Last week, more than 65 presidents of Catholic colleges and universities — including Loyola University New Orleans, Rockhurst University, Spring Hill College and 10 other Jesuit universities — joined the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities in urging Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to clarify the Trump administration's immigration enforcement policies regarding students with Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status.
In a letter coordinated by Faith in Public Life, the presidents asked Secretary Kelly, who is Catholic, to take steps to protect immigrant students at risk of deportation.
"As Catholics, our shared faith calls us to protect the most vulnerable among us," wrote the presidents. "Over the years, we have opened the doors of our colleges and universities to 'Dreamers' and advocated for comprehensive immigration reform so that they and their families can live safe, full lives in our country. In these uncertain times, we will continue to do everything we can to protect our students, and we urge you to join us in this pursuit."
The presidents also requested a meeting with Secretary Kelly.
"We would like to better understand how immigration enforcement agencies in the Department of Homeland Security, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), approach DACA holders during targeted enforcement actions, police encounters, or in public. The statements from ICE regarding the detentions and deportations of DACA holders have alarmed us and our students."
In their letter, the presidents cited at least 10 cases in which DACA holders who have not committed criminal offenses were detained.
"Attorneys and advocates have reported that at least one DACA-protected young man was deported. In addition, recent actions and statements by Immigration and Customs Enforcement about young people who met the DACA criteria raise many questions about the safety of our students."
The latest letter follows a letter Catholic college and university presidents sent in November, pledging their support for DACA and undocumented students.
"We remain committed to supporting our students as they face legal and financial uncertainties," said the presidents. "The DACA policy has enabled our students to continue their studies and pursue careers in their chosen fields, from education to medicine, despite great anxiety and uncertainty. The academic year will conclude in May, and many of these students will leave campuses for internships, summer programs, and jobs. Our prayer is that they return."
To read the full letter, click here.