At 3:23 p.m. today, the University released a statement by President Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw regarding the Trump Administration’s recent announcement to repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program known as DACA.
In the statement, which was delivered to the University community via email sent by Internal Communications, Gempesaw referred to his own status as an immigrant to the U.S. and said that he signed a statement last November “calling for the DACA program to be ‘upheld, continued and expanded.'”
He also said that the University will continue to monitor the status of the repeal to determine how best to “respond and support those impacted by the decision.”
The statement is as follows:
Wednesday, September 6, 2017
I write in regard to the decision announced by the White House rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Congress now has six months to act to preserve the program’s protections before DACA recipients begin losing their status in the United States.
As a proud immigrant to this country, I am disheartened by some of the political rhetoric and discourse that persists around the ongoing debate for meaningful and comprehensive immigration reform. We are a nation of immigrants, with the same hopes as those who came before us and desire to achieve the American dream. During these difficult times, I ask the St. John’s community to draw strength from our founding mission to be a place for immigrants and their children to attain a quality education. That mission endures and thrives today.
On November 21, 2016, I joined more than 600 college and university presidents across the United States in signing a statement calling for the DACA program to “be upheld, continued and expanded.” The almost 800,000 DACA beneficiaries or Dreamers—brought to America as children by their undocumented parents—have already been vetted by a rigorous application process and have resided in this country since 2007. They have been, and continue to be, contributing members of society. Many are exemplary scholars, student leaders and some even serve with distinction in the armed forces and pay the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
Our University leadership will continue to monitor this ongoing situation and determine how best to respond and support those who are impacted by this recent decision. Any student who may have questions or concerns regarding this matter should contact the Division of Student Affairs at 718-990-6568.
I hope and pray that leaders in the federal government will negotiate and pass a comprehensive immigration reform that will provide a fair, just and timely path forward for all those registered under the DACA program and for all those still living in fear in the shadows of our society. This year, St. John’s observes and celebrates the 400th anniversary of the Vincentian charism. The theme for the year is “Welcome the Stranger.” It is a fitting reminder of what our University stands for and our moral obligation to help those most in need.
This past Tuesday, President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that DACA will be rescinded. Sessions said that a “wind-down process” of the program will be taking place, as well as a six-month period for Congress to pass a replacement for it.
“We cannot admit everyone who would like to come here, it’s just that simple,” Sessions said during the announcement.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was established by the Obama administration on June 15, 2012. Under DACA, certain undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. before the age of sixteen were granted “a period of deferred action as well as eligibility to request employment authorization,” according to the Department of Homeland Security.
The Torch will be following up on this matter in its first issue of the semester, to be released on Sept. 13.