Empowering and Humanizing: Undocu Network Delegation at the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice


Nourishing deep bonds and planting new seeds of friendship have always been an integral part of the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice (IFTJ). In 2023, deepening bonds took on a new dimension as ISN’s Undocu Network sent an official delegation to IFTJ. This expanding community was initially launched by ISN in 2020 as a virtual gathering space for young adults in the Ignatian Network who are undocumented, hold temporary immigration status, or are from mixed-status families. 

Early 2022 marked the first in-person gathering of the Undocu Network, which has established an annual summit for community members, out of which a core organizing committee has developed. The four participants in the Undocu Network’s delegation to IFTJ this year are part of that core committee and are led by ISN staff person Jorge Palacios Jr. Three are undergraduate students, and one is a graduate student, representing Boston College, University of Detroit Mercy, and Marquette University, respectively.

Undocu Network Delegation at the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice

The Undocu Network Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice delegation outside the U.S. Capitol on Advocacy Day.

In preparation for IFTJ and the annual Undocu Summit in January 2024, the core committee gathered for a leadership retreat in September. Equally important as practical planning, the leaders got to know one another and their respective experiences, which is an integral dimension of the Undocu Network. Leaders also got to know ISN on a deeper level, which allowed them to better understand their roles and how they are representing Ignatian values in their advocacy. 

The Undocu Network hosted an IFTJ breakout session, titled “Building Connections Across Difference,” which reflected both the Undocu Network and ISN’s value of community building with an eye for social justice. Panelists spoke about their respective experiences and the breakout session raised awareness about the existence of the community of undocumented students and their allies for other IFTJ delegates. 

In addition to the breakout session, the Undocu Network delegation also hosted a luncheon for IFTJ delegates, which provided a more informal space for attendees to ask questions, share their experiences, and move toward the explicit objective connoted in the breakout session’s title. Jorge Palacios Jr.—whose role on ISN staff is as the migration coordinator for youth engagement—commented that the luncheon’s more informal setting allowed “high school students to bring up their anxieties about going to college, and allowed college students to respond to some of those concerns. The faculty and staff in attendance were chiming in as well.” Importantly, the students who were there as allies asked for talking points to take to their congressional leaders on Advocacy Day, which is held annually on Capitol Hill at the culmination of IFTJ. 

Undocu Network Delegation at the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice

Jonathan Mora speaks at the 2024 IFTJ Advocacy Day Public Witness outside of the U.S. Capitol.

Jonathan Mora, a core committee member and Boston College senior, chose to attend IFTJ as a delegate of the Undocu Network rather than as a delegate of Boston College because of his desire to prioritize his participation as an advocate for undocumented students. A transformative education studies student and the son of Mexican parents, Jonathan grew up in a mixed-status community in Worcester, MA. “Attending IFTJ felt amazing. I never would have thought I had the opportunity to go to Washington, D.C., in college,” reflected Mora. “It was really empowering to walk into [a] Senator’s office, and it humanized politics in a way that made me feel like I could become a politician someday.” 

The core committee leaders were joined by two Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration and their lay colleagues from Lacrosse, WI in advocacy meetings with Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin’s office. When staffers asked the respective group leaders—Palacios and the two religious sisters—if they had anything to add to what the student delegations were sharing, their response was: “we’re here to lift up the voices of these students.” Palacios expressed how moved he was to witness the students’ advocacy meetings after months of strategizing and is further encouraged by the responsibility the students have taken to follow up with their respective representatives’ offices.

1 reply
  1. Dr.Cajetan Coelho
    Dr.Cajetan Coelho says:

    Working to create a world that is brimming with justice is a beautiful mission. The Undocu Network delegation is showing the way.


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