By Allyson Noenickx, Chief News Editor
On Jan. 30, Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J., responded to concerns over recent executive orders passed by President Donald Trump in a letter addressed to the campus community. In the letter coauthored by Margaret Freije, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College, Fr. Boroughs voiced his support of community members directly affected by the executive order on immigration.
“It is challenging for us all to understand fully the implications of the various executive orders that have been issued by the new President over the past week, but there is no doubt that many are in clear opposition to our mission and to our commitments to a preferential option for the impoverished and powerless, and to justice,” wrote Fr. Boroughs.
On Jan. 27, Trump signed an executive order temporarily banning entry into the United States by citizens from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia. According to Boroughs, “[this order], and the subsequent judicial injunctions, has caused uncertainty and anxiety for many in our community.”
Fr. Boroughs and Dean Freije have been in contact with colleagues at other Catholic institutions about how to support students and faculty in light of recent events. The pair attended the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) and Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU) meetings in Washington D.C. last month. They have also signed the Academics Against Immigration Executive Order petition.
“Our hope is to provide an opportunity for all members of our community to engage one another and to broaden our understanding of the historical, political, sociological, economic, and ethical implications of the issues raised by the recent executive orders,” said Boroughs and Freije.
In an effort to support those who may be affected by the executive orders, Amit Taneja, associate dean for diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer, has organized an immigration teach-in that will take place on Friday, Feb. 17 from 4-7 p.m. in Rehm Library. “This teach-in is an opportunity for us to engage with some difficult questions, and to explore how those questions are connected to the College’s mission as a Jesuit, liberal arts College,” said Taneja. Over a dozen faculty members will participate in the open format event––those interested may drop by as their schedules permit.
“The teach-in is a way for faculty, staff, and students to gather and grapple with the immigration debate that seems to have divided the country,” said Taneja. “In order to understand where we are today, we need to consider the historical, political, economic, sociological and ethical questions and contexts that have influenced US immigration policy. Faculty will present short presentations tackling these questions, and we will collectively engage in a dialogue about our nation’s past, present and future.”
Tina Chen, international student advisor, has also reached out to international students from the countries named in the executive order. Community members seeking additional information and support are encouraged to contact Taneja. A panel discussion with local experts on these and related issues and a conversation with Congressman Jim McGovern regarding developments and changes in federal policy are also in the works.
Fr. Boroughs’ letter came after he joined hundreds of other college and university presidents in December in showing support for undocumented students and the retention of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
On campus, some students have also voiced their opposition to the recent executive order. Over 200 members of the Holy Cross community joined protesters at the Worcester solidarity rally on Jan. 31 to show support for the city’s immigrants and refugees. Student Government Association (SGA) provided transportation for those who attended. In total, 1,300 gathered at Worcester City Hall for the rally––one of many that has unfolded across the country since President Trump signed the executive order restricting immigration from seven Muslim countries and temporarily suspending refugee admission.
Photograph Credits: Mass Live