The campus of Villanova, a Catholic university in the western suburbs of Philadelphia. (David Aaron Troy/Villanova)

More than 70 leaders in Catholic higher education have signed a statement of solidarity with undocumented students, urging protection for those who arrived in the United States as children at a time when the incoming Trump administration is pledging to crack down on illegal immigration.

Among the signers of the statement made public Wednesday by the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities were the presidents of Villanova University, DePaul University, Boston College and Catholic University in the nation’s capital.

In the statement, the leaders took note of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which the Obama administration launched in 2012. DACA shields from deportation certain undocumented immigrants who arrived before their 16th birthday and enables them to obtain a work permit. President-elect Donald Trump has pledged to rescind executive actions on immigration that he considers overreach, and his transition team says DACA is an example.

“Many of us count among our students young men and women who are undocumented, their families having fled violence and instability,” the statement from Catholic educators said. “These students have met the criteria of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, issued in 2012. We, the undersigned presidents of Catholic colleges and universities, express hope that the students in our communities who have qualified for DACA are able to continue their studies without interruption and that many more students in their situation will be welcome to contribute their talents to our campuses.”

The statement issued Wednesday does not go as far as one circulated last week — now signed by more than 400 college and university leaders — that urged the nation’s leaders to uphold and expand DACA. But it reinforced the sense that many in higher education are mobilizing to protect a vulnerable student population at a time of upheaval in immigration policy.

Here is the full text of Wednesday’s statement:

Catholic education has been part of the fabric of American life for more than two centuries. Our colleges and universities share a long history of educating students from a diverse array of socioeconomic, geographical, and ethnic backgrounds, often welcoming those on society’s margins, especially immigrants and underprivileged populations. Today, Catholic institutions of higher education continue this mission and legacy. Our college and university communities are home to students from around the world who seek to contribute to American society, to the life and mission of the Church, and to their own formation and growth by pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Many of us count among our students young men and women who are undocumented, their families having fled violence and instability. These students have met the criteria of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, issued in 2012. We, the undersigned presidents of Catholic colleges and universities, express hope that the students in our communities who have qualified for DACA are able to continue their studies without interruption and that many more students in their situation will be welcome to contribute their talents to our campuses. Undocumented students need assistance in confronting legal and financial uncertainty and in managing the accompanying anxieties. We pledge to support these students — through our campus counseling and ministry support, through legal resources from those campuses with law schools and legal clinics, and through whatever other services we may have at our disposal.

When Pope Francis visited the United States last year he had this to say to the World Meeting of Families gathered in Philadelphia: “Among us today are members of America’s large Hispanic population, as well as representatives of recent immigrants to the United States. Many of you have emigrated (I greet you warmly!) to this country at great personal cost, in the hope of building a new life. Do not be discouraged by whatever hardships you face. I ask you not to forget that, like those who came here before you, you bring many gifts to this nation.” We are committed to educating these young people, brought to the United States by their parents, who come to our universities to build for themselves and us a brighter future.

Here is a list of signers:

