DACA vigil connects Canisius with the greater network of Jesuit organizations

Canisius’ Vigil in Defense of DACA shows support for immigrants and refugees, both in our local community and around the world. Participants prayed and reflected on the awaited fate of the DACA program, which will affect nearly 700,000 people.

Answering the call from the Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN), Campus Ministry held a Vigil in Defense of DACA in the chapel on Nov. 12 in participation with ISN’s Prayers of Hope campaign. The invitation went out to all Jesuit institutions, encouraging them to organize a vigil, advocate and spread the word in order to both stand in solidarity with and defend Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.

“As a Catholic-Jesuit school,” Associate Campus Minister Kaitlyn Buehlmann stated, “we felt that having Canisius and our student body and our staff members raise our voices on an issue like this is important with the Jesuit values that we have as an institution. We believe in standing with those on the margins and about using our faith to inform our understanding of what goes on in the world around us, as well as these values.”

The purpose of ISN’s call for a vigil was in recognition of the Supreme Court hearing oral arguments about the fate of the DACA program held on Nov. 12. Along with other Jesuit schools, parishes, and faith communities across the country, Canisius marked this important day and stood in solidarity with DACA recipients. 

DACA was a program initiated by former President Barack Obama that allowed children who came to the U.S. before the age of 16 to live and work legally in America. If they were currently students or had a high school diploma or GED and they had no criminal record, than they were protected by the DACA program.

The controversy over the program began when Obama proposed extending DACA’s age limit to include older immigrants and give protection against deportation for undocumented parents with children of U.S. citizenship. Twenty-six states sued the Obama administration over the expansion and won, with hints that the program might be unconstitutional.

This led to a reexamination of the existing DACA program, and finally to President Trump ending it in 2017.

Now, the Supreme Court is looking at whether or not the Trump administration can actually do this. Three federal courts ruled that before a policy like this is revoked, a rationale weighing the pros and cons of the program needs to be provided. On Nov. 12, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments addressing the president’s power over immigration in this case. Still, a final decision will not come for some time.

President Hurley showed Canisius’ support of undocumented students and their families with a letter released in 2017 when the Trump administration initially ended the DACA prgram. 

He wrote, “Like many other university presidents in our nation and in concert with our Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, I am taking steps to urge Congress to come up with a fair and sustainable legislative solution to the issue of young people who were brought to this country by parents or relatives and have otherwise lived model lives … I will repeat what I have said previously about undocumented students at Canisius: You are welcome here.”

In order to move forward and go beyond prayer and reflection, Campus Ministry invited the vigil participants to sign a letter to their senators asking them to vote for The DREAM Act of 2019.

“In the Jesuit tradition, we also call this being a contemplative in action,” Buehlmann said. “And so, all the decisions you make, whether it’s around your life, or politics, or faith, saying, ‘How are you acting in the real world in ways that’s informed by reflection and prayer?’ That was a way to carry forward what folks were standing for, beyond just the vigil space.”

Also, Campus Ministry will be sending a delegation of 11 students to Washington D.C. for the annual Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice. Students will learn more about how their faith intersects with social justice issues through a weekend of speakers, breakout sessions, and networking opportunities.

Canisius will continue to stand in solidarity with immigrants and refugees through a combination of faith and action, in partnership with our fellow Jesuit institutions across the world.

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