Catholic Relief Services Releases Book on Migration

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) recently released a book on migration entitled Global Migration: What’s Happening, Why, and a Just Response, as a part of their newest Faculty Learning Commons academic modules on migration. The book, written by Elizabeth Collier from Dominican University and Charles Strain from DePaul University, unpacks the complex issues surrounding modern migration, including the reasons people might need or choose to leave their country of origin, and the laws, treaties, and resources that dictate the opportunities of migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced people upon resettling.

Migration

This text offers personal narratives, principles for critical thinking drawn from Catholic social teaching, and opportunities for action from the individual to the international level.  Focused on the humanitarian work of CRS throughout the world, Global Migration inspires reflection, provokes discussion and empowers students to respond to today’s greatest humanitarian crisis.

This book is a part of the Faculty Learning Commons, online course materials for use in existing college and university classes to enrich the understanding of pressing issues in light of Catholic social teaching. The latest modules for Fall 2017-Spring 2018 are focused on migration.

Video Conference: Supporting Undocumented Students in a New Political Landscape

Join Ignatian Solidarity Network on Thursday, February 16 at 3 PM EST for an online conversation with Jesuit college and university faculty and administrators on how to support students who are undocumented. A new political landscape in the U.S. has brought with it unique realities for people in the without documentation, including students at Jesuit colleges and universities. How are faculty and administrators responding to the changing reality facing these students?

Panelists include:

Jennifer Ayala, Ph.D.
Director of The Center for Undocumented Students
Saint Peter’s University

Anna J. Brown
Chair, Department of Political Science
Saint Peter’s University

Kevin Mahaney
Associate Director of Student Financial Services
Georgetown University

Arelis Palacios
Undocumented Students Advisor, Division of Student Affairs
Georgetown University

Joe Saucedo
Director, Department of Student Diversity & Multicultural Affairs
Loyola University Chicago

To learn more or to register, visit the Ignatian Solidarity Network website.

Catholic Colleges Host Events in Solidarity with Immigrants

Twelve Catholic colleges and universities hosted events in solidarity with immigrant brothers and sisters on January 19, as a part of the Ignatian Solidarity Network‘s call to prayer, Prayers of Light.

Saint Peter’s University hosted a prayer service featuring a student choir and students sharing their experience of being undocumented. The service ended with an opportunity to contact Congress on behalf of humane immigration policies.

Students at Loyola University Maryland held a walking candlelight vigil during the busy lunch hour at the campus student center.

Other colleges and universities that held events for the day of prayer include: Fairfield University, Xavier University, John Carroll University, Canisius College, Loyola University of Chicago, Marquette University, Saint Louis University, Gonzaga University, University of San Francisco, and Spring Hill College.

The purpose of the call to prayer was to illuminate, through solidarity and action, the dignity of our immigrant brothers and sisters, and the value of each person’s contribution to our country.  To see prayers and resources related to the event, visit the Ignatian Solidarity Network website.

How are you practicing solidarity on your campus? Share your story with us! Email Lexie Bradley.

University of Dayton Graduate Reflects on Study Abroad in Chile for National Migration Week

Sister of Charity of Cincinnati Tracy Kemme, an alumna of the University of Dayton, reflects on her experience in Chile while studying abroad as an undergraduate student for Global Sisters Report in honor of National Migration Week.

Thinking on her experience in Chile, she remembers “I got a taste of the beautiful diversity of the people of God. Our world is much bigger than I could have imagined growing up in the suburbs of Cincinnati, where most people looked, talked and thought like me. Over plates of arroz con pollo in sweltering little houses, the “poor” of Latin America catechized me. In building cross-cultural relationships, I’ve witnessed and felt the splendor of a mutual exchange of cultural goodness. My mind has been opened through honest conversations about the shadow side of cultures, including, and especially, my own. Perhaps most significantly, my experiences of being the “stranger” have made me a more compassionate “welcomer.”

Kemme encourages all readers to have experiences where they become a “stranger” by traveling to new places or neighborhoods to live the theme of this year’s National Migration Week, Creating a Culture of Encounter.

Read the full article here.

Prayers of Light: A Call to Prayer for Immigrants

The Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN) is organizing a day of prayer on January 19, 2017 as a way “to illuminate the dignity of our immigrant brothers and sisters, and the value of each individual’s contribution to the country.” They offer resources and ideas for organizing prayer on that day on their website.

ISN offers ideas of how to become involved:

  • Host a prayer service or intention a Mass at your campus, parish, or organization for immigrants
  • Use symbols of light such as vigil candles as a part of your prayer experience
  • Lift up the stories of immigrant members of your community
  • Invite the local community to join you in prayer
  • Pray for our new governmental leaders to enact policies that illuminate the dignity of immigrant brothers and sisters
  • Create environments of prayer that focus on illuminating the social teachings of our Catholic faith and other faith traditions

More resources and prayers are available on their website.

Catholic College and University Presidents Sign Statement of Support for Undocumented Students

Over 100 Catholic college and university presidents have signed a statement of support of undocumented students. The statement, sponsored by ACCU, pledges support of students who have been approved for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and expresses hope that their studies will be allowed to continue uninterrupted. Those who signed “pledge to support these students – through our campus counseling and ministry support, through legal resources from those campuses with law schools and legal clinics, and through whatever other services we may have at our disposal.”

The statement reflects on Pope Francis’ commitment to immigrants and refugees, especially in his recent visit to the United States. The statement included signatures of presidents of Catholic colleges and universities from across the country. They find support in the long history of American Catholic higher education institutions educating students from diverse backgrounds and welcoming those on the margins.

