Fontbonne President, Campus Ministers React to DACA

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Dear Faculty, Staff and Students:

For months the threat of ending the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program has been hanging in the politically charged air of our country creating uncertainty and distress within our vulnerable immigrant community. Earlier this year, I added my signature to two letters from college and university presidents across the country in support of the DACA program and seeking a path to citizenship for the dreamers. Our appeals have gone unheard. As announced yesterday, the President has declared that he will end the program in six months barring legislative action. This has created even more fear and uncertainty among those in the DACA community.

All of us, regardless of our faith background, should rally around those impacted and encourage our legislators to pass legislation that will remove this uncertainty and preserve the future for these childhood arrivals who, in most cases, know only the United States as their home.

Faculty and staff in the areas of Mission and Ministry (Dr. Mary Beth Gallagher, Dr. Brian Matz, Fr. Speratus Kamanzi and Ms. Lori Helfrich) have prepared a reflection on the Church’s statement below along with some resources you will find useful. I thank our Mission and Ministry staff for this and invite you all to take a moment to better understand this important issue.

J. Michael Pressimone, Ed.D.
President
Fontbonne University

Dear Fontbonne Community,

It perhaps comes as no great surprise that the Catholic Church unequivocally opposes the actions taken by President Trump yesterday. He needlessly injected great uncertainty into the lives of more than 800,000 young adults in America by ending support for the DACA program. Pres. Trump could have campaigned for a legislative fix to the DACA program without barring new enrollees from entering the program and without barring current enrollees from renewing their status. It is left now to Americans of good will to speak to their congressional representatives to encourage them to craft a permanent, legislative resolution.

While doing so, it is best to educate ourselves about the issue and about how Christians ought to respond. Thankfully, we have great role models in what it means to serve the immigrant communities in our region and along the southern border of our country, our dear neighbors, in the work of several Sisters of St. Joseph. You may even have contributed supplies for their work during one of our collection drives last Spring. In addition, there are resources within the Catholic Church that articulate why it is pro-migration and pro-immigrant rights. In brief, Catholics support measures like DACA for the simple reason they respect and promote the dignity of these children of undocumented workers. Moreover, it is the high calling of men and women who claim to follow the path of Jesus to care first for the needs of those who exist on the margins of society.

Here are a few links for you to consider. There are, of course, many more you will find through simple, online searches.

1. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s explanation of its support for immigration and immigrant rights:
http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/immigration/catholic-teaching-on-immigration-and-the-movement-of-peoples.cfm

2. A one-page document summarizing the history of Catholic teaching on migration in official documents:
https://cliniclegal.org/sites/default/files/toolkits/communityed/Catholic-Social-Teaching-and-Migration.pdf

3. A one-page document summarizing the five points articulated in a joint statement by Mexico’s and the U.S.’s Catholic bishops on migration:
http://www.loyno.edu/jsri/sites/loyno.edu.jsri/files/CSTandMigration-Summer2009jsq.pdf

Sincerely,

Dr. Mary Beth Gallagher, Office of Mission
Dr. Brian Matz, CSJ Chair of Catholic Thought
Fr. Speratus Kamanzi, University Chaplain
Ms. Lori Helfrich, Director of Campus Ministry