Immigrant Student National Position Paper

JVA remarks
Feb. 26/13
SD-G50, Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington D.C.
7:15 a.m.

Thank You, Rick [Ryscavage, S. J.]


[If Partner Presidents are not already standing on stage, invite them up]

Good morning everyone, and on behalf of Fairfield University and our Center for Faith and Public Life, I'd like to thank you all for taking the time to join us for the presentation of our Immigrant Student National Position Paper, a study of undocumented students at the 28 Jesuit Colleges and Universities in the United States.

This multi-year study came about thanks to the cooperative effort of a number of institutions and agencies.

First, I'd like to thank and introduce our partner research institutions - the research team from Loyola University Chicago's Center for Urban Research and Learning, and the research team from Santa Clara University. I'd also like to thank those who worked with us from Saint Peter's University, the University of Detroit Mercy, and Loyola Marymount University, who also partnered with us in the work of gathering and assessing our research. Together, these six institutions are representative of the breadth and variety of Jesuit education in the United States, including research universities with large professional and graduate schools, to smaller all-undergraduate universities with a large number of part-time and commuter students.

I'd also like to thank the members of the Executive Planning Committee who helped coordinate today's event, many of whom are with us this morning.

I'd like to offer a special thanks to Christopher Kerr, Executive Director of the Ignatian Solidarity Network, who coordinated the student engagement portion of our day.

We have over 50 students from seven Jesuit colleges and universities with us today. Following this morning's briefing, they will depart for meetings with their respective hometown Representatives and Senators.

Thank you to Chris for making this possible; thank you to the students for your presence.

We are all here because we share a concern for the millions of our undocumented neighbors in this country, and in particular for the plight of those young men and women who - brought here as young children - have been raised and educated in the United States, lived their entire lives here, but do not possess the right to legal residency, and therefore face significant challenges when it comes time for them to pursue higher education and careers.

Sharing that concern with us is the Ford Foundation, and it is thanks to the funding grant that we received from the Ford Foundation that we were able to pursue this study - so, many thanks to them.

We'd like to thank New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez for responding to a constituent's request to use a room in the Senate Office buildings so that we were able to make this presentation in the Capital today. Thank you Senator.

As Jesuit and Catholic institutions, the 28 members of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities have a specific mission and obligation to work in the service of the promotion of justice. This mission is an inheritance that goes all the way back to the first Jesuit school, established by St. Ignatius of Loyola in Messina, Sicily, in 1548. The clear and explicit vision of Jesuit education has always been - in the words of Ignatius himself - to "help souls," and we continue to try to discover the ways in which we are called to "help souls" in whatever social, cultural, political, and historical context that we find ourselves as educators.

This being so, we have an obligation in mission to the support of undocumented students in our universities and colleges.

In support of our research, and in anticipation of our presentation this morning, 24 of the 28 Presidents of our Jesuit colleges and universities have signed a statement of support. That statement - which you can find in your folders - notes that Catholic Social Teaching is clear in its insistence that every human person deserves dignity and the opportunity to better one's state in life, and that therefore, we as Jesuit educators are opposed to any public policies that separate human families living peacefully amongst us.

Further, we recognize that the history of Jesuit institutions of higher education in the United States has always been linked to first and second-generation immigrant populations. We have always - in our mission - sought to provide opportunities for education to disenfranchised members of our society, and it is our explicitly and acknowledged mission to "prioritize the education" of "vulnerable and underserved students."

We pledge to continue to respect this tradition and to foster cura personalis, care for the entire person, as a hallmark of our institutions of learning.

Finally, this statement of support affirms that Jesuit colleges and universities are morally committed environments, with a preferential option to serve those sectors of society that have been marginalized, and that we recognize - jointly and in solidarity as institutions - that those living in our country, especially young people, without authorization meet that criterion.  We will continue to support our students - both documented citizens and not - as full members of our campus communities.

Joining us today are a number of signatories of that statement. They include:

Mr. John J. Hurley, JD, President of Canisius College
Dr. Fred P. Pestello, President of Le Moyne College
Mr. David W. Burcham, JD, President of Loyola Marymount University.
The Rev. Michael J. Garanzini, President of Loyola University Chicago.
The Rev. Scott Pilarz, S.J., President of Marquette University.
Dr. Eugene Cornacchia, President of St. Peter's University.
The Rev. Michael Engh, President of Santa Clara University.
The Rev. Stephen V. Sunborg, President of Seattle University.
Dr. Antoine M. Garibaldi, President of the University of Detroit Mercy.
The Rev. Stephen A. Privett, President of the University of San Francisco.
And the Rev. Kevin Quinn, President of the University of Scranton.

We thank them all for joining us this morning and for their support.

Again, thanks to all of you for being here with us.

Now, I'd like to introduce Fr. Gregory Lucey, President of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities and Dr. Thomas C. Mans, Vice President of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities... .