By Deanna Howes Spiro, Director of Communications, AJCU

Every minute, every day, 30 people are displaced from their homes, forced to become refugees or asylum-seekers. This is just one of many sobering statistics on immigration, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR):

Any number of issues can force displacement: politics, economics, religion, ethnic conflicts. And when that happens, it can last for years. During such a trying situation, how does one cope?

Thankfully, a number of non-profit organizations exist to help refugees both inside and outside of camps through education, work-training programs, and advocacy at the federal level. Jesuit Refugee Service/USA is one of those organizations making a difference both domestically in Washington, D.C. and abroad, for refugees in camps across Europe, Africa and Asia. You will learn about their work in this issue of Connections.

This issue also highlights the research and advocacy for immigrants currently being conducted at five AJCU institutions: Seattle University, Loyola Marymount University, Fordham University, Loyola University New Orleans and Loyola University Chicago. An additional outreach effort is the online AJCU Migration Research Directory. This directory was launched last spring to provide faculty from Jesuit institutions in the United States and abroad with a platform to connect and collaborate with each other, and to share their research with the broader public.

We are proud of the work being conducted at our institutions and organizations every day to serve those who live on the margins of society. In the words of Rev. Pedro Arrupe, S.J., former Superior General of the Society of Jesus and founder of the Jesuit Refugee Service, “Today’s prime educational objective must be to form men-and-women-for-others… who cannot even conceive of love of God which does not include love for the least of their neighbors.”

By Cynthia Littlefield, Vice President for Federal Relations, AJCU


Appropriations at Front and Center
Over the summer, Congress made a concerted effort to move appropriations bills toward completion before the end of the fiscal year on September 30. When Congress cannot complete an appropriations bill before that deadline, a Continuing Resolution (CR) can extend a program’s authorization. Otherwise, incomplete bills are included in an omnibus bill. If the President and Congress cannot agree to either, the federal government will close without the necessary funding to operate. In an election year like this, every effort is made to complete the appropriations process in order to avoid that fate. As of this writing, five bills are complete, including the FY19 Labor, HHS and Education bill, which was passed by the House Appropriations Committee on July 11.

For higher education, the maximum Pell grant award was level-funded at $6,095 (same as FY18). Among campus-based aid programs, the federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (SEOG) program was level-funded at $840 million, and the Federal Work Study program (FWS) was level-funded at $1.03 billion. In addition, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) received a $1.25 billion increase in funding.

The Senate version of the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill includes a $2 billion increase over the House bill, with a $100 increase on the Pell grant maximum award to $6,195. Year-round Pell grants also received funding, as did summer Pell grants. These two Pell programs are helpful to students who want to graduate early. The campus-based aid programs, SEOG and FWS, received the same level-funding as the House. NIH also received an increase of $2 billion from the Senate.

The Senate merged FY19 Labor, H&HS and Education appropriations with the Department of Defense (DOD) appropriations into a “mini-bus.” This is the first time in recent memory that these two appropriations bills were combined. Whether this unusual linkage will bring about a faster resolution remains to be seen. As of this writing, the House and the Senate have tentatively agreed to accept Senate education figures. The conference to reconcile these two appropriations bills was tentatively scheduled for the week of September 10, but that may be delayed to the last week of the month due to Hurricane Florence and Yom Kippur.

What may throw a hitch into appropriations is President Trump’s demand of $5 billion in funding for a border wall to be built between Mexico and the United States. Lucky for higher education, funding for the wall would have to originate in Homeland Security appropriations. The President said that he will shut down the government if the funding is not included. As of this writing, it remains to be seen how this will be resolved by September 30.

AJCU Federal Relations Network Conference: September 26-27
The 21st annual AJCU Federal Relations Conference is scheduled for September 26-27. Members of the AJCU Federal Relations Network, including government relations officers, financial aid directors and legal counsels will meet in Washington, D.C. for the gathering, which will follow the annual legislative conference and gala hosted by the Committee for Education Funding (CEF). Discussions will focus on the budget and appropriations, re-authorization of the Higher Education Act, regulations, DACA and the Dream Act, and taxes. This conference provides an opportunity to network with professionals from fellow Jesuit institutions, and to work together in pursuit of common goals.

By Serena Cosgrove, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of International Studies, Seattle University

Seattle University (SU) professor Serena Cosgrove, Ph.D. and students from SU and the University of Central America interview Doña Argentina in Chinandega, Nicaragua about family members' emigration (photo by Claire Garoutte)
Seattle University (SU) professor Serena Cosgrove, Ph.D. and students from SU and the University of Central America interview Doña Argentina in Chinandega, Nicaragua about family members’ emigration (photo by Claire Garoutte)


I never set out to be an expert on immigration, nor do I have a track record of scholarship on the topic. But when Seattle University’s (SU) sister Jesuit university in Managua, Nicaragua—the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA)—invited us to dedicate our collaborative efforts to research and advocacy on the topic of immigration in 2015, we began to organize and carry out projects for UCA and SU professors and students to work on together. In just a few years, these collaborations have evolved, and we’ve learned how migration, including the current crisis in Nicaragua, is affecting both the UCA and our ongoing twinning relationship.

