Thursday, June 18, 2020, was a momentous day, as the United States Supreme Court upheld DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).
Across the country, our state, our city, and in our school, many families breathed a sigh of relief, that for now, they would not have to worry for the time being about the loss of a vital program that protects children brought to this country by their parents.
Time and again, we as a faith community have stood with immigrants. From our very founding, when Fr. Damen first opened the doors to the school in 1869, he was determined to serve the children of immigrants. Every language in the city has been spoken in our school over our 150 years—Spanish, Croatian, Polish, Igbo, Korean—just as DACA protects every child from any country, not just Latino children as some would have you believe. We as a school are committed to the protection and education of all of our students, irrespective of immigration status. It is such an important issue to our school, that on numerous occasions we have hosted Archdiocese of Chicago conferences on the topic.
But it is not just our school that supports immigrants, rather we can see it in the writings and talks of Pope Francis. Whether it is his encyclical letter Lataudo Si’, his annual messages on the World Day of the Migrant and Refugee, Pope Francis has encouraged us all to see immigration through lens of Catholicism’s emphasis on caring and justice for the least of us, and to fight against the forces us that push us to ignore and revile the immigrant among us. In Evangelii Gaudium (#210), Pope Francis states:
I exhort all countries to a generous openness which, rather than fearing the loss of local identity, will prove capable of creating new forms of cultural synthesis. How beautiful are those cities which overcome paralysing mistrust, integrate those who are different and make this very integration a new factor of development! How attractive are those cities which, even in their architectural design, are full of spaces which connect, relate and favor the recognition of others!
We wish to be that city he speaks of at the end. Chicago is a city of neighborhoods and nationalities. We would all be the poorer without the neighborhoods that nourish the diversity that enriches our classrooms, inspires many of our clubs and organizations, which feeds our spiritual discussions and retreats, and is the strength of our Wolfpack athletic teams.
Saint Ignatius remains committed to the educational and spiritual needs of the sons and daughters of immigrants, and the sons and daughters that are immigrants. Before DACA in 2012 we were committed to our immigrant students, and will continue to do so. Because in doing so we are fulfilling the mission and values of the school, and the last line of the Prayer of St. Ignatius: we are doing God’s will.