MEMPHIS — Dr. John Smarrelli Jr., president of Christian Brothers University (CBU), is among 65 presidents of Catholic colleges and universities who recently signed a letter calling upon Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to clarify the department’s practices and intentions regarding immigrants previously protected under the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. The letter urges the secretary to carry out President Trump’s promise last month to protect DACA holders from deportation and also requests a face-to-face meeting to discuss future protections for these young people.
“Last November, presidents of Catholic colleges and universities made a pledge in support of DACA and our undocumented students. We remain committed to supporting our students as they face legal and financial uncertainties,” the letter states. It continues by expressing concern that “recent actions and statements by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) about young people who met the DACA criteria raise many questions about the safety of our students.”
“As Catholics, our shared faith calls us to protect the most vulnerable among us,” the letter concludes. “Over the years, we have opened the doors of our colleges and universities to ‘Dreamers’ and advocated for comprehensive immigration reform so that they and their families can live safe, full lives in our country. In these uncertain times, we will continue to do everything we can to protect our students, and we urge you to join us in this pursuit.”
President Smarrelli has also signed letters supporting “Dreamers” from the American Council on Education and the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, as well as a statement of support signed by 639 college and university presidents following the election last November. In 2015, CBU pledged $12 million over seven years to expand its Latino Student Success Program, which was recognized by then-President Barack Obama and his White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. CBU has also since joined TheDream.Us, a national organization which works with partner colleges to offer scholarships to undocumented students.
To view the full letter, please click here.