When Boston College released the news that University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J. signed a statement supporting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, many were overjoyed that the university had chosen to stand with the undocumented and larger immigrant community. This news followed the release of the petition “Call for Boston College to become a Sanctuary Campus,” which has been signed by over 1,500 community members. After months of rising hateful rhetoric, members of our community could not help but feel that Leahy was making good on the school’s Jesuit mission.
The devil is in the details, however—Leahy’s signature on the Pomona College statement does not change the reality that many undocumented immigrants, including DACA recipients, may soon face: mass detention and deportation.
The Sanctuary Campus movement has spread to hundreds of universities across the country. Rallies and petitions from students, faculty, staff, and alumni have put pressure on the leadership of institutions to take concrete actions to protect undocumented immigrant students who attend their campuses. If university leaders fail to supplement their stated support of undocumented students with material protections, their signatures are little more than a hollow gesture meant to placate the movement.
We must demand more than gestures if our goal is to actually protect students. As outlined in the petition, BC can—and should—provide holistic legal, financial, health, and mental health support for immigrant students, faculty, and staff. BC must commit to deny Immigration and Customs Enforcement access to university property if we truly want to protect students. The university can open the doors of St. Joseph’s Chapel, St. Mary’s Chapel, and Trinity Chapel by designating them part of the Sanctuary Church network. Finally, as a leader in the Jesuit community, BC should encourage the parish council and pastor of St. Ignatius Parish to do the same.
In his famous “Men for Others” address, Rev. Pedro Arrupe, S.J. tells us that the principle of justice is cultivated by three attitudes: Live More Simply, No Unjust Profit, and Change Unjust Structures. The call for BC to become a Sanctuary Campus is deeply aligned with all three of these attitudes. Declaring BC a Sanctuary Campus is an act of justice—one that we must continue to demand.
Kevin Ferreira, LGSOE ’18
Chad Olle, LGSOE ’18
Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor