BY ISN STAFF | August 29, 2017
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Educators at Jesuit schools and universities comprise a significant portion of the more than 1,400 educators at Catholic institutions, ranging from kindergarten through college, who are calling on the Trump administration to protect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) — a policy that currently protects from deportation up to 800,000 young immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.
In a moral mandate released this week, the educators said “We stand with our students who are DACA beneficiaries. Their perseverance, hard work and hopefulness is an example to us as teachers. We witness the obstacles they overcome each day as they pursue their dream of a better life for themselves and their families. In facing adversity and uncertainty with grace and hope, they embody the best of our schools, our country and the Catholic tradition.” The letter was sent to the administration via Retired General John Kelly, current Trump administration chief of staff and former Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
The Trump administration is considering ending the DACA program as early as this week. Ten state attorneys general, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, have issued an ultimatum to the Trump administration — end DACA by September 5, or face a challenge in federal court.
Signatories of the letter include over 25 presidents of Jesuit universities and high schools throughout the U.S. as well as Fr. Michael Sheeran, S.J., president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities; and Fr. Bill Muller, S.J., president of the Jesuit Schools Network. Educators represent all 28 Jesuit colleges and universities as well as a significant number of high school and lower elementary schools staffed by the Jesuits and lay colleagues across the country.
The letter was introduced to national media during a press conference held today via teleconference that included the following remarks:
“The Dreamers are woven into [Jesuit] schools and we have seen firsthand the challenges and adversity they have faced,” said Fr. Timothy Kesicki, S.J., president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, during the call. “We have also witnessed their great faith and courage which propels us to act at this time.”
Kesicki noted the “overwhelming support” for Dreamers in the form of over 1,200 educators at Jesuit schools and universities having signed the letter being sent to General Kelly. He closed his statement with a very clear message: “We express our support with the Catholic Bishops and call on the Trump administration to maintain DACA until a longer-term solution is achieved by Congress and ask Congressional leaders to work for real and lasting solutions that protect Dreamers and their families.”
“Do you want my talent to leave this country, and not just mine but also the 800,000 DACA recipients, to leave the United States?,” asked Jose Cabrera, a senior entrepreneurship major at Xavier University and DACA recipient. “It would be very difficult going back to being fully ‘undocumented,’” said Cabrera when asked about what it would be like to lose his DACA status. “I drive and my job depends on my ability to drive and my mom is on her own and I am the only who drives in my family.”
“It would be devastating to our communities and to us as a society to not make use of the incredible gifts the students bring us,” said Mark G. Kuczewski, Ph.D., a professor of medical ethics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. “We need DACA to continue and we need the DREAM Act so that they have a permanent status moving forward.”
Jesuit college and school presidents who signed on to the letter include: Chris Meyercord, President, Bellarmine College Preparatory; Fr. Philip Boroughs S.J., President, College of the Holy Cross; Fr. Daniel Hendrickson S.J., President, Creighton University; Paul Posoli , President, Cristo Rey Jesuit College Preparatory High School of Houston; Andrew Stith, President, Cristo Rey Jesuit Milwaukee High School; Fr. Joseph Parkes S.J., President, Cristo Rey New York High School; Corey Quinn Ph.D., President, De Smet Jesuit High School; Mark Nemec Ph.D., President, Fairfield University; Fr. Joseph McShane S.J., President, Fordham University; Linda LeMura Ph.D., President, Le Moyne College; Timothy Snyder Ph.D., President, Loyola Marymount University; Fr. Brian Linnane S.J., President, Loyola University Maryland
David Card , President, Regis Jesuit High School; Fr. John Fitzgibbons S.J., President, Regis University; Fr. Thomas Curran S.J., President, Rockhurst University; Fred Pestello Ph.D., President, Saint Louis University; Eugene Cornacchia Ph.D., President, Saint Peter’s University; Fr. Michael Engh S.J., President, Santa Clara University; Fr. Stephen Sundborg S.J., President, Seattle University; Fr. Carolyn Becic , President, St. Andrew Nativity School; Fr. Timothy Howe S.J., President, St. Xavier High School; Fr. Paul Fitzgerald S.J., President, University of San Francisco; Fr. Michael Mandala S.J., President, Verbum Dei High School; Fr. Karl Ertle , President, Walsh Jesuit High School; Fr. Chris Alling , President, Xavier College Preparatory High School; Fr. Michael Graham S.J., President, Xavier University; Jeanne Colleran Ph.D., Interim President, John Carroll University; and Fr. Herbert Keller S.J., Interim President, The University of Scranton.