BY ISN STAFF | November 24, 2016
Jesuit college and university leaders across the country have been taking public stands in support of undocumented students since the results of the U.S. presidential election became clear. Earlier this week Fr. Paul Fitzgerald, S.J., president of University of San Francisco, spoke out during an interview with CNN. “We will use every legal means to protect [undocumented students],” said Fr. Fitzgerald. Hundreds of college and university presidents have shared similar sentiments in response to the election of President-Elect Trump, who made campaign promises to deport millions of undocumented persons and has threatened to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Stating that the University of San Francisco has approximately 80 undergraduate and graduate students who currently participate in the DACA program, Fr. Fitzgerald shared that these students are very afraid for themselves and their families. He noted that DACA recipients are especially vulnerable because they have provided the federal government with very detailed information about themselves in order to be granted DACA status. The DACA program was established in 2013 by the Obama administration to provide young people brought to the U.S. as children without documentation the opportunity to study and work legally in the U.S. Over 700,000 individuals are currently enrolled in the DACA program.
Numerous Jesuit college and university leaders recently signed on to a letter calling for the continuation of the DACA program. Joining the 90-plus signatories from private and public colleges and universities are Fr. Brian Linnane, S.J., president of Loyola University Maryland, Dr. Timothy Law Snyder, president of Loyola Marymount University, John J. DeGioia, president of Georgetown University, Fr. Michael Engh, S.J., president of Santa Clara University, Dr. Eugene Cornacchia, president of Saint Peter’s University, as well as Fr. Fitzgerald.
Late last week, the Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN), in partnership with the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, hosted a conference call for over 100 educators at Jesuit colleges and universities. During the call, faculty and administrators were able to have legal questions answered by staff from the Catholic Legal Immigration Network and share the ways their campuses are responding to the needs of undocumented students. A similar call was hosted by ISN for Jesuit high school and middle school faculty and administrators earlier this week. Listservs and resource websites have been established by ISN to further network these groups as they work with institutional leaders to determine how they will support undocumented students as well as other community members, including employees, family members, etc.