“Looking Beyond Borders” provides students at both the high school and elementary level an opportunity learn about the reality of life for people who are displaced, refugees, or migrants.

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 [email protected].

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.

BY KELLY SWAN | September 6, 2017

Growing up as a son of immigrants in a segregated, vulnerable community in Milwaukee, Eduardo Perea-Hernandez saw Marquette University as a “Harvard”—picturesque, prestigious, with a nationally-renowned basketball team.

“As a Latino child, you don’t see anyone of your kind at these institutions,” remembers Perea-Hernandez. “But if you do see one or two from your neighborhood attend college at Marquette you think—‘I’m going to do that too.’”

“I grew up in the south side of Milwaukee, the Latino section of town, where drugs, prostitution, and shootings were a norm, education levels are low, and teen pregnancy is high,” shares Perea-Hernandez. “However, the Latino community is very rich in culture and intellect…. There is so much talent inside of every individual in the community, they just need the guidance of a school like Nativity to help them realize their potential.”

He attended Nativity Jesuit Middle School, where, as a sixth grader, he learned Jesuit values, leadership skills, and the powerful idea that he could contribute to his community. “As an 11-year-old,” he shares, “I realized that my Latino community is meant for bigger than this.”

[tweet_box design=”box_07″ float=”none”]I realized that my Latino community is meant for bigger than this.[/tweet_box]

Nativity, a school whose mission is to educate Latino youth for Christian leadership and service, changed the trajectory of Perea-Hernandez’s life, exposing him “to the solution to many problems a young Latino kid from the ‘hood faces.” Rather than an authoritarian school structure, Perea-Hernandez explains that he was given “the educational tools that allowed me to think thoroughly about my decisions to make the good ones, and when I chose wrongly I learned to recover from it. Nativity taught me how to be a leader in my household, community, and city.”

After middle school, Perea-Hernandez entered Marquette University High School, an all-boys school enrolling a very different demographic from Nativity. Many of his classmates were entirely unaware of the realities of immigration. “I became more and more vocal throughout high school,” he remembers. “I wanted to give them facts about why people migrate.”

Eduardo Perea-Hernandez is now a first-generation college attendee, a senior fulfilling his dream of enrolling at Marquette University. Nonetheless, he expresses some frustration with his campus culture. “I thought students would be more socially aware,” he explains. “But it is much like high school,” with few students of color or immigrants, primarily from suburban Jesuit high schools.

However, the university has given him a safe space and support to raise awareness surrounding issues that administrators and non-minority students do not experience—struggles familiar to students of color and undocumented and other immigrant students.

Eva Martinez Powless is director of Intercultural Engagement at Marquette University. Her work is to give voice to students like Perea-Hernandez. Martinez Powless immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico, and through her work is uniquely situated to provide support to the entire campus multicultural community. She is the founder of the school’s undocumented student taskforce and runs a group for Dreamer students at Marquette.

In 2016, a group of students from Youth Empowered to Succeed (YES) program at Marquette were seeking to explore ways to improve the campus experience for undocumented students. Through connections in the immigration advocacy community, Martinez Powless was aware of a gala to benefit Dreamer students in Chicago. She proposed the idea to the student group, who were immediately enthusiastic about the idea.

The first Dreamers’ Gala was held at the University in March of 2016, entirely student-initiated and student-led, benefitting the new Ignacio Ellacuria Dreamers Scholarship. The gala raised $28,000 in just the first year with 180 attendees.

Martinez Powless notes that the gala was able to create a unique alumni affinity group of multicultural alumni who may not have typically donated to the university, as well as significant support in the Milwaukee community.

The Ignacio Ellacuria, S.J., Dreamers Scholarship Gala is a student-led initiative that aims to raise money to create a scholarship for undocumented students who wish to attend Marquette University.

Perea-Hernandez has seen undocumented friends from his home neighborhood in Milwaukee struggle to fund a college education, with the lack of availability of federal grants and loans for undocumented students. As a college freshman, he learned of the gala initiative, which older students had already put in motion, talking to university administrators and gaining campus support.

“We have had a very diverse group working on this.” He explains that student support of the scholarship has extended beyond the Hispanic community, as it is available to undocumented students of any background. “We are working together to make this happen; this is a product of the minority community coming together.”

The group’s goal was to raise $50,000 over the course of a handful of years to fully endow the scholarship for long-term sustainability.

Members of the Ignacio Ellacuria, S.J., Dreamers Scholarship Gala Committee, including Eduardo Perea-Hernandez, bottom right.

During his winter break freshman year, Perea-Hernandez became involved in gala planning, translating promotional materials, creating introductory packets, and reaching out to local, state, and national individuals and groups for support—diving into grassroots mobilization and fundraising with fellow students. He eventually joined the organizing committee in rallying local media attention, recruiting student talent for a gala performance, and engaging student artists from other Milwaukee schools.

Lupe Serna, a sophomore in the College of Education, showcases her artwork as a representation of the obstacles encountered by undocumented students in higher education.

Perea-Hernandez was also uniquely positioned to gain support from the local Hispanic community, being one of the few organizers originally from Milwaukee. His approach pulled from his Jesuit values and social justice vision, and liberation theology. “We’ve learned that we can count on our own community support, our own people,” he explains. “The community rallies around this project to help students in Milwaukee with hopes and dreams of going to Marquette some day.”

Vice President of Student Affairs, Dr. Xavier Cole, shows his support for the Ignacio Ellacuria, S.J., Dreamers Scholarship with other community members.

The second gala was held in March of 2017, drawing more than 220 attendees and raising more than $30,000, allowing for the scholarship to be fully endowed in less than two years. Scholarships are small as the program grows, offering $1,000 and $2,000 annual scholarships, but Martinez Powless anticipates rapid expansion of the program in coming years. Qualifications are simple—applicants must be undocumented, demonstrate financial need, be academically high-achieving with leadership experience, and must submit an essay about how the scholarship would enhance their life.

[tweet_box design=”box_07″ float=”none”]This program sends a message of hope—as a #Jesuit university we support #undocumented students.[/tweet_box]

She is excited about the growing involvement of the Milwaukee community in gala and fundraising efforts, including business owners, immigration lawyers, and others. “This program sends a message of hope to undocumented students—that as a Jesuit university we support undocumented students.”

Eva Martinez Powless and Eduardo Perea-Hernandez at the 2017 gala.

In addition to Marquette administrators’ support of the scholarship, efforts of Martinez Powless’ programs and work from students on campus also led to a statement in support of undocumented students from Provost Dr. Daniel J. Myers and Dr. Xavier Cole, Vice President for Student Affairs.

Perea-Hernandez is equally optimistic. “Right now, it seems like we’re going in the right direction,” he shares. “We will continue to hold our campus and administrators accountable to Jesuit values. Equally, undocumented students have to continue to have space to tell their stories to get things done. Exposing yourself is scary, but it makes an impact—sharing these stories makes everything more relevant, more human.”

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