But first a little bit of background about the relationship that connects our two universities.

The Central America Initiative—the partnership between the UCA and SU—brings together UCA and SU students, professors and administrators in 20-30 shared activities every year. Both institutions learn from each other through exchanging best practices and participating in joint research projects, social outreach programming and academic courses. The Central America Initiative is the flagship program of SU’s global engagement efforts, and an important component of the UCA’s commitment to internationalization. Thanks to generous donations, the Central America Initiative is endowed and recently expanded to include shared projects with sister Jesuit universities in El Salvador (Universidad Centroamericana in San Salvador) and Guatemala (Universidad Rafael Landívar).

SU students Emily, Laura and Andy work with Daniel, an indigenous leader, on developing an action plan for youth empowerment at an Intercultural Youth Camp in Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua (photo by Julia Bragado)
SU students Emily, Laura and Andy work with Daniel, an indigenous leader, on developing an action plan for youth empowerment at an Intercultural Youth Camp in Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua (photo by Julia Bragado)


In 2015 and 2016, SU and UCA participated in two shared research projects to study the effects of outbound emigration from Nicaragua to other countries. In 2015, two UCA faculty members and student researchers were joined by three SU faculty members and students to conduct on-site interviews in Chinandega, Nicaragua with families who had relatives living outside of the country. In 2016, UCA and SU professors and their students worked directly with the Servicio Jesuita a Migrantes (Jesuit Migrant Services) in Nicaragua to give cameras to youth whose parents had emigrated so that they could document for themselves the impacts of migration.

In both of these research trips (including the first one, where I served as a participant), it became increasingly apparent that more attention was needed to understand who stays behind, rather than solely focusing on who has emigrated. Nicaraguan emigration is different from its three neighbors in the north—Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala—where most emigration heads toward Mexico and the United States. Nicaraguans tend to emigrate regionally, most to Costa Rica (where roughly 500,000 Nicaraguans work in the service and construction sectors) and some to Panama. In most cases, they emigrate for economic reasons: seeking job opportunities that they couldn’t find at home given high poverty and unemployment in Nicaragua, one of the poorest countries in the region, second only to Haiti in the Americas. The ease of getting visas from Nicaragua to Costa Rica enables Nicaraguans to go there legally, avoiding the dangers and a lack of rights typically associated with traveling without papers.

In Nicaragua, we observed that when parents emigrate to find work abroad, it is the grandmothers or great-grandmothers who take over family caretaking responsibilities. Such work often puts stress on them, exacerbating mental and physical health problems. Ironically, it also generates financial stress: marginal jobs in destination countries come and go, and if there are health problems—including illness or injury—migrants seldom have access to sick leave. Our findings from this research led to photo exhibits and presentations about the ‘abuelización’ or ‘grandmothering’ of Nicaraguan society.

While this research was taking place, Rev. José Alberto Idiáquez S.J., president of the UCA, asked SU to join him in research about the Indigenous, Afro-indigenous, and Afro-descendent communities on the Caribbean coast. Fr. Idiáquez was interested in increasing the recruitment and retention of UCA students from the Caribbean coast given their underrepresentation at the University. This has led to multiple projects, from supporting indigenous youth leadership in the northeastern part of Nicaragua to a long-term research project about the persistence of the Afro-indigenous group, the Garifuna: a Central American people with roots in western Africa and the Caribbean. Today, about 300,000 Garifuna are concentrated on the Caribbean coast of Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Belize; about 50,000 Garifuna live in the United States.

SU-UCA research team with research participants and family members in Chinandega, Nicaragua (photo by Claire Garoutte)
SU-UCA research team with research participants and family members in Chinandega, Nicaragua (photo by Claire Garoutte)


In our ethnographic research, the topic of immigration keeps coming up. In order to obtain an education, Garifuna youth must leave for large Nicaraguan cities like Bluefields or Managua. But after earning their degrees, many must leave their communities of origin to earn a living elsewhere and support their elders back home. “Should I stay or should I go?” is a constant refrain for Garifuna youth as they are forced to ship out on cruise ships, or seek employment in Central American cities, or emigrate to earn a living and support their parents and other relatives.

Very few of us at SU anticipated how the current crisis in Nicaragua—student protests and widespread government repression since April 2018—would aggravate Nicaraguan emigration. Migration has become a literal escape valve to guarantee the physical safety of Nicaraguans. Roughly 200 Nicaraguans are requesting asylum every day in Costa Rica. Thousands of Nicaraguans—including many of the country’s best and brightest college students—are fleeing because they’ve received threats themselves or because the UCA and all public universities remain closed due to the unrest.

