Presidents of Jesuit student governments around country sign joint DACA support statement


Photo by Matthew Serafin

MUSG president Ben Dombrowski was one of the 28 student government leaders to sign a joint statement among American jesuit universities pledging support of DACA students last month.

Following President Donald Trump’s declaration on Sept. 5 that he plans to repeal DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), the presidents of the student governments at all 28 Jesuit universities in the United States signed a joint statement pledging support to undocumented students at their universities.

Ben Dombrowski, president of Marquette University Student Government, is a signatory on the statement. Dombrowski said he believes the letter is a reaffirmation of Marquette’s mission. After President Trump released the statement about ending DACA, Dombrowski said it was a clear calling for Jesuit universities to do their part.

What’s so important about this particular letter is that it calls us to action. We are signing something saying we are going to do this and provide more education to this issue,” he said.

Creating the document was a long time in the making, according to Dombrowski. Many student government presidents from  Jesuit universities attended the National Jesuit Student Leadership Conference this past summer at Georgetown University, which Dombrowski said was a starting point for the statement.

At the conference, students were able to voice their concerns about issues they cared about.

“Leading up to the actual announcement by President Trump, we had a day where we got to meet with our state representatives and talk about DACA,”  Dombrowski said.

After the conference, attendees used the National Jesuit Student Government Presidents Facebook page to keep the conversation going. 

Hayden Tanabe, student government president at Loyola Marymount University, spearheaded the movement.

“With our unifying mission underlining the importance of standing in solidarity with all students, regardless of national origin, I knew that our Jesuit counterparts would be the ones to turn to first,” Tanabe said.

He began to contact other Jesuit institutions. It took over a month for student government presidents at each of the universities to sign the document and add their contributions.

Both presidents hope the pushes for change will not end here with this statement.

“This past week, LMU held a “DREAM ACTion Week” that not only educated our students about DACA and the DREAM Act, but also put the focus on the calling of legislators. We offered rewards and incentives for students to call their legislators this week with a special link created by the Ignatian Solidarity Network,” Tanabe said.

Marquette University hosted its first Dreamer’s Gala this past year, raising more than $20,000 for an undocumented student’s scholarship.

Dombrowski thinks the university is taking “great initial steps,” yet believes there are always more actions to take.

As of now, Marquette has not declared themselves a sanctuary school, a term used to describe those universities that offer protection to students who protect their undocumented students.

According to a statement released by the university, “Marquette University and the Marquette University Police Department will follow the law, but will not act as an arm of federal immigration enforcement.”

Dombrowski said the statement means that MUPD will never solely enforce immigration laws on or off campus, but also will not allow non-MUPD agents on university property without a lawful warrant.

He believes that Marquette is not a sanctuary campus for various reasons.

“There is no legal definition to ‘sanctuary campus,’ so if our university makes such a declaration, it could simply just be words without any obligation to action,” Dombrowski said. 

University President Michael Lovell has urged students affected by the potential  reversal to come speak to the administration. In a statement he released last month, he said, “This is about real people who have done nothing wrong and deserve the chance to succeed — to walk across the stage with their classmates at Commencement and go on to contribute so much more to our community and our country.”