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Jesuit Campuses, Student Government Presidents Advocate for DACA Recipients & Dream Act

BY ISN STAFFOctober 3, 2017

In response to the Tuesday, September 5 announcement that the Trump administration would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Jesuit colleges and universities across the U.S. will participate in a Dream Action Week from October 9-13, 2017.

Focus will center around the Dream Act, a bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate. The bill outlines a three-step pathway to citizenship “for people who are either undocumented, have DACA or temporary protected status (TPS), and who graduate from U.S. high schools and attend college, enter the workforce, or enlist in a military program.” This is a critical legislative opportunity to protect people who strengthen U.S. communities.

The action week, which was initiated at Loyola Marymount University, will invite administrative and student leaders at all Jesuit campuses to urge their campus communities to advocate for the Dream Act by calling their Senators, utilizing an action alert created in partnership with the Ignatian Solidarity Network. Each campus will plan additional educational, awareness, and advocacy events.

A card designed to promote Dream Act advocacy efforts on Jesuit campuses during Dream Action Week.

Last week, the student body presidents at all twenty-eight Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States released a letter in support of undocumented students and their allies, uniting as leaders on their campuses in response to the recent DACA decision and in anticipation of Dream Action Week.

Public Letter from Jesuit Student Government Association Presidents
September 28, 2017

In response to the recent announcement of the removal of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), the student body Presidents of the twenty-eight Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States publicly stand in solidarity with our undocumented students and their allies. We, as a collective unit, acknowledge that this is a human issue that will impact over 800,000 members of our nation. Immigrants have played a crucial part in the foundation of this nation and have dreams and aspirations like any other person; these dreams should be preserved and kept sacred just as any other.

As colleges and universities rooted in the Jesuit traditions, our students are called to engage in the discourse and advocate for a more just and equitable world. In the face of injustice, we are challenged to practice a high level of discernment and allow our knowledge and experiences to inform our actions of being with and for others. It is important to emphasize that our unifying mission underlines the commitment to all people, regardless of national origin and documentation status. Any action and policy that seeks to divide and tear us apart should never be accepted and thereby calls for our total resistance to such.

With that being said, the student body Presidents of Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States will:

  • Work on behalf of our constituents to start the chain of calling our representatives.
  • Orchestrate educational efforts for students to learn more about the topics of immigration and DACA and how it relates to our Jesuit mission.
  • Strive to engage our students in dialogue and/or demonstrations that denounce the removal of this program.
  • Promote action off-campus to stand with the rest of the country in creating a greater understanding of the need for DACA and garnering more support of Congressional legislation.
  • Remind students of the appropriate resources on our respective campuses that support the spiritual, psychological, and emotional well-being of our students in order to uphold the value of cura personalis (care for the whole person).

With this statement, we encourage all students to treat this recent announcement of the removal of the DACA program as a call to action to stand with and contest this decision alongside those at the margins. We would like to highlight the importance of becoming educated on the matters at hand, participating in public protest, and communicating with your respective legislators to enact change. The understanding of our privilege must be utilized to realize our roles as higher education institutions in catalyzing social change in our contemporary world. We urge our peers across the country to stand together and for our undocumented students.

Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published as part of the Ignatian Solidarity Network Voices for Justice blog series.

Jesuit Network Reacts to DACA Repeal Decision

BY ISN STAFF | September 6, 2017

Editor’s Note: The listing is not exhaustive and will be updated with additional statements and actions as they are made available.  To request the addition of a statement, event, or action, please e-mail Kelly Swan at kswan@ignatiansolidarity.net.

On Tuesday, September 5, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump administration would end the DACA program—undermining the dignity of 800,000 undocumented young people.

Jesuit institutions throughout the country have established themselves as institutions of learning accessible to a diverse range of students, including those who are undocumented. The Jesuit network—including the Jesuit Conference, Association of Jesuit College and Universities, the Ignatian Solidarity Network, and various schools and student groups—has quickly mobilized to offer support and begin to take action as advocates for the dignity of those affected by this decision on DACA.

Fr. Timothy Kesicki, S.J., president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, on Tuesday released a Letter from the Jesuits on the Trump Administration’s Rescission of DACA. He spoke of the Jesuit network’s continued to commitment to educating undocumented students, reflecting that students “came to us for an education, you came for pastoral and spiritual guidance, and we welcomed you — not because of your nationality — but because you are our brothers and sisters in Christ. No government can tear that sacred bond.”

He went on to both call on Congress to act swiftly to find a long term solution for DACA recipients, and went on to affirm that “more than ever, we commit ourselves to living out God’s law, which calls on us to love the stranger, remembering that our ancestors in faith were once strangers in a foreign land.”

The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities in a statement echoed many of Fr. Kesicki’s points and calls to action, and strongly affirmed that “the nation’s 28 Jesuit colleges and universities will make every effort to protect the Dreamers among our students and alumni.”

Students, faculty, and staff at various Jesuit institutions immediately mobilized both on campus and in their communities, calling attention to the personal impact of this decision.

Loyola University Chicago undocumented students and allies at a September 5 rally.

Loyola University Chicago
Rally for Undocumented Students | September 5, 2017
Shared by an undocumented student at Loyola University Chicago at the rally: “Our students, regardless of their immigration status are members of our community. . . .There is only solidarity here.”

Students gather for “Prayer Vigil in Solidarity with Young Immigrants” on the campus of the College of the Holy Cross on the evening of September 5. In the background, Campion House, home of the Office of College Chaplains, can be seen, where candles will remain lit in the windows as a sign of welcome and solidarity with those impacted by DACA.

College of the Holy Cross
Prayer Vigil in Solidarity with Young Immigrants | September 5, 2017
On the evening of September 5, approximately 300 faculty, staff, and students gathered in prayer for the undocumented, particularly DACA recipients.
Shared by an undocumented College of the Holy Cross student at the vigil: “Fellow members of the undocumented community and allies, I encourage you to remember the power of community.  Acknowledge each others pain, suffering, and insecurities.  Maximize your resources to support each other.  Combat fear with love.  Defend love and do not let others be dehumanized on your watch.  A people united will never be defeated.”

Loyola Marymount University Media Response
Loyola Marymount University students speak out |  live phone interview for HLN
A teacher makes the Christian case to keep DACA | America Magazine
Cecilia González-Andrieu, associate professor of theological studies at Loyola Marymount University and ISN board member

Associated Students of Loyola Marymount University
Letter to Undocumented Students

Statements from Jesuit institutions:

Letter to Campus Community-DACA
Xavier University
Rev. Michael Graham, S.J., President

Statement regarding DACA announcement
Creighton University
Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, S.J., President

A Statement on DACA
Santa Clara University
Rev. Michael E. Engh, S.J., President

We Stand With Our Dreamers
Loyola Marymount University
Timothy Law Snyder, Ph.D., President

Statement on the Rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program
Loyola University Chicago
Jo Ann Rooney, JD, LLM, EdD, President

Letter from the President
Seattle University
Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J., President

Letter from the President
University of San Francisco
Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J., President

Marquette University leaders show support for students affected by DACA announcement
Marquette University
Dr. Michael R. Lovell, President
Dr. Daniel J. Myers, Provost
Dr. Xavier A. Cole, Vice President for Student Affairs
Dr. William C. Welburn, Executive Director, Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion

Letter to the Campus Community Regarding DACA
College of the Holy Cross
Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J., President

McShane Endorses Statement Made by the AJCU on DACA
Fordham University
Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., President

Statement About the Termination of DACA
John Carroll University
Dr. Jeanne Colleran, Interim President
Dr. Nicholas R. Santilli, Interim Provost and Academic Vice President
Dr. Mark McCarthy, Vice President for Student Affairs
Dr. Edward Peck, Vice President for University Mission and Identity

The Revocation of DACA and the Road Ahead
Canisius College
John Hurley, President

Statement on the DACA Executive Order
Saint Joseph’s University
Mark C. Reed Ed.D., President

A Call for Support of Undocumented Students
University of Scranton
Rev. Herbert B. Keller, S.J., Interim President

Statement on DACA
Boston College
Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J., President

SLU Response to the Decision to Rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program
Saint Louis University
Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D., President

We regret the end of DACA; “We will not give up in defense of ‘Dreamers'”
Mexican Province of the Society of Jesus

Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published as part of the Ignatian Solidarity Network Voices for Justice blog series.