This politically motivated emigration—versus the economic migration we’ve been researching these past few years—has transformed the SU-UCA partnership into one of solidarity and advocacy. SU is raising awareness about the situation in Nicaragua by recommending actions of solidarity; raising scholarship funds for UCA students; and helping place students who have had to leave the country.

The UCA leadership assures us that solidarity from Jesuit universities throughout the Americas has been key to safeguarding the UCA campus and keeping their leaders safe for the time being. Here at Seattle University, we’ve been learning a lot about migration through our longstanding partnership with the UCA in Managua, Nicaragua. Not only are we more sensitive to the impact of economically motivated migration, we’ve become committed to increased solidarity with our brothers and sisters abroad.

For more information, please click on the following links:

Please keep your eye out for the forthcoming book, Surviving the Americas: Garifuna Persistence from Nicaragua to New York City (University of Cincinnati Press), by Serena Cosgrove, Ph.D. (SU) and Rev. José Alberto Idiáquez, S.J. (UCA).

By Marissa Montes & Emily Robinson, Co-Directors of the Loyola Immigrant Justice Clinic at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles

The Loyola Immigrant Justice Clinic at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles is the first law school-housed community-based immigration clinic in the United States. above. (L-R) Sandra Ruiz, staff attorney; Marissa Montes ’12, co-director; Emily Robinson ’…
The Loyola Immigrant Justice Clinic at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles is the first law school-housed community-based immigration clinic in the United States. above. (L-R) Sandra Ruiz, staff attorney; Marissa Montes ’12, co-director; Emily Robinson ’12, co-director; Professor Kathleen Kim, faculty adviser; Alejandro Barajas, staff attorney (photo by Loyola Marymount University)


On a recent Friday afternoon, attorneys at the Loyola Immigrant Justice Clinic (LIJC) at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles convened to discuss the most pressing challenges facing their immigrant clients. The biggest problem: Where to start.

“There are allegations of forced labor at some immigrant detention centers. The federal government is challenging California’s ability to inspect detention facilities while also seeking to destroy so-called sanctuary city policies. And asylum is more difficult to obtain than ever,” said Loyola Professor Kathleen Kim, faculty adviser to the clinic and a nationally renowned expert on immigration law. “It’s almost like the White House is deliberately trying to grind the immigration relief system to a halt.”

The LIJC, the first law school-housed, community-based immigration clinic in the United States, pursues justice on behalf of its clients through a range of initiatives: assistance with DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) renewals; humanitarian relief for unaccompanied minors and victims of crime; outreach on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border; immigration law training for pro bono removal defense attorneys; and free intake clinics in East Los Angeles.

The heart of the issue, as LIJC attorneys see it, is educating clients about their rights. To that end, more than 10,000 free client consultations have been conducted since the clinic was founded in 2012. Housed in the Loyola Social Justice Law Clinic, the LIJC is able to see clients both on-campus and at the sites of its partners, which include Jesuit-affiliated ministries like Homeboy Industries and the Dolores Mission.

“It is very important to assess all of your legal options,” said LIJC Co-Director Emily Robinson. “At this point, when laws are constantly in flux and we don’t know who is being prioritized and we’re unsure of enforcement actions, it’s critical to take the time to understand the entire legal landscape of your legal status.”

On a policy level, the LIJC has advocated for the fair implementation of sanctuary laws limiting California law enforcement officers’ obligations to collaborate with federal immigration authorities. The LIJC also authored testimony on behalf of law professors opposing case quotas for immigration judges (which, they argued, incentivise deportation) into the record with the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration.

As part of its expanding educational outreach efforts, a contingency of LIJC attorneys traveled this past summer to Jalisco, Mexico, where LIJC Co-Director Marissa Montes ’12 consulted with immigrants preparing to cross the border. “I warned them of the dangers they would face, including the possibility that children would be separated from their parents,” she said. “Most of them said they had no other option but to continue north.”

Earlier this year, in March 2018, LIJC attorneys organized a spring break trip to El Paso, Texas, as part of the hands-on class, “Immigration Law and the Border.” This unique course exposed students to policy and legal issues in the classroom and on the front lines of the immigration debate, all while providing a healthy dose of client representation. Students engaged in a variety of activities designed to expose them to the real-life challenges they will encounter as immigration lawyers.

“The experience broadened my perspective on how immigration issues play out in other parts of the country,” said Anabel Martinez ’18. The LIJC will continue its frontline efforts by bringing law students back to the border in January 2019 to aid asylum seekers.

In Los Angeles, with removal proceedings surging, the LIJC is training attorneys to help with removal defense. Thanks to a grant from the California Foundation through the L.A. Justice Fund (LAJF), the LIJC and its partners developed and are implementing a curriculum to train seasoned immigration attorneys on challenging removal cases, and to serve as mentors to as many as 100 up-and-coming advocates. The grant will help fund a resource bank with webinars and materials to support the immigration removal defense efforts of its trainees and affiliates.

