Catholic colleges pledge legal, financial aid for illegals

More than one hundred presidents from some of the nation’s elite Catholic colleges are vowing to offer their schools’ legal and financial resources in support of illegal immigrants in an implicit rejection of Donald Trump's promised crackdown on illegal immigration.

In an open letter dubbed “A Statement from Leaders in Catholic Higher Education” that was released Tuesday, some 104 college presidents write that they “pledge to support” students at their institutions who entered the country illegally.

In fact, they vow to support such 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,” observing that “Many of us count among our students young men and women who are undocumented, their families having fled violence and instability.”

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“These students have met the criteria of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, issued in 2012,” the presidents add, saying they “express hope that the students in our communities who have qualified for DACA are able to continue their studies without interruption and that many more students in their situation will be welcome to contribute their talents to our campuses.”

Indeed, they then suggest that their schools will contribute financially to allow even more illegal immigrants to enroll at their institutions, writing that “undocumented students need assistance in confronting legal and financial uncertainty and in managing the accompanying anxieties.”

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Among the signatories to the letter are the presidents of such renowned institutions as the Catholic University of America and Boston College, along with the leaders of lesser-known schools like Barry University, which made waves last year by banning its golf team from practicing (free of charge) at the world-class Trump Doral golf course.

Also notable is the signature of DePaul University president Fr. Dennis Holtschneider, who announced his resignation earlier this year after facing a national backlash for banning conservative speakers from campus and publicly condemning a lecture given by Milo Yiannopoulos.

The letter concludes by invoking the apparent wisdom of Pope Francis, who encouraged illegal immigrants to remember that they “bring many gifts to this nation,” a sentiment the college presidents endorse with a commitment to “educating these young people, brought to the United States by their parents, who come to our universities to build for themselves and us a brighter future.”

Additionally, the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) published a similar statement Wednesday in support of illegal-immigrant students, saying its members felt “morally compelled” to promote the “retention” of DACA and will “protect to the fullest extent of the law undocumented students on our campuses.”

Far fewer presidents signed on to the AJCU letter, though many of the 28 signatories affixed their names to both letters.

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