Catholic College Presidents Defend Undocumented Students

December 1, 2016

About 80 member presidents of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities have signed a statement in support of students who have benefited from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, under which more than 700,000 young people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children have gained temporary protection from deportation and two-year renewable work permits. President-elect Donald J. Trump has said he would end the program, which was created by President Obama in what critics view as an overreach of his executive authority.

“We, the undersigned presidents of Catholic colleges and universities, express hope that the students in our communities who have qualified for DACA are able to continue their studies without interruption and that many more students in their situation will be welcome to contribute their talents to our campuses,” said the statement from the college presidents, which went on to quote the pope.

“When Pope Francis visited the United States last year, he had this to say to the World Meeting of Families gathered in Philadelphia: 'Among us today are members of America’s large Hispanic population, as well as representatives of recent immigrants to the United States. Many of you have emigrated (I greet you warmly!) to this country at great personal cost, in the hope of building a new life. Do not be discouraged by whatever hardships you face. I ask you not to forget that, like those who came here before you, you bring many gifts to this nation.' We are committed to educating these young people, brought to the United States by their parents, who come to our universities to build for themselves and us a brighter future.”

A group of 28 Jesuit college and university leaders signed a separate statement issued Wednesday on undocumented students. In the statement the Jesuit college leaders pledge "to protect to the fullest extent of the law undocumented students on our campuses"; "to promote retention of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA)"; "to support and stand with our students, faculty and staff regardless of their faith traditions"; and "to preserve the religious freedoms on which our nation was founded."

Apart from the statements from the Catholic and Jesuit college presidents, a letter in support of DACA from leaders of all types of higher education institutions had been signed by more than 400 college presidents as of noon Eastern time on Wednesday.

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