The Dreamer Committee of Loyola University Chicago: Promoting Dignity through Education
Loyola University Chicago has been a leader in working for educational opportunity for undocumented students, i.e., persons who were brought to the United States as children and were raised and educated in this country, but remain without a path to normalization of their immigration status. They are often said to be “Americans in every way but on paper.”
Many of these Undocumented students have been granted temporary relief through the executive action of President Obama on June 15, 2012. The President created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that grants two-year renewable stays of action and also provides an Employment Authorization Document (i.e., a “work permit”) and enables them to apply for a social security number. However, it provides no path to permanent residency or citizenship and does not enable them to access any federal programs such as student loans. As a result, these students have a minimally-legal status that limits their educational opportunity.
The Dreamer Committee is a university-wide standing committee that succeeds a major task force that reviewed Loyola’s progress in meeting the needs of these students (for a recap of the work of the task force, see the presentations by Katherine Kaufka Walts, Kathleen Maas Weigert, Mark Kuczewski, and Flavio Bravo given at the Forum on Teaching and Learning (FOTL). The task force found that Loyola University Chicago had become an emerging national leader in promoting equity for these students. Achievements included the Stritch School of Medicine becoming the first U.S. medical school to openly welcome DACA-eligible students (www.stritch.luc.edu/daca) and the incredible undergraduate effort that create the Magis Scholarship Fund for Undocumented students from a self-imposed student activity fee. Such “firsts” have brought the university renown and highlighted the value all levels of the university place on social justice. However, progress was uneven across the schools of the university and sustained attention needed to be given to these issues. The collaboration of dedicated faculty, administrators, and students is needed to further opportunity for Undocumented students at Loyola and to seek systemic change in our nation’s immigration system through scholarship and advocacy.
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