Rockhurst University President Thomas Curran’s signature led a letter from Catholic and Jesuit schools to the Department of Homeland Security requesting clarification on the Trump administration’s immigration enforcement policies.
Specifically, the 65 college and university leaders who signed the letter want details on policy regarding those students receiving protection from deportation from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals act.
“We are deeply concerned about the futures of our undocumented students,” the letter says.
“As leaders of Catholic colleges and universities, we are dedicated to educating students from all backgrounds. In keeping with this commitment, many of our institutions are home to young men and women who are undocumented and have met the criteria for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).”
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In January, after President Donald Trump announced a ban on immigration from seven Muslim nations into the United States, Curran said in a statement to The Star that Rockhurst would “join with the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities and educational and religious leaders worldwide in calling for thoughtful immigration policies that respect those of all faiths and nationalities.”
More than 740,000 immigrants have benefited from the nearly 5-year-old DACA program, instituted by an executive order signed by President Barack Obama.
DACA was never intended as a permanent fix, and it does not change the legal status of children in the program. It does offer a two-year reprieve from the threat of deportation. It also gives young people who qualify — vetted under Homeland Security — the chance to work.
The schools’ letter asks Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly for a meeting “to better understand how enforcement agencies are approaching DACA holders” during police encounters, in public or during what the letter calls targeted enforcement actions.
Curran’s is the first signature on the list, joined by leaders of other faith-based colleges in the Kansas City area, including Ron Slepitza at Avila University, Stuart Swetland at Donnelly College and Diane Steele at University of St. Mary.
The college leaders said they were praying for DACA students as they leave their campuses for summer internships and jobs.
“Our prayer is that they return,” the letter said.