BY ISN STAFF | November 13, 2019
Yesterday in Washington, D.C., members of the Jesuit network and broader Catholic community gathered for a Rosary Walk, calling attention to the U.S. Supreme Court hearing on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.The Rosary Walk was led by DACA recipients and activists in the faith community, including the Ignatian Solidarity Network’s director of education and advocacy for migration, José Arnulfo Cabrera, and culminated at the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court joining the national rally organized by the Home is Here campaign.
The Rosary Walk was co-organized by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Justice for Immigrants campaign along with core members, including the Ignatian Solidarity Network, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Faith in Public Life, the Jesuit Conference Office of Justice and Ecology, Franciscan Action Network, and the Leadership Conference of Catholic Religious, and with the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities.
During his opening remarks, José Arnulfo Cabrera, who is a DACA recipient and graduate of Xavier University, reminded attendees that “we are not just praying for the [Supreme Court] justices to be on the right side today. We’re praying for elected officials to wake up and to finally provide a solution for the 700,000 DACA recipients living in this country… It is time that they are recognized as the Americans that they grew up as and that they are.”
“We have a long fight to go and we need all the strength we can get [as we continue to fight for this],” he continued. “And so we’re praying for that strength, to keep going, and to keep that fire lit within ourselves.”
A delegation from Saint Peter’s University (SPU) in Jersey City, NJ was present at the Home Is Here rally. The school brings a unique perspective, situated in a part of the country that is home to families and individuals with a wide variety of immigration stories and statuses, which is represented on campus, as well.
The delegation included immigrant students, including DACA recipients, and allies. Students spoke of overwhelming emotion at the event—seeing the number of people who gathered in support of DACA recipients, and hearing personal stories. “I wish everyone could hear this, because it would just change so many hearts,” shared Loretta Graceffo, a junior at SPU who has attended ISN’s Ignatian Justice Summit on Immigration and the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice.
Another student*, a freshman at SPU, shared that growing up in a small, primarily white, affluent community as a DACA recipient, she never felt like she could relate to many people in her community. “Now coming to Saint Peter’s in the city, and with The Center for Undocumented Students at Saint Peter’s University…I wanted to come here to be with people like me and really get to fight for something that would affect me if it were taken away,” she explained. “Being at this event, It feels like there are people going through the same struggles you are going through—like not feeling alone in times of uncertainty. I didn’t expect to see this many people today, but I knew it would be something big. With people coming from my school, I feel like I have a community back home to keep fighting [for this issue].”
A junior at SPU*, who shared that she has lived in the U.S. for just five years, agreed, when talking about the Jesuit network presence at the event. “It feels like a sense of community that you’re not alone in this fight,” she shared. “That is one thing I love about Ignatian spirituality—being a person for others.”
“DACA recipients who have engaged in our work have shared with us tremendous fear regarding their ability to complete their education and pursue careers, their safety and the safety of their families, and their ability to remain part of communities that they have called home and contributed to for a significant portion of their lives,” said Christopher Kerr, executive director of the Ignatian Solidarity Network.
Across the country, schools, parishes, and other faith communities planned prayer vigils, advocacy events, and other activities in solidarity with those gathered in Washington, D.C. and in support of DACA recipients, through ISN’s Prayers of Hope campaign.
“This is a greater issue than politics,” shared Bridget Falzon, a junior at Manhattan College who helped organize a prayer vigil and advocacy event at the school. “This is about how people’s lives are affected on a day to day basis. That’s why I think it’s so important to take action.”
*Names omitted to protect the privacy of students.