Immigration: Undocumented Students in Higher Education
Ford Foundation has awarded Fairfield University's Center for Faith and Public Life a $200,000 2-year grant to implement a mixed-methods research study in collaboration with Santa Clara University and Loyola University Chicago to survey and understand the legal and social contexts, attitudes and current practices in Jesuits schools of higher education in the United States regarding undocumented students. The project seeks to provide presidential leadership in private higher education regarding the undocumented, bringing the issues and challenges to the forefront of discussions around policy and access. It will be designed to stimulate a sustained dialogue with the 28 Jesuit schools of higher education in the United States by answering 2 questions: What are the current practices among our schools? And what challenges do we face in trying to serve these students? A final policy paper, highlighting the results of the study, will include a moral argument, anchored in Catholic social teaching, for better meeting the needs of the undocumented students.
"The Catholic notion of the Common Good means creating the social conditions that allow for the full flourishing of the human person. Migrants are often denied these conditions so we have made the study of immigration, refugees and needs of undocumented people a centerpiece of our work at the Center for Faith and Public Life. The Ford grant will allow us to take this work to a new level," said Father Richard Ryscavage S.J, professor of sociology, who directs the Center. Recently the Center completed a study of religious language and the national immigration debate in the United States that was funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
February 26, 2013, marked the release of findings from the Ford Foundation study of undocumented students in the 28 American Jesuit colleges and universities. At an event on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., twelve presidents were in attendance and shared a statement (signed by 25 presidents total) affirming the moral imperative for Jesuit schools to support all students -including those who are undocumented- to reach their full potential. "We continue to affirm that Jesuit colleges and universities are morally committed environments, where our students are inspired and encouraged to understand and address issues of justice, fairness, political involvement, and a preferential option for those whom society has marginalized," the statement reads.