President's Message: Our Community Commitment
Dear USF Community,
While we await any changes on or after Jan. 20, 2017, DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and undocumented students should have no fears of increased scrutiny or enforcement now and until at least that time.
Meanwhile, I want to affirm two inviolable principles that we commit to and that will remain intact at USF:
- We embrace our community and work assiduously so that all USF students have an equal opportunity to flourish and succeed: and
- We stand with all members of our community in the fight for equity and justice, and work vigorously against acts of bigotry, bias, hate, and discrimination.
In terms of how we can specifically assist and support our DACA and undocumented students (who have been subjected to threats and fear before and since the election), I wanted to give all members of our community an update on what has happened or is in process.
- Yesterday, I was in touch with Michael J. Sheeran, S.J., president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. Through Fr. Sheeran, I invited the presidents of the 28 Jesuit higher education institutions in the United States to issue a joint statement in support of our students and expressing a shared and vigorous recommendation that DACA be retained. I will keep the community posted on that progress.
- I have asked the university’s general counsel to explore legal avenues to enable all students to attend without regard to immigration status. Also, I affirm that no USF student record information will be shared with the federal government without the general counsel’s explicit review and assent.
- CAPS is prioritizing mental health and counseling services to USF DACA and undocumented students who fear facing immigration enforcement that might affect themselves or their families.
- Provost Donald Heller will communicate to faculty about opportunities to prioritize funding for academic research in immigration law and policy. Several DACA and undocumented students have already reached out to professors in the School of Law for counsel and support. Additionally, students may visit the Office of Diversity Engagement and Community Outreach (DECO) in Lone Mountain 104, where the Task Force to Support Undocumented Students is housed.
- As more information becomes clearer about possible changes to immigration pathways, we will continue to support pro bono immigration legal services for students and direct students to resources on and off campus.
Faculty, staff, and students who have other suggestions for how the university can support and advise DACA and undocumented students (and their families and neighbors), please let me know. Many of you also have alliances with San Francisco area educators, health care providers, parishes, or community service organizations, and there may be ways their constituents could benefit from members of the USF community providing counsel or consolation.
I commend San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, who, mirroring USF’s commitment, has joined other cities across the country and pledged to retain San Francisco’s status as a sanctuary city and vowed to protect its residents.
I look forward to sharing updates and continuing the conversations we are having as a community.
Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J.