BY ISN STAFF | February 4, 2015
Twenty-five undocumented students and graduates of Catholic colleges and universities have co-signed a letter to seventy-eight members of the U.S. Congress who are fellow alumni, asking for Congress to “recognize their humanity.” The letter comes as the U.S. Senate debates a Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill that was approved by the House two-weeks earlier with an amendment to revoke the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, of which each of the students is a beneficiary. The students and graduates note that there is an alternative when it comes to DACA, permitting successful young people like themselves the opportunity to serve their communities, country, and world as they have learned to do from their Catholic educations. The students note that the DACA program has given them “hope” and allowed them to study at Catholic colleges and universities and consequently “contribute to the country [they] call home.”
The DACA program was established in 2013 by the Obama administration. It allows certain undocumented immigrants who entered the country before their 16th birthday and before June 2007 to receive a renewable two-year work permit and exemption from deportation. It does not confer legal immigration status or provide a path to citizenship. Over 700,000 young people who are undocumented have benefited from the program according to the Pew Research Center.
The students represent eleven including Georgetown University, Gonzaga University, Loyola Marymount University, Loyola University Chicago, Marquette University, Saint Peter’s University, Santa Clara University, Seattle University, University of Detroit-Mercy, University of Notre Dame, and University of San Francisco.
The letter was organized by the Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN) in partnership with undocumented students and alumni as well as partners at Catholic colleges and universities. ISN works with a complex network of Jesuit and other Catholic institutions that have taken a definitive stance on the importance of providing relief to undocumented immigrants.
In November 2014, the U.S. Jesuit Conference released a statement showing general support for the Obama administration’s executive action announcement that included the DAPA program, an extension of DACA. In 2010, the Jesuit provincials of the United States issued a public letter to Congressional leaders and President Obama calling for passage of comprehensive immigration reform legislation that included a path to citizenship for undocumented persons in the U.S. Last July of this year over 1,200 alumni of U.S. high schools and universities sent a letter to Jesuit school alumni in the U.S. House of Representative asking for them to pass humane comprehensive immigration reform legislation. Jesuit institutional leaders have shown support for undocumented immigrants and humane immigration reform by participating in fasts, public statements, and direct support of undocumented students. In 2014, Loyola University Chicago became the first U.S. university to publicly accept undocumented medical students.
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 organization working in partnership with Jesuit universities, high schools, and parishes, along with many other Catholic institutions and social justice partners.