The LIJC has also implemented the Removal Defense 101 program to prepare interns for removal defense work. The new practicum will place the interns (law students from Loyola and other schools working with L.A. Justice Fund grantee organizations) with other LAJF beneficiaries to assist clients in removal cases. In addition, the LIJC developed a new course that launched in August 2018 at Loyola Law School on immigration bond. The first of its kind in Los Angeles County, this course will teach law students to represent clients and secure their release from immigration detention.

Elsewhere, Loyola Law School and its parent institution, Loyola Marymount University (LMU), have strongly supported undocumented students. The LIJC has assisted with more than 500 DACA applications and renewals since January 2016. Meanwhile, LMU President, Timothy Law Snyder, Ph.D., has publicly expressed his support for DACA recipients, also known as Dreamers. In a September 2017 letter to the LMU community, he wrote, “Since the advent of DACA, we have experienced its profound benefits for our students and its positive impacts on our university and our nation.”

As the need for immigration services escalates, Loyola students, staff attorneys, professors and administrators underscore their pride in Loyola’s commitment to public service. Robinson said, “We are fortunate to be part of Loyola, where we are truly trained to be lawyers for others.”

By Patrick Verel, Assistant Editor, Office of Marketing & Communications, Fordham University

Internally displaced persons in North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (photo by Sergi Camara/Entreculturas via Jesuit Refugee Service International)
Internally displaced persons in North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (photo by Sergi Camara/Entreculturas via Jesuit Refugee Service International)


It takes a certain kind of person to take seriously the Ignatian exhortation to “Go forth and set the world on fire.” This fall, students who want to do just that are gaining all of the skills needed to work in the field of humanitarian aid through a new graduate degree program at Fordham University.

In November 2017, Fordham’s Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA) established a Master of Science in Humanitarian Studies, a 30-credit interdisciplinary program built on social justice values and humanitarian principles. Offered through Fordham’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, it is the first U.S.-based Master’s degree dedicated exclusively to international humanitarian response. This month, the University welcomed its inaugural cohort of students.

The IIHA already offers an executive-style Master of Arts in Humanitarian Action program for professionals working in the public or non-profit sectors. But according to Brendan Cahill, executive director of IIHA, this new M.S. program will appeal to recent college graduates who want to learn skills that nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are looking for.

Cahill says that the need for the program has never been greater. The crisis in Syria, for instance, is just the latest in a series of conflicts that have overwhelmed the ability of the humanitarian sector; conflicts are also affecting Iraq, Palestine, Ukraine, Chad, South Sudan, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Libya and Somalia.

“Relief operations are hampered by funds, political will and the lack of trained personnel. Our institute has tried to identify innovative approaches to complex emergencies through our training, our research, and our publications,” Cahill says. “We need people at all levels to be open to new ways of mitigating and responding to these crises. The classes that our students take have direct relevance to what is happening. While they are non-sectarian, they are rooted in social justice and thus our location within a Jesuit university is appropriate.”

One half of the program’s first cohort hails from undergraduate colleges affiliated with the Network on Humanitarian Actions (an international association of universities), while the other half attended Jesuit colleges or universities. Fordham undergraduate students from any degree program will be able to apply in their junior year to an accelerated track, allowing them to complete both a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree in just five years. Cahill says, “It’s a natural graduate degree for those students who are already inculcated in Ignatian pedagogy. The Jesuit approach is to look at the whole person, and that’s part of what we’re teaching them.”

The program offers three distinct tracks: Human Rights, Communities and Capacity Building, and Livelihoods and Institutions. Cahill notes that in the past, a person might have obtained a degree in food security, logistics or accounting, and then learned on the job as they rose through the ranks of a NGO. But with this degree, students will graduate with a suite of skills at their fingertips, from financial and communication skills, to data analysis and development.

“By combining these disparate elements, you become a more well-rounded aid professional,” Cahill says. “These skills complement the passion and compassion that naturally leads one into the humanitarian sector.”

All students will take five courses that have been created exclusively for the degree: Fundamentals of Humanitarian Action; Contemporary Issues in Humanitarian Action; Information Management; Humanitarian Resource Management and Administration; and Monitoring and Evaluation in Humanitarian Response.

In addition to classwork, students will have full access to the resources that go into the Institute’s events, such as conferences on blockchain and humanitarian design. When it comes to tackling issues such as migration and refugees, conferences like these are key to staying on top of a fast-changing sector. Cahill notes that blockchain is of special interest to the aid community as it has the potential to make the delivery of funds to those in need more secure, and cut down on waste and corruption. It’s a prime example of how quickly the field is evolving.

Another draw of the degree program is the vast network of partnerships that students will be able to tap into through their classes and a mandatory semester-long internship. If a student is interested in a subject that is not being offered at Fordham, he or she will be able to study it during an internship elsewhere. For example, a class on food security might be offered through the University College in Dublin, and a course on education in emergencies might be offered by Jesuit Refugee Service.