Read the full statement on the ACCU website.

Catholic Colleges Support Immigrant Students

In response to the heated political debate on the issue of immigration, Archbishop of Los Angeles José H. Gomez, in a September lecture at Boston College, spoke of the importance of not letting statistics cloud our vision of the people who make up the numbers. Gomez explained that it is a Christian call “to remember that behind every statistic is a soul — a soul who has dignity as a child of God, a soul who has rights and needs that are both spiritual and material.”

Catholic universities are embracing this person-centered approach through their policies and programs by welcoming students who are immigrants. By offering support and resources, institutions like Saint Peter’s University, Christian Brothers University, and Dominican University are creating equal opportunities for immigrants, including undocumented students, as well as providing educational programming on the complexity of immigration.

Saint Peter’s University has responded to the needs of undocumented students by opening the Center for Undocumented Students (TCUS). Jennifer Ayala, director of the center, explained,  “The mission of TCUS is to support the academic work of undocumented students at the university, to shed intellectual light on the political and economic realities of immigration in our world today, and to create a community where undocumented students feel welcome.” Resources available through the center include a modest resource library, legal support, referrals and collaborations within the university as well as with outside organizations, internships, workshops for staff and faculty, “know your rights” workshops for students and their families, and advising and mentoring. TCUS also helps students find ways to pay for their education because undocumented students do not qualify for state or federal aid. In September, TCUS co-sponsored a student-organized conference, United Struggles, that educated students on community organizing as a way to engage politically and intentionally with the issue of immigration. TCUS  has also recently co-authored a letter urging the university administration to declare Saint Peter’s a sanctuary campus.

Eugene J. Cornacchia, Ph.D., president of Saint Peter’s, pointed out the continuity of the center’s mission with the university’s Jesuit legacy: “Saint Peter’s has proudly educated immigrant students since it first opened in 1872 and seeks to continue and enrich this tradition by extending its welcome and support to undocumented students, otherwise known as dreamers. We are proud to be a part of the large group of Jesuit colleges and universities that continue to advocate for dreamers.”

Christian Brothers University (CBU) is another college providing support through scholarships and a place of community to address the issue of immigration, focused specifically on the needs of Latino immigrant students. Two scholarships are available through the institution’s Latino Student Success Program: the Latino Achievement Scholarship for FAFSA-qualified students and the Latino Success Scholarship for non-FAFSA-qualified students. CBU has committed $12 million in scholarships and grants over seven years to serving undocumented students, funding that will benefit over 100 students. The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics has recognized CBU as an exemplary case for implementing programs that support the expansion of high-quality education for Latinos. Executive director of the White House Initiative, Alejandra Ceja, commended CBU as “the first institution of higher education [that] has publicly answered our national call for commitments.” A student-led organization, Hola CBU, also provides support for students on campus and in the local community. Hola CBU hosts events to expose the campus to Latino culture and create a welcoming Latino community. The group also partners with a local organization, Latino Memphis, to provide services like interpreting and standardized test tutoring for high school seniors.

Paul Haught, vice president of academics and student life at CBU, connected these programs to the Catholic identity of the institution, saying, “Christian Brothers University, as an institution founded on the Lasallian mission of providing educational opportunities to the underserved, continues to advocate for the education of all who stand to benefit their communities by gaining the benefits of higher education. So-called undocumented students belong to this class as much as anyone. If they are college ready, we invite them to share in CBU’s gifts of teaching and service.” CBU supports undocumented students, not only with scholarships, but also with a vibrant community. This dual approach recognizes the many needs of students during their time in college.

borderlands
Dominican University students on Borderlands trip

Lastly, Dominican University was recently honored with the Moral Courage Award from the nonprofit organization Faith in Public Life for its leadership in supporting the right of undocumented students to receive a college education. For Dominican President Donna Carroll, the students are the courageous leaders and the university is called to “stand with them” to fulfill its mission to give compassionate service and create a more just world.

In spring 2016, Dominican facilitated a border immersion trip called Borderlands to deepen engagement with the human and societal consequences of immigration — outcomes that often can be understood only by witnessing firsthand the circumstances of a border community. The program was partially funded by a Global Solidarity Grant, a collaboration between ACCU and Catholic Relief Services that awards funding to Catholic colleges and universities to increase awareness of global injustice and expand student involvement in bringing about change. During the Dominican University trip, students traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana to learn about the social issues present in migration, specifically for people migrating from Central America and Mexico to the United States. Before they traveled, the team of students spent time in prayer and learning about Catholic Social Teaching on immigration. During the trip, students were able to meet people directly involved in immigration, including some who had been deported and some who were preparing to immigrate to the United States.

After they returned, the students shared their experiences at the 2016 Dominican University Caritas Veritas Symposium. Atzimba Rodriguez, a senior in psychology and criminology, spoke during the symposium of the effect that meeting people in Tijuana had on her. She commented, “If anything, we are a bridge, a bridge between two worlds.” While the border stood as a division between the United States and Mexico, the relationships that the students built while in Tijuana emerged as a sign of unity.

Catholic universities are welcoming immigrants to campus and ensuring that they have tools for success. Examples such as those of Saint Peter’s University, Christian Brothers University, and Dominican University show how the goal of providing equal opportunity is realized through programs that promote leadership and provide resources that aid immigrants, including undocumented students. In the midst of the debate on immigration and educational inequality, Catholic universities are making a difference by providing for the needs of students and educating the community on the complexity of these social issues.

Camilla MacKenzie is an undergraduate student at The Catholic University of America and the Peace and Justice Intern at the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities.