Task force on immigration and DACA

December 8, 2016

Dear USD Campus Community:

Since my November 21 communication to the campus, it is heartening to witness many different voices in our community express solidarity with immigrants, the undocumented, refugees, and others who experience marginalization or fear because of their status or identity. In these voices, I hear the vitality of our Catholic identity as well as a yearning for the promise of our vision to “confront humanity’s urgent challenges."

Together, we stand as a community with a higher calling than is usually found in the political moment. The message of the gospels asks us to embrace difference, speak out prophetically against discrimination and injustice in any form, and to offer assurances of support, safety and solidarity that our Culture of Care expects. As Matthew 25 reminds us, “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”

We are united with Bishop Robert McElroy’s call to stand with the undocumented and the refugee communities in this moment of anxiety “in a bond of accompaniment and protection.”  Bishop McElroy rightly points out that this bond will only grow stronger if acts of injustice related to federal immigration policies were to be pursued at a time when the need to offer safe haven to refugees is growing throughout the world.

In my previous campus communication, I indicated that we would be forming a presidential task force of faculty and staff to help us review our current support and our options to deepen our commitment to our students, colleagues, families and those connected to USD in the community who are experiencing a sense of uncertainty.  The task force is hard at work, and I am grateful to Law School Dean Stephen Ferruolo who has agreed to serve as its Chair.

Members include: 
Esteban del Rio, Assoc. Provost
Kelly Douglas, General Counsel
Everard Meade, Director, Trans-Border Institute
Brad Melekian, Assistant Professor, English
Greg Prieto, Assistant Professor, Sociology
Reyes Quezada, Professor, Learning & Teaching
Tom Herrinton, Vice Provost
Jean Ramirez, Professor of Law

The task force is evaluating recommendations by members of our campus community and our national higher education associations to determine our best options for advocating on behalf of those experiencing marginalization and feeling threatened.  I am encouraged by the swift progress they have made in their initial meeting as they reaffirm our commitment to remaining an inclusive and welcoming space for all students and community members, regardless of status or identity.

I intend to update you on task force recommendations next week in an email communication and at the President’s Forum for employees on Wednesday.

Bishop McElroy reminds us that we are in the season of Advent, a time of active waiting and anticipation for Jesus, who was a refugee and an immigrant. I join Bishop McElroy in asking that these days be a time of vigilance and preparedness as we await the beginning of our nation’s new administration. In that waiting, I encourage us to reflect on our responsibility to heal our nation through dialogue and acts of civil civic engagement.

Sincerely,

James T Harris III, D.Ed.
President