the group participated in meetings with over 35 Congressional offices including direct meetings with Senator Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut) and Representative Zoe Lofgren (California – 16th District).

The advocacy visits coincided with Ignatian Family Advocacy Month (IFAM), a national advocacy effort of the Ignatian Solidarity Network during February.  IFAM talking points were used by the student advocates as they spoke to  staff and congress members during their legislative visits.  The talking points emphasize a “humane” approach to comprehensive immigration reform including: a clear pathway for the undocumented to citizenship that is not contingent on a secure border; that immigrant families be able to stay together; enacting the policies of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, providing young people without documentation access to a college degree if they meet certain requirements; respects the rights of workers who are undocumented; and protecting those most vulnerable, especially women and children.  Across the country, more than twenty five groups associated with Jesuit universities, parishes, and high schools have participated in legislative advocacy meetings for IFAM.

On the experience of working with the student advocates, Christopher Kerr, executive director of the Ignatian Solidarity Network said:

“It was a tremendous honor for ISN to support the work of the research team through the coordination of the students’ legislative advocacy visits.  The students brought such passion for a ‘humane’ approach to the challenges our country faces with its immigration policy.  For many this passion is grounded in their personal reality as individuals without documentation and for others in the experiences of classmates, friends, or those they have come to know through their experience of Jesuit education.  These students give me hope that a new way of imagining immigration policy is possible.”

Additional photos can be viewed at: http://on.fb.me/WigMvm

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The Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN) promotes leadership and advocacy among students, alumni, and other emerging leaders from Jesuit schools, parishes, and ministries by educating its members on social justice issues; by mobilizing a national network to address those issues; and by encouraging a life-long commitment to the “service of faith and the promotion of justice.”  ISN is an independent 501c3 non-profit organization.  Additional information can be found at: www.ignatiansolidarity.net

Additional Information and Media Coverage can be found at the links below:
Fairfield University Research Project Website
Statement of support from 25 Jesuit university presidents for the Research Project
“Documenting the Undocumented” – Inside Higher Ed (02.26.13)
“In Helping Immigrant Students, Jesuit Colleges Hope to Lead the Way” – Chronicle of Higher Education (02.26.13)