Father Jenkins calls for reform of immigration policies

by Michael O. Garvey

Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.

Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., president of the University of Notre Dame, joined other national leaders of higher education calling for reforms in United States immigration policies on Friday (April 19), the National Immigration Forum Campus Day of Action for Immigration Reform.

“Notre Dame is proud of a long history of educating immigrant communities,” Father Jenkins said, “and our Catholic tradition urges us to provide welcome to the stranger among us. While recognizing the complex legal, economic, social and political questions surrounding immigration in our nation, we join others in calling for just and effective immigration reform. We urge particular attention to reform that will allow deserving, academically qualified young men and women who were brought to the United States as children to have access to higher education in the United States and opportunities following from educational achievement. By educating these young people, we will improve their lives, enrich our nation and live up to our values.”

In October 2011, Father Jenkins, with Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., president of DePaul University, led the first of a series of meetings sponsored by the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities to discuss how Catholic colleges and universities might contribute to immigration reform.

More recently, at Notre Dame, Father Jenkins convened a presidential task force, co-chaired by Paolo Carozza, Timothy Matovina and Rev. Timothy Scully, C.S.C. to study how the University could make a unique and meaningful contribution to the current national debate on immigration. Among the task force’s recommendations is a seminal academic conference on engagement of immigrants through the perspective of Catholic faith and tradition, particularly emphasizing the experience and contributions of people in the United States who are, or at one time were, undocumented. The conference will be held in March 2014, and its proceedings will be widely disseminated to scholars, church leaders and the wider public.

Scholars at Notre Dame have been leaders within higher education on the topic of immigration reform. Rev. Daniel G. Groody, C.S.C., has become an internationally recognized author, speaker and filmmaker on issues related to migration, Latino spirituality, globalization and Catholic social teaching. In addition to the Center for Social Concerns, the Institute for Latino Studies and the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, several other Notre Dame groups and programs have become involved in immigration research, policy and service. These include the Center for Civil and Human Rights, the Department of Theology, the Institute for Educational Initiatives, the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, among others.