Jesuit Higher Education Leaders Respond to President Trump’s Executive Order

BY ISN STAFF January 30, 2017

Last week President Trump issued an executive order that banned indefinitely Syrian refugees from entering the U.S., suspended all refugee admissions for 120 days, and blocked citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, refugees or otherwise, from entering the United States for 90 days: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

Community and faith leaders across the country have made public statements about these actions, expressing concerns for the dignified treatment of vulnerable populations and offering assurances of protection and respect for individuals who may be affected in some way. In particular, leaders expressed support for community members who are Muslim and were specifically targeted by the refugee and immigration announcements made on Friday.

Presidents of Jesuit colleges and universities were some of the many higher education leaders who spoke out in support of these communities with statements shared via e-mail and social media over the past few days.

Citing the executive order focused on Muslim-majority countries, Fr. Bill Leahy, S.J. and fellow administrators at Boston College, in a statement published on the college’s website, said “the order is also contrary to American understandings of this nation’s role as a refuge and its place as a society that does not discriminate on the basis of religion or national origin.” Fr. Leahy also said that Boston College is committed to ensuring that all community members feel “safe and valued.”

Jack DeGioia, Ph.D., president of Georgetown University, noted that the university places special emphasis on “interreligious dialogue” and an “openness to different faith traditions and cultures” in a statement published on the university website and shared via his university Facebook account. He also noted Georgetown’s desire to support a “diverse and vibrant Muslim community,” on the university campus.  Dr. DeGioia closed the statement with the following message: “In this moment of challenge and uncertainty, we have an ever more urgent responsibility to care for one another, to empathize with those in need, to dedicate our knowledge to service, and to place above all the betterment of humankind,” and challenged the community to be animated by the call to action.

“We find enrichment and strength in our diversity,” noted Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J., president of Seattle University, in a statement made available on the university website. Citing the Jesuit mission of the university, he stated declaratively that the university “strongly opposes the discriminatory and misguided executive order issued by the Trump administration on non-U.S. citizens from select countries.”

Writing a message while attending a series of higher education network meetings in Washington, D.C., Fred Pestello, Ph.D., president of Saint Louis University, issued a statement in which he spoke decisively about those who could be impacted by the executive action, saying the university “will take every action within the law to protect all members of our community, including Muslim students and faculty” who are in the U.S. on visas.

Muslim female students at John Carroll University participate in a “Living the Mission” panel in March of 2014. [John Carroll University]

In a statement addressed to the John Carroll University community, Fr. Robert Niehoff, S.J., the school’s president, noted that the university stands with a number of higher education networks, including the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU), and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) in advocating for “sensible immigration policies that do not discriminate against our students, faculty, and staff, while still protecting national security.”

Citing the ideals of diversity, equity, and inclusion, Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J., president of Loyola University Maryland affirmed in a statement “that diversity in the Loyola community includes individuals and their families who are refugees, immigrants, or not U.S. citizens.” He went on to further state that “because the seven nations included in the executive order are predominantly Muslim countries, I also want to assure those members of our community who are Muslim that they remain most welcome and valued members of our community.”

Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, S.J., president of Creighton University stated concern surrounding the diminishment of the strength of American universities’ research and education if the numbers of international students and faculty are sharply limited, and went on to affirm the commitment of the university, guided by Jesuit ideals, to “reach out in support of immigrants and refugees.”

As interim president at Fairfield University, Lynn Babington referenced in a statement then-President, Jeffrey P. von Arx S.J.’s December signature of both the statement in support of the retention of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA), as well as the AJCU’s statement of ongoing support for undocumented immigrant students. Babington, with the rest of the administration at Fairfield, commits to “uphold and advocate for the rights of international students, faculty and staff to continue their education, research and other work.”

“Though we do not know the ultimate outcome of the president’s order (nor subsequent orders and legislation),” stated Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham University, “please be assured that Fordham University stands with the tens of thousands of refugees and would-be immigrants affected by these laws. We have a long history as a University of and for immigrants, in a city and a nation built by immigrants.”

Gonzaga University President Thayne M. McCulloh in a statement affirmed the university’s fundamental commitments, reflected in the Mission Statement, to “. . . (the) dignity of the human person, social justice, diversity, intercultural competence, global engagement, solidarity with the poor and vulnerable, and care for the planet,” particularly in relation to immigrant and “undocumented” students. 

In a statement, Linda LeMura, president of LeMoyne College affirmed the school’s commitment to immigrants and refugees, and suggested action to be taken, including: “Donate to or volunteer at local agencies such as Catholic Charities and Interfaith Works, which support the resettlement of refugees to Syracuse; donate to the ACLU; and attend campus lectures and programs coordinated by the Muslim Student Association, Multicultural Affairs, and faculty on topics of inclusion.”

