BY ISN STAFF | February 24, 2014
CHICAGO, IL – Over 150 students from Catholic colleges and universities all the way from Milwaukee to Cleveland gathered at Loyola University Chicago on February 22nd for a Student Summit on Immigration Reform organized by Faith in Public Life and the Ignatian Solidarity Network. Student attendees hailed from DePaul University, Dominican University, John Carroll University, Lewis University, Loyola University Chicago, Marquette University, St. Mary’s College, St. Xavier University and University of Notre Dame.
Summit speakers included Veronica Soto, a student at DePaul University and DREAMer, Sr. Mary Ellen Lacy, D.C., an immigration advocate and participant in the nationally-known “Nuns on the Bus,” Fr. Kevin Flaherty, S.J., currently the Director of First Studies for Jesuits studying at Loyola University Chicago, and Srs. JoAnn Persch, R.S.M and Patricia Murphy, R.S.M., Peace and Justice Coordinators for the Sister of Mercy’s West Midwest Province and also ministers to undocumented persons who detained in federal facilities.
Dr. Rob Kelly, Vice President for Student Development at Loyola University Chicago welcomed the group to Loyola and offered words of encouragement for the day when he said, “It [positive change] starts with you, your leadership, your connections, and what you’re building here today.” And throughout the summit speakers noted the need for comprehensive immigration reform that recognizes the dignity of undocumented people. Sr. Mary Ellen Lacy said, “The system is broken and we repeatedly encounter the human casualties of that brokenness,” reflecting on her current work as an immigration lawyer in New York City.
Participants also had the opportunity to attend breakout sessions on grassroots advocacy, campus movement building and how to speak to diverse audiences about comprehensive immigration reform. Campus groups took part in campus action planning sessions and then presented their plans to the other student attendees. Most notable in the presentations was the students desire to engage larger constituencies in the immigration on their campuses, including cultural groups, faculty and school administration.
The Summit concluded with a brief award ceremony facilitated by Faith in Public life who awarded four “Moral Courage Awards” to following award winners:
- DePaul University, for their support of undocumented students
- Srs. JoAnn Persch, R.S.M and Patricia Murphy, R.S.M., for their continued commitment to supporting the pastoral needs of undocumented persons detained in federal facilities which included lobbying for an Illinois law allowing pastoral ministers to be permitted in detention facilities;
- Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine for being the first U.S. university to publicly state its acceptance of undocumented medical school students.