WASHINGTON DC – Over 1,200 alumni of Jesuit universities and high schools sent a letter (PDF FORMAT) in earlier this month to fellow alumni in the U.S. House of Representatives calling on them to “seek comprehensive immigration reform without delay.” The group forty-three House members, which includes Speaker of the House Representative John Boehner (Xavier University ‘77) have attended one or more of the 28 universities and 60 high schools sponsored by the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) in the United States.
Citing the “Jesuit spirit of generous service to people in need and a persevering commitment to the common good,” alumni, led by the Ignatian Solidarity Network, are calling for reform that includes: a process for earned citizenship for the undocumented, respect for the rights of workers, preservation and protection family unity and human dignity, and the restoration of fairness and accountability to the U.S. immigration system.
Despite the growing humanitarian crisis of unaccompanied migrant children and the continued presence of 11 million people without documentation in the U.S., President Obama and Congressional leaders like Speaker Boehner have declared immigration reform “dead.” “The fact that our country’s leaders have declared immigration a dead issue for the imminent future increases the need for people of faith to speak out for immigration reform. We have to let them know we are not going away. The current humanitarian crisis of unaccompanied children is just one more signal to the U.S. House of Representatives that our nation needs to act on immigration reform,” said Christopher Kerr, executive director of the Ignatian Solidarity Network.
On why Jesuit school alumni would call on congressional members to act, Kerr, a signatory of the letter, said, “Jesuit education has challenged each of us to be people of solidarity who take responsibility for the most vulnerable in our world. Jesuit and lay teachers implore students to be “men and women for others,” responding to the greatest needs that exist in society. Our country needs immigration reform. We hope that Speaker Boehner and other Jesuit school alumni in the U.S. House will respond to this call and act in the spirit of our Jesuit educational heritage.”
The 1,200 signatories include Dr. Eugene Cornacchia, Ph.D., president of Saint Peter’s University (Fordham University ‘85); Rev. Steve Privett, S.J., outgoing president of University of San Francisco (Loyola High School of Los Angeles ‘60, Gonzaga University ‘66, Jesuit School of Theology ‘72); Rev. David Hollenbach, S.J., Director, Center for Human Rights and International Justice, (St. Joseph’s University ‘64); and Dr. Kristin Heyer, Ph.D., ethicist and theologian, and author of “Kinship Across Borders: A Christian Ethic of Immigration” (Boston College ‘03).
Over the past several years, Jesuit institutional leaders have been vocal supporters of comprehensive immigration reform. In May 2013, the nine U.S. Jesuit Provincials wrote a letter in support of comprehensive immigration reform, which was endorsed by over 200 Jesuit institutions and communities. Before the end of 2013, Fr. Kevin Wildes, president of Loyola University of New Orleans, and Dr. Eugene Cornacchia, president of the Saint Peter’s University, released editorials publicly voicing their support of humane immigration reform efforts. On Ash Wednesday of this year, five Jesuit university presidents participated in a national immigration reform fast. Later that month, Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School, a Jesuit high school in Indiana, hosted a panel discussion with representatives from the state’s agriculture and business sectors, religious leaders, and students. Loyola University of Chicago’s Dean of the Stritch School of Medicine, Dr. Linda Brubaker,announced in late Spring that the school would waive legal residency as an admission requirement, making it one of the first medical schools in the nation to publicly state their acceptance of undocumented medical students.
Pope Francis, an Argentine Jesuit, brought international attention to the plight of migrants in July 2013, when he made his first official trip outside of Rome to the island of Lampedusa to commemorate thousands of migrants who died crossing the sea from North Africa. A month later, on the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, he said, “The reality of migration, given its new dimensions in our age of globalization, needs to be approached and managed in a new, equitable and effective manner; more than anything, this calls for international cooperation and a spirit of profound solidarity and compassion. Cooperation at different levels is critical, including the broad adoption of policies and rules aimed at protecting and promoting the human person.”
Collectively the representatives are alumni of ten Jesuit universities and four Jesuit high schools:
Rep. Timothy H. Bishop (D-NY) College of the Holy Cross ‘72; Rep. John A. Boehner (R-OH) Xavier University ‘77; Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) University of Detroit Mercy ‘86; Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA) Boston College ‘77; Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) Georgetown University ‘86; Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) Georgetown University ‘78; Rep. John Delaney (D-MD) Georgetown University ‘88, Rep. John D. Dingell (D-MI) Georgetown Preparatory School ‘44, Georgetown University ‘49 & ‘52; Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) Georgetown University ‘86; Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL) Georgetown University ‘73; Rep. Joe Garcia (D-FL) Belen Jesuit Preparatory School ‘82; Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) Creighton University ‘81 & ‘85; Rep. Andrew Harris (R-MD) Regis High School ‘74; Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD) Georgetown University ‘66; Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) Boston College ‘90; Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) Georgetown University ‘94; Rep. William Keating (D-MA) Boston College ‘74 & ‘82; Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH) Georgetown University ‘84; Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-IL) St. Ignatius College Prep of Chicago ‘84; Rep. Frank A. LoBiondo (R-NJ) Saint Joseph’s University ‘68, Georgetown Preparatory School ‘64; Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) Santa Clara University ‘75; Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) Boston College ‘91; Rep. Michael T. McCaul (R-TX) Jesuit College Preparatory School, Dallas ‘80, Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) Marquette University ‘78, Rep. James P. Moran (D-VA) College of the Holy Cross ‘67; Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) Georgetown University ‘89, Rep. Timothy F. Murphy (R-PA) Walsh Jesuit High School ‘70, Wheeling Jesuit University ‘74; Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) Fordham University ‘78; Rep. Bill Owens (D-NY) Fordham University ‘74; Rep. William J. Pascrell Jr. (D-NJ) Fordham University ‘59, Fordham University ‘61; Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI) University of Detroit Mercy ‘84; Rep. Michael Quigley (D-IL) Loyola University Chicago ‘89; Rep. Robert C. Scott (D-VA) Boston College ‘73; Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ) Saint Peter’s University ‘74; Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) Fordham University (1987); Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) Creighton University ‘87; Rep. Chris Van Hollen Jr. (D-MD) Georgetown University ‘90; Rep. Juan C. Vargas (D-CA) Fordham University ‘87, Rep. Filemon Vela (D-TX) Georgetown University ‘85; Rep. Peter J. Visclosky (D-IN) Georgetown University ‘82; Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT), College of the Holy Cross ‘69; Rep. Brad R. Wenstrup (R-OH) St. Xavier High School ‘76; Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) Georgetown University ‘65.
The Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN) is a national social justice network inspired by the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola. ISN was founded in 2004 and is a lay-led 501(c)(3) organization working in partnership with universities, high schools, and parishes sponsored by the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) along with many other Catholic institutions and social justice partners. More information can be found at: www.ignatiansolidarity.net