“Members of our LMU family are persons for and with others; affiliating them with terrorists violates their dignity, along with what has made and continues to make America great,” stated Loyola Marymount University President Timothy Law Snyder.

Loyola University Chicago President Jo Ann Rooney issued the following words to the university community, responding to the fear and uncertainty expressed by many: “I want you to know that the University continues to advocate on a multitude of fronts, including local, regional, and national levels. Our focus is on ensuring the protection and dignity of all of the members of our community and society. For those feeling frightened or vulnerable in light of recent events, I hope to offer some solace as you do not stand alone in facing the future. Loyola University Chicago stands with you in solidarity and with moral clarity. We will never stop advocating to fashion a peaceful and just society that our faith calls us to build.”

Kevin Wm. Wildes, S.J., president of Loyola University New Orleans in a statement offered affirmation of Jesuit, Catholic values in relation to acceptance of refugees, and offered words of prayer: “Give comfort to the more than 30,000 people worldwide who are forcibly displaced from their homes every day because of violence that is an affront to you. And heal the wounds of national, racial, and religious division so that we may always choose compassion over fear, hospitality over indifference, and human dignity over political expedience.”

“We are steadfast in our commitment to serve all as a welcoming learning community that is open to people from a wide variety of backgrounds, perspectives and national origins,” stated Marquette University President Michael R. Lovell. “Let’s remember the larger American story. We are a nation of immigrants.”

In statement from Rockhurst University President Rev. Thomas B Curran, S.J., the words of Pope Francis were quoted in relation to U.S. Immigration Policy: “Remember that authentic hospitality is a profound gospel value that nurtures love and is our greatest security against hateful acts of terrorism.”

In a statement emailed to the university community, Saint Peter’s University President Dr. Eugene Cornacchia stated the following: “We are a nation of immigrants. My father was an immigrant. I am the grandson of immigrants. My mother-in-law was an immigrant. In my time teaching at Saint Peter’s University I have taught students from a wide variety of faith traditions and nationalities. They have greatly enriched the classroom experience for everyone and have also contributed to a richer social and cultural environment on campus, and in our nation and world. I am a better teacher, administrator, father and grandfather – a better human being – because I have come to know people of many different backgrounds.”

“This executive order lies in sharp contrast to our mission to care for the most marginalized among us, and to cultivate the cross-cultural understanding that is necessary to address the tremendous problems facing our divided world,” explained Fr. Michael E. Engh, S.J., president of Santa Clara University. “The actions of the White House have caused fear and anxiety among many of our international students, and we are committed to caring for them so they may continue their studies and pursue their dreams.”

Donald Heller, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at the University of San Francisco, strongly asserted in a statement to the campus community: “You are not alone. Yet the uncertainty of what lies ahead makes us all anxious and fearful. We are fortunate at USF and in the city of San Francisco that resources are available to assist, advise, and counsel. Neither is USF alone. We have joined with Jesuit institutions and academic associations nationally and internationally to build strength and advocacy.”

A statement from University of Scranton President Kevin P. Quinn, S.J. affirmed Jesuit and Catholic solidarity with immigrants and refugees, and asserted that “welcoming neighbors from distant shores aligns with our American ideals and is a bedrock of our history in Northeastern Pennsylvania as well.”

“Xavier prepares students for a world that is increasingly diverse, complex and interdependent,” stated Xavier University President Fr. Mike Graham, S.J.  “Furthermore, our Jesuit tradition compels us to be people for and with others. Driven by these commitments, I want to be clear that Xavier will remain steadfastly committed to being a diverse and inclusive community. All are welcome here regardless of faith, national origin or immigration status.”

These statements by Jesuit college and university leaders come less than two months after twenty-seven Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities presidents signed a statement in support of undocumented students and called for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to be sustained in some capacity. Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, President Trump suggested that he would end the DACA program but has not yet issued an executive order to do so. Congressional leaders have initiated a legislative response known as the BRIDGE Act which would sustain the opportunities for undocumented young people brought to the U.S. as children, offering benefits similar to those currently received by DACA recipients. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, and Ignatian Solidarity Network have all publicly supported the passage of the BRIDGE Act if President Trump does take action to eliminate DACA.

Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published as part of the Ignatian Solidarity Network News From the Network series.