Our Support for Dreamers
June 18, 2020
Dear Loyola Community,
Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision (Department of Homeland Security, et al. v. Regents of the University of California, et al.) is a victory for more than 650,000 young men and women who will now continue to be protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Our Jesuit, Catholic values move us to work for the dignity of each person and the promotion of social justice. Over the years, Loyola University Chicago has embraced DACA students. We were the first university to admit DACA students to our medical school, and we are pleased to have undocumented students enrolled in every school of the University.
We applaud the Court for recognizing that these young men and women have a right to pursue the American dream, and we will continue to work to support legislation such as the DREAM Act, which would codify DACA into public law.
By definition, a person with DACA status was brought to the United States as a minor child, and had no choice in the decision by their family to immigrate in search of a safe home and greater opportunities. These young people are woven into the fabric of our communities. They are already making significant contributions to our society. They are our future doctors, lawyers, nurses, teachers, and business owners, among many other callings. Loyola is committed to their success.
Two of our own DACA students attended the oral arguments for this decision last November: Fernanda Herrera Spieler, a student at Loyola’s School of Law, and Cesar Montelongo Hernandez, an MD/PhD student at Loyola’s Stritch School of Medicine. During oral arguments, the Solicitor General of the United States argued that there would be no harm to people with DACA status in rescinding the program because there were no benefits attached to the program. Yet both Fernanda and Montelongo are only able to attend Loyola’s Schools of Law and Medicine because they can get licensed to practice upon graduation because of work permits made possible by their DACA status.
We must continue to support and advocate for them. While this decision applies to current DACA recipients, uncertainty remains. The program is closed to new applicants and its protections remain provisional. We are reaching out to members of the Illinois congressional delegation to advocate for federal legislation which will codify the DACA program and its protections into law. I, along with other presidents of Jesuit colleges and universities, affirm this public statement from the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. Working together with our higher education partners and coalitions, we will maximize our efforts on behalf of our students.
We continue to be focused on the well-being of all our undocumented students. Backed by the passionate advocacy of our internal “Dreamers Committee” of staff, faculty, and students, we will continue to provide resources, support, and ongoing updates through our Undocumented Student Resources page. This site contains information about students’ legal rights as well as campus contacts and training opportunities. Those in need of emotional or spiritual support are encouraged to contact Campus Ministry, the Wellness Center, or the office of Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs (SDMA). SDMA has a list of relevant legal and other resources on its page including contact persons for each campus.
This opinion protects our DACA students’ futures—for now. We must protect them in the long term from future challenges to their right to become citizens. We ask everyone in the Loyola community to reach out to their members of Congress to advocate for new federal legislation that will provide stability for DACA recipients and their families. Ask your representatives to codify into law the protections and benefits provided by DACA. Please join me in securing a future for our Loyola DACA students, faculty, and alumni, and for all who have come to our country in the hope of a better life.
Jo Ann Rooney, JD, LLM, EdD
President, Loyola University Chicago