Cahill says, “We can teach students a lot by being in the capital of the world. The United Nations headquarters are based in New York, and there are so many other humanitarian NGOs based here as well. But how else are you going to learn other than by getting experience in the field?

“We’ve been running training programs for 20 years. We have 3,000 alumni in middle-to-senior levels at organizations around the world. There’s a growing number of undergraduates who view their liberal arts education through the prism of humanitarian studies, but for those who want to go into the field, there has to be a mentorship. There has to be a hand that’s put out for them to pull them in. That’s what this program is designed to do.”

By Susan M. Weishar, Ph.D., Policy and Research Fellow at the Jesuit Social Research Institute, Loyola University New Orleans

 Susan Weishar, Ph.D. addresses a Catholic Teach-in on Migration at St. Anthony of Padua Church in New Orleans during the height of the child migration crisis in August 2014 (photo by S. Weishar)

Susan Weishar, Ph.D. addresses a Catholic Teach-in on Migration at St. Anthony of Padua Church in New Orleans during the height of the child migration crisis in August 2014 (photo by S. Weishar)

 Catholic Teach-in on Migration at St. Anthony of Padua Church in New Orleans in August 2014 (photo by S. Weishar)

Catholic Teach-in on Migration at St. Anthony of Padua Church in New Orleans in August 2014 (photo by S. Weishar)

 Rev. Fred Kammer, S.J. speaks at an immigration rally at Loyola University New Orleans (photo by S. Weishar)

Rev. Fred Kammer, S.J. speaks at an immigration rally at Loyola University New Orleans (photo by S. Weishar)

 An ESL class in New Orleans with student volunteers from Loyola University New Orleans (photo by S. Weishar)

An ESL class in New Orleans with student volunteers from Loyola University New Orleans (photo by S. Weishar)

 Nuns rallying for immigration at Loyola University New Orleans (photo by S. Weishar)

Nuns rallying for immigration at Loyola University New Orleans (photo by S. Weishar)

The Jesuit Social Research Institute (JSRI) was founded in 2007 as a collaborative project of Loyola University New Orleans and the Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province. The mission of JSRI is to promote a faith that does justice through education, advocacy and research on the core issues of race, poverty and migration. Our geographic focus is the Gulf South states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Texas.

In August 2010, I was hired as the JSRI “Migration Specialist.” Here is a brief overview of the immigration-related work of JSRI in our three areas of activity—advocacy, education and research.


As with all of the work performed at JSRI, we approach advocacy through the lens of Catholic Social Teaching by conducting both social analysis (an exploration of historical and structural relationships, often best revealed in the social sciences) and theological reflection (asking what core values of Scripture and Church teachings are pertinent to the social reality being addressed).

Immigrant advocacy at JSRI involves a variety of methods, from organizing delegations to visit local offices of members of Congress, to writing sign-on letters or op-eds that address issues like the extension of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), opposition to anti-sanctuary city bills, and support for comprehensive immigration reform. During the spring 2018 semester, a sign-on letter in support of Dreamers for the Loyola University Community Action Program garnered over 250 signatures from students, faculty and staff.

JSRI’s Executive Director, Rev. Fred Kammer, S.J., and I have testified at Louisiana state legislative hearings to oppose a state-wide E-verify system; a SB 10 copy-cat bill; legislation that would make it difficult for immigrants to marry in Louisiana; and anti-sanctuary city bills.

JSRI has organized several immigrant advocacy events to lift up the voices of local immigrants and to widen the circle of their advocates. In November 2013, eighty Catholic sisters from twelve religious communities made passionate appeals for immigration reform alongside immigrant workers at a “Nuns Rally for Immigration Reform” event on the front lawn of Loyola University New Orleans. When arguments addressing President Obama’s Executive Order on DACA and DAPA (Deferred Action for Parental Accountability) were heard at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans in July 2015, JSRI organized an Interfaith Prayer Vigil in front of the courthouse. We helped organize a rally for Syrian immigrants later that year in the French Quarter. In August 2015 (coinciding with the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina), JSRI held a “Homeowners Rally for Immigrant Justice,” again on Loyola’s front lawn. At that event, immigrants shared their experience rebuilding New Orleans, while local homeowners expressed their deep gratitude to the immigrant workers who made their homes whole again.

We make sure that advocacy events like these are well covered by local and sometimes national media. We regularly ask the more than 3,600 people who have registered with our email advocacy program, Voter Voice, to respond to Action Alerts we prepare on urgent immigrant justice matters.


Some of the most important venues for educating Gulf Coast Catholics and others on immigration issues are our in-house publications. The JustSouth Quarterly is mailed to over 1,200 readers, including many Catholic leaders in the five Gulf South states. Our monthly JustSouth newsletter is sent via e-mail to all students, faculty and staff members at Loyola, as well as 2,100 additional subscribers. In addition to educating our readers on the social, economic and spiritual dimensions of migration, I also strive to explain how immigrants are personally experiencing our nation’s immigration crisis.

