Following San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee’s vow that the city will remain a sanctuary city for immigrants, religious minorities, and the LGBT community, USF President Rev. Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J. doubled down on that statement in an appearance on CNN last week, despite the election of a president who strikes fear into many of those communities.
On Wed. Nov. 23, Fitzgerald joined Carol Costello on CNN’s morning show Newsroom, attesting to USF’s commitment to act as a sanctuary college campus. This status would protect current and future students who may be under the umbrella of the Dreamer’s Act, formally known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, introduced in 2012 by the Obama administration.
Fitzgerald also spoke about the number of undocumented students on campus who are now worried about their prospective futures. “At the University of San Francisco we have about 80 undergraduate and graduate students who have participated in the DACA program. They have given the federal government their names, their birthdates, their home addresses, in exchange for this promise that they would be allowed to continue to finish their education, get work permits, and then upon graduation, enter the workforce and contribute to the economy of the United States,” said Fitzgerald.
On behalf of USF, Father Fitzgerald joined 300 other colleges and university presidents from public and private institutions across the United States who have signed a statement vouching for DACA to not only be upheld, but continued and expanded.
The biggest fear that many of these ‘Dreamers’ have, said Fitzgerald, revolves around the possibility that their voluntary surrender of personal information now puts them and their families in danger of deportation.
On Nov. 11, only a few days after Trump was elected, students marched into War Memorial Gym during the men’s and women’s basketball doubleheader to protest Trump’s platform that has promised to roll back on the DACA program. Fitzgerald was present at the demonstration, standing in solidarity alongside event organizers, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA) of USF.
The protest at War Memorial was to remind USF community members of the pending resolution to MEChA’s Magis scholarship fund, which proposes that $4.00 from each student’s tuition be allocated into the fund each year. The scholarship fund aims to support undocumented students who demonstrate financial need but are ineligible to apply for federal financial aid. Last semester, the Magis scholarship fund resolution was approved by ASUSF senate, and then placed on the Spring 2016 Dons Election ballot. Undergraduate students voted to approve the scholarship fund with a 78 percent approval rate. Now, come December, the Board of Trustees will determine whether or not to incorporate it into the 2017-2018 academic year budget.
“The hope is that there will be an institutional response and effect so that there are resources available for undocumented students and folks that are being directly attacked by Trump,” said the Vice-President of MEChA, Sonia Hurtado-Guitron. “Our hope is also to nurture an atmosphere of advocacy where student organizations can feel that creating transformational change at USF is possible,” she added.
Photo Credit: University of San Francisco