The Common Good

Catholic Educators Push Immigration Reform That Includes Citizenship

As support for immigration reform grows, Catholic college and university presidents from across the country have joined the movement. 

Last Thursday, more than 90 influential presidents released a letter calling on the House to pass comprehensive immigration reform that includes an earned path to citizenship. Taking into account the growing Catholic makeup in Congress, which has reached a historic high, presidents from the University of Notre Dame, Georgetown University, and The Catholic University of America joined the chorus calling for appropriate moral and practical action to take place on the issue. 

Driven by the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops position for immigration reform, the leaders who signed onto the letter represented more than a third of the nation’s 244 Catholic colleges and universities. Keenly aware of and concerned with the partisan ideology that drives debates in Congress, the presidents are urgently pushing for an end to the gridlock that affects so many of the political discussions in Washington.  

For universities, the issue is much more than a battle between fear and ideals. It’s about the moral imperative to welcome and care for their neighbors as it affects their students and the future of the country.  

“Faith isn’t the only piece we encourage students to cultivate. Part of the mission of our universities is to welcome our neighbors,” said Rev. Tom Greene, S.J., Secretary for Social and International Ministries, Jesuit Conference, at a news conference. 

Rev. John Jenkins, University of Notre Dame, said in a statement: 

“As educators, we know the nation’s truly indispensable resource is its people, particularly its youth; as presidents of Catholic institutions, we recognize the call to treat all with dignity. We urge lawmakers to adopt immigration reform that will both give aspiring Americans a path to citizenship and to becoming full contributors to our society, and to treat them with the dignity every human being deserves.”

As efforts continue on Capitol Hill and at home districts during the August recess, presidents will ramp up their outreach to their members of Congress this fall to urge members to show courage and pass practical immigration reform that includes an earned path to citizenship. The USCCB will also circulate the president’s letter as part of their ongoing advocacy efforts to lift up the voice of the Catholic community.  

Ivone Guillen is Immigration Campaign Associate for Sojourners. 

Image: Catholic University of America, L. Kragt Bakker /

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