In 2011, I developed an ESL program at a local Catholic church to serve immigrants from Central America after the Sunday morning Spanish Mass. Through the program, called Café con Ingles, Loyola students provide one-on-on tutoring services as part of their Service Learning requirements. Evaluations indicate that the program has helped the Loyola students gain important insights into local immigrants’ lives, including the difficult and often painful challenges of living as undocumented individuals.


In 2017, JSRI concluded a two-year study on how faith communities in the Southern United States can better welcome immigrants, advocate for immigrant justice, and re-frame the public discourse on immigration. Recovering the Human Face of Immigration in the U.S. South was done in collaboration with the University of Florida and funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Some of my research efforts over the years have included analyses of a project on alternatives to detention; immigrants’ experiences with electronic monitoring devices; and outcomes from specific JSRI education and advocacy programs. An on-going research project involves collecting and analyzing information on human rights violations at privately-owned prisons and immigrant detention centers.


For the past two years, Rev. Rafael Garcia, S.J. has served as a JSRI associate in the El Paso, TX area, where he ministers regularly to detained adult immigrants and immigrant children living in youth shelters. Fr. Rafa is also leading efforts to establish The Encuentro Project to provide border “immersion” experiences and, most important, encounters between visitors and people who live in the border region.

JSRI developed the Catholic Teach-In on Migration (CTOM) to create greater empathy and understanding (a “culture of encounter”) of undocumented immigration. We do this by bringing together undocumented immigrants and U.S.-born Catholics in a prayerful, intimate and safe space. Since 2014, JSRI has conducted twelve CTOMs in multiple cities: New Orleans, LA (two at Loyola); El Paso, TX; St. Louis, MO; and Biloxi, MS.

This past summer, JSRI developed a Novena for Migrant Families to encourage people of faith to pray together for migrant families; develop a deeper understanding of the challenges facing our immigrant sisters and brothers; and demonstrate solidarity with families fleeing poverty, violence and oppression for peace and freedom in the U.S.


We welcome readers to visit our website,, where they can find all documents needed to conduct a Catholic Teach-In on Migration and/or a Novena for Migrant Families, as well as links to JSRI publications, information on The Encuentro Project, and Action Alerts.

By Anna Gaynor, Content Manager, Loyola University Chicago

In 2010, a magnitude 7 earthquake destroyed homes and other buildings across Haiti (photo by Getty Images, courtesy of Loyola University Chicago)
In 2010, a magnitude 7 earthquake destroyed homes and other buildings across Haiti (photo by Getty Images, courtesy of Loyola University Chicago)


After any hurricane, earthquake, wildfire, or other catastrophic event, it’s not difficult to see the immediate damage: destroyed shorelines, crumbling buildings, flooded streets, flattened landscapes. After the news coverage ends though, what happens to those forced out of their homes can be a longer and more precarious road.

Just one example: of the 1.5 million people displaced after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, nearly 38,000 have still been unable to return home. Children, in particular, face more risks and challenges when their lives are destabilized, and in Haiti, many children, including those with a living parent, were sent to live in orphanages where later reports emerged of sexual abuse as well as labor and sex trafficking.

Tens of thousands of Haitians spent years living in tent cities following the 2010 earthquake (photo by Getty Images, courtesy of Loyola University Chicago)
Tens of thousands of Haitians spent years living in tent cities following the 2010 earthquake (photo by Getty Images, courtesy of Loyola University Chicago)


“Those who are most vulnerable are children because they often don’t know how to advocate for themselves,” said Katherine Kaufka Walts, director of Loyola University Chicago’s Center for the Human Rights of Children. “In these situations, parents and children are doing what they can to survive. That’s a situation that makes youth ripe for various types of exploitation and harm, not just human trafficking.”

The mission of the Center for the Human Rights of Children is to advance and protect the rights of young people, both locally and globally, by coordinating research, education and advocacy across disciplines. Two of the center’s areas of focus are child trafficking and vulnerable youth navigating social systems on their own. When refugee and migrant youth are forced out of their homes, whether it’s due to conflict, violence, natural disasters, political climates or discrimination, they become more susceptible to human rights abuses and violations. Climate change can be a large or contributing factor in such situations.

Walts said, “In many areas, part of war and conflict is a fight for resources. When you have catastrophic events, whether it’s drought, hurricanes or storms, that has really serious impacts on both the economy and decisions to migrate, which can lead to political conflict. Such conflict often leads to displacement of children and families, making them more vulnerable to human rights abuses as they are forced to flee their homes and seek safety elsewhere.”

