Almost all readers were unimpressed with the “Statement of the Faculty of Felician University” that I posted here in January, responding to the election and inauguration of Donald Trump. I’m happy to report that Felician’s president, Anne Prisco, has released a statement that takes a much stronger and more substantive position on the repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program. I’ve excerpted it below the fold. I’m grateful for it.
I can’t help remembering the “proseminars on pedagogy” I attended back in grad school, intended to prepare us for the ups and downs of college-level teaching. Oddly enough, I don’t ever remembering anyone’s covering “what to do when the federal authorities come in force to campus, invade your classroom, and seize your students as a preliminary to deportation.” But hey–the great thing about this job is that it forces you to learn new things. What I’ve learned is a twist on the old cliche that “life is a journey”: for some of us, it promises to be a journey from the classroom to a prison cell, and from there to a permanent exile from the country of one’s birth.
To be honest, if such deportations are to take place at all, I prefer that they take place on campus. Better collectively to have to bear witness to them than to have the luxury of pretending that they aren’t happening.
Dear members of the Felician University Community,
This letter addresses the federal administration’s recent announcement to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program. As a Felician Franciscan community, we uphold the values of compassion, respect for human dignity and justice and peace. As expressed by Cardinal Tobin:
“The rule of law, first, last and always, must provide a humane, moral code to organize, protect and advance society based on the best ideals and beliefs in our hearts and minds. Catholic teaching calls all people to make a commitment to uphold the dignity of every person and to work for the common good of our nation.”
We affirm our care for every individual, and the University community extends its support to any in need of counsel. The Counseling Center (Room 4B, Student Center, Rutherford campus, 201-559-3587); peer-to-peer resident advisors (Office of Residence Life, 201- 559-3506); and Dr. Ronald Gray, Dean of Students, (Room 4A, Student Center, Rutherford campus 201-559-3564) are available to any concerned Felician student for confidential discussions. For those concerned about the likelihood of immigration officials coming to our campus, note that in 2011, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) identified schools, including higher education institutions as “sensitive locations.” This designation advises that immigration enforcement actions (such as arrests, interviews, searches, and surveillance operations) be avoided at sensitive locations. Should you encounter any law enforcement individual on campus, our protocol is to immediately notify Security (Rutherford x3561; Lodi x6011).
I ask each of you to reach out to your members of Congress and urge them to pass the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act 2017. This critical legislation will create a future for those impacted by the nullification of DACA, some 800,000 people who came to the U.S. as children and know no other home. Rather than incite fear among our country’s immigrant population, we need to strongly urge Congress to provide a path by which these young immigrants who contribute to American society as students, laborers, military members and business owners may achieve citizenship in a country that was founded by immigrants. Click here to make your voices heard. It is, simply, the right thing to do.
In addition, we need to embrace our Felician Franciscan values and join together in prayer for those fearful for their families and their futures as a result of DACA’s demise. We also need to pray for our lawmakers, that they engage in moral, honest, and open conversation guided by compassion, fairness, and respect for human dignity.
I ask that you join me in passionately affirming our support of these students and the original intent of this country to be a safe home for those seeking freedom and prosperity.
Peace and blessings,
Anne M. Prisco, Ph.D