A closer look:

68.5 million people have been forcibly displaced worldwide

50% of the world’s nearly 22.5 million refugees are under the age of 18

350% increase in unaccompanied child refugees between 2010-11 and 2015-16

This spring, experts gathered to discuss this issue at Loyola University Chicago’s fifth annual Climate Change Conference, hosted by Loyola’s Institute of Environmental Sustainability and the Gannon Center for Women and Leadership. Dan Amick, an anthropologist and associate dean of faculty at Loyola, moderated a panel on “Climate Refugees in a Changing World,” which focused on the effects of climate change on human societies as well as the challenges still facing Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. United Nations studies suggest that the number of environmental migrants may rise as high as 200 million in the next few decades as climate change continues to stress vulnerable environments.

And as the number of displaced people and refugees continues to grow, children can be easily overlooked. An important part of the Center for the Human Rights of Children’s mission and work is to enforce existing international and national laws that provide them with protection, and to advocate for the unique needs of children as they migrate.

“We have the largest number of displaced people relative to our population that we’ve had in history,” said Walts. “This is a significant historical moment, and displacement of children and families will continue as climate change continues to wreak havoc on our globe and where we live. It is one of the most pressing issues of our time, and one that will require a convergence of experts and stakeholders across disciplines and sectors to address.”

By Sarah Carroll, Director of Communications, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA

JRS International Director, Rev. Thomas H. Smolich S.J. (in dark blue), visiting St. Mary Assumpta in uganda, where JRS provides scholarships, teacher training & school supplies (photo by JRS International)
JRS International Director, Rev. Thomas H. Smolich S.J. (in dark blue), visiting St. Mary Assumpta in uganda, where JRS provides scholarships, teacher training & school supplies (photo by JRS International)


We are currently facing the greatest crisis of displaced people since World War II. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that 68.5 million people are currently forcibly displaced from their homes – that’s 30 people newly displaced every minute. The Jesuit Refugee Service/USA (JRS/USA) is committed to working to respond to these people and to their plight. We work in more than 50 countries around the world to accompany, serve and advocate for refugees.

Fowzia, originally from Somalia, is a former student in a JRS camp who now volunteers as an English teacher (photo by JRS International)
Fowzia, originally from Somalia, is a former student in a JRS camp who now volunteers as an English teacher (photo by JRS International)


In recent months, our advocacy work through JRS/USA has been to ensure that no vulnerable group or nationality is excluded from entry into the United States; that the dignity of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons everywhere is restored; to promote the education of refugees around the world; and to bring on new leadership.

Advocating for Refugee Resettlement
The U.S. response to the global refugee crisis is in retreat. In the past year, only 18,327 refugees have been resettled in the U.S., compared to an historical average of 85,000 refugees resettled per year. This number may be even lower next year. Together in consultation with Congress, the Trump Administration is in the process of setting an annual target: a Presidential Determination (PD) for Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2019.

As an organization working with refugees around the world, we know first-hand how the U.S. refugee resettlement program provides a life-saving solution to the most vulnerable refugees. A diminished U.S. role will disrupt families and place individuals at further risk. JRS/USA has been advocating in coalition and with lawmakers to push for a higher annual target and a more robust resettlement program. We have also been asking our friends and supporters to make their voices heard on this issue. Click here to write a letter to your representatives: Encourage them to provide a life-saving option for refugees who are unable to return home or stay in the country to which they fled, by setting a refugee admission target of at least 75,000 refugees in FY19.

Two smiling students at the Frans van der Lugt Centre in Bourj Hammoud, Lebanon (photo by JRS International)
Two smiling students at the Frans van der Lugt Centre in Bourj Hammoud, Lebanon (photo by JRS International)


Education for Refugees
This fall, children across the U.S. will fill unused back packs with fresh pencils and notebooks, take a reluctant first-day photo, and head back to school. At this time of year, as we feel the excitement of a new academic calendar and the start of endless opportunities, it is important to reflect on the importance of education to all people, especially the most vulnerable in our world – displaced people. Click here to learn how you can support them through the JRS/USA “Back to School” gift catalog.

New Leadership
This past spring, JRS/USA brought on Joan Rosenhauer, a nonprofit and advocacy expert and Catholic humanitarian, to lead the organization as its first female Executive Director. A recognized leader in the international humanitarian world, she has relentlessly put her faith into action for over three decades, most recently serving as the Executive Vice President of Catholic Relief Services (CRS). Rosenhauer is a former JRS/USA Board Member and has spent most of her career mobilizing the U.S. Catholic community and advocating for social justice.

By Stephanie Russell, Ed.D., Vice President & Consultant for Mission Integration, AJCU

Souad Oumar Mohamot, a secondary school student in Iridimi, Chad (photo by Giulia McPherson for JRS/USA)
Souad Oumar Mohamot, a secondary school student in Iridimi, Chad (photo by Giulia McPherson for JRS/USA)


Never, in living memory, has the issue of forced migration been more pressing in our country and world. The United Nations reported in June that an alarming 68.5 million people have been displaced from their homes – more than at any time since World War II. For the faculty and staff of Jesuit colleges and universities, this is more than a political crisis or a human rights statistic. Seeking to be true to our foundational mission, we hold in our mind’s eye the significance of every person stripped of dignity, work and land; of every child torn from home; of every community unmoored and dispersed, perhaps forever. It is not simply our social responsibility: it is our sacred obligation to place our minds, hearts and labors where the human family needs them most.

Of course, scholars at Jesuit institutions have, for many years, been engaged in research on various aspects of migration – from threats to the health and safety of refugees, to the inaccessibility of education, to environmental precipitators of forced displacement. Some faculty members have formed collaborative networks, across university and national boundaries, and even gathered in-person to generate common research projects around migration in a specific region.

As the plight of migrants has worsened and widened over the past two years, however, requests from faculty at Jesuit schools for a collaborative, academic infrastructure have become more urgent. “How,” they ask, “can we find and work with faculty at Jesuit schools, at home and abroad, to put the full force of Jesuit higher education at the service of those who are forcibly displaced?”

As one response, the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) has launched a new Migration Research Directory. This online tool (built on a searchable, open-access platform) allows faculty to list their research interests, along with articles, video lectures and other scholarly links. The result is a rich academic resource for faculty at Jesuit colleges and universities around the globe, as well as NGOs, lawmakers and all citizens concerned about migration issues.

The AJCU Migration Research Directory began as a U.S.-based project, and has quickly attracted the attention and involvement of scholars from international Jesuit institutions. Its current roster of 310 scholars is growing steadily, and includes faculty members from Latin America, Asia and Europe. Creating a truly international resource requires some adaptation along the way. Some scholars in Latin America, for example, typically forge closer bonds between research and advocacy than what scholars customarily do in the United States. Identifying these academic emphases and differences helps everyone involved to work more effectively, across cultures.

Beyond higher education, the Jesuit network of social centers, research institutes, high schools, parishes and other works can all benefit from the resources found in the directory. As colleagues at these institutions share their needs for research that would benefit migrants in their communities, the academy becomes better informed about the crucial concerns of those who are displaced. This connection between researchers and those “in the field” is an invaluable asset of the Jesuit network.

If you are a faculty member engaged in research that connects in any way to issues of migration, refugees or forced displacement, we strongly encourage you to join the Migration Research Directory. Every participating faculty member enriches the project and makes it more useful to others. Similarly, members of the global Jesuit network are warmly welcome to search the directory and share it widely. Please help us realize the potential of this resource, and respond even more clearly to the needs of migrants and refugees in our world.

The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) sponsors over 35 conferences (affinity groups) within the AJCU Network. The conferences provide a forum for the exchange of ideas, information and best practices; support the professional development of their members; and present opportunities for AJCU representatives to discuss collaboration and challenges in Jesuit higher education.

Most of the AJCU conferences host meetings at least once a year, and many of them facilitate regular communication among members through listservs. The following meetings will be held this fall:

Chief Academic Officers
October 25-27, 2018: Georgetown University
Host: Dr. Robert Groves, Georgetown University
Phone: (202) 687-6400, E-mail:
Click here to register online.

AJCU International Education Conference
October 31-November 2, 2018: Creighton University
Chair: René Padilla, Creighton University
Phone: (402) 280-4745, E-mail:
Click here to register online.

Mission and Identity Conference
November 7-8, 2018: College of the Holy Cross
Host: Rev. William Campbell, S.J., College of the Holy Cross
Phone: (508) 793-2446, E-mail:
Click here to register online.

Senior Student Affairs Officers (SSAO)
November 7-9, 2018: College of the Holy Cross
President: Dr. Todd Olson, Georgetown University
Phone: (202) 687-6318,
Click here to register online.

Theology & Religious Studies Chairs
November 15-16, 2018: Regis University
Chair: Dr. J. Patrick Hornbeck, II, Fordham University
Phone: (718) 817-3240,

Human Resources
September 10-13, 2018: Seattle University
Host: Michelle Clements, Seattle University
Phone: (206) 296-5869,
Click here for more information.

Education Deans Conference
October 3-5, 2018: Regis University
President: Dr. Vincent C. Alfonso, Gonzaga University
Phone: (509) 313-3594,

Business Deans
October 14-16, 2018: Loyola University Chicago
Chair: Kevin Stevens, Loyola University Chicago
Phone: (312) 915-6115, E-mail:

Deans of Adult and Continuing Education (DACE)
October 16-18, 2018: Boston College
President: Dr. Richard Fehrenbacher, Seattle University
Phone: (206) 220-8269, E-mail:
Click here to register online.

Jesuit Graduate Enrollment Management Professionals (JGAP)
October 25-26, 2018: University of Detroit Mercy
President: Carl Wainscott, Marquette University
Phone: (414) 288-5319,
Click here to register online.


This fall will also see a number of events for alumni of Jesuit colleges and universities, including the annual Jesuit Friends and Alumni Masses on October 20-21, sponsored by the USA Northeast Jesuit Province. To learn more about all of these events, visit

Jesuit Friends and Alumni Sunday 9.7.2018 Save the Date.FINAL (003).jpg