  • Sr. Peg Albert, OP, Siena Heights University
  • Sr. Linda Bevilacqua, OP, Barry University
  • Nancy Blattner, Caldwell University
  • Thomas Botzman, Misericordia University
  • Noreen Carrocci, Newman University
  • Donna M. Carroll, Dominican University
  • Msgr. Franklyn Casale, St. Thomas University
  • Francesco C. Cesareo, Assumption College
  • Arturo Chávez, Mexican American Catholic College
  • James E. Collins, Loras College
  • Eugene J. Cornacchia, Saint Peter’s University
  • Thomas Curran, SJ, Rockhurst University
  • Bassam M. Deeb, Trocaire College
  • John Denning, CSC, Stonehill College
  • James A. Donahue, Saint Mary’s College of California
  • Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, Villanova University
  • Gabriel Esteban, Seton Hall University
  • Thomas M. Evans, Carroll College
  • John P. Fitzgibbons, SJ, Regis University
  • Scott Flanagan, Edgewood College
  • Thomas Flynn, Alvernia University
  • Michael Galligan-Stierle, Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities
  • Antoine M. Garibaldi, University of Detroit Mercy
  • John Garvey, The Catholic University of America
  • Mary Ann Gawelek, Lourdes University
  • Conrado Gempesaw, St. John’s University (N.Y.)
  • Sr. Jane Gerety, RSM, Salve Regina University
  • Michael Graham, SJ, Xavier University (Ohio)
  • Michael. A. Grandillo, Madonna University
  • Judith Maxwell Greig, Notre Dame de Namur University
  • Laurie Hamen, Mount Mercy University
  • Colleen M. Hanycz, La Salle University
  • James T. Harris III, University of San Diego
  • Antoinette M. Hays, Regis College
  • Roy F. Heynderickx, Saint Martin’s University
  • Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, CM, DePaul University
  • Rev. Larry Hostetter, Brescia University
  • John J. Hurley, Canisius College
  • Sr. Candace Introcaso, CDP, La Roche College
  • Arvid C. Johnson, University of St. Francis (Ill.)
  • Sr. Anne Kilbride, OP, Albertus Magnus College
  • Sr. M. Elise Kriss, University of Saint Francis (Ind.)
  • Lucas Lamadrid, Marymount California University
  • William P. Leahy, SJ, Boston College
  • Sr. Andrea Lee, IHM, Alverno College
  • Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ, St. Ambrose University
  • Ann McElaney-Johnson, Mount Saint Mary’s University, Los Angeles
  • Sr. Maureen McGarrity, CSFN, Holy Family University
  • Patricia McGuire, Trinity Washington University
  • Joseph M. McShane, SJ, Fordham University
  • Joseph R. Marbach, Georgian Court University
  • Thomas Mengler, St. Mary’s University (Tex.)
  • Brennan O’Donnell, Manhattan College
  • Brother John Paige, CSC, Holy Cross College (Ind.)
  • John Petillo, Sacred Heart University
  • Christopher P. Puto, Spring Hill College
  • Mark C. Reed, Saint Joseph’s University
  • Mary Lou Retelle, Anna Maria College
  • Brian J. Shanley, OP, Providence College
  • Michael Sheeran, SJ, Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities
  • John Smarrelli Jr., Christian Brothers University
  • Timothy Law Snyder, Loyola Marymount University
  • Eric F. Spina, University of Dayton
  • Sr. Diane Steele, SCL, University of Saint Mary
  • Sr. Maryanne Stevens, RSM, College of Saint Mary
  • Helen J. Streubert, College of Saint Elizabeth
  • Julie H. Sullivan, University of St. Thomas (Minn.)
  • Stephen V. Sundborg, SJ, Seattle University
  • Msgr. Stuart W. Swetland, Donnelly College
  • Donald Taylor, Cabrini University
  • Timothy E. Trainor, Mount St. Mary’s University (Md.)
  • Sr. Carol Jean Vale, SSJ, Chestnut Hill College
  • Jeffrey P. von Arx, SJ, Fairfield University
  • Kevin Wm. Wildes, SJ, Loyola University New Orleans
  • Ken Zirkle, Ancilla College

Update: As of Friday afternoon, here are additional signers:

  • Philip L. Boroughs, SJ, College of the Holy Cross
  • Sr. Joanne Burrows, Clarke University
  • Barbara Q. Decker, Mercy College of Health Sciences
  • James S. Dlugos, Saint Joseph’s College of Maine
  • Sr. R. Patricia Fadden, IHM, Immaculata University
  • Rev. Paul J. Fitzgerald, SJ, University of San Francisco
  • Thomas P. Foley, Mount Aloysius College
  • Thomas J. Gamble, Maria College
  • Colette Geary, The College of St. Scholastica
  • Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, Creighton University
  • Sharon Latchaw Hirsh, Rosemont College
  • Fr. John I. Jenkins, CSC, University of Notre Dame
  • Linda M. LeMura, Le Moyne College
  • David J. Livingston, Lewis University
  • Daniel Lowery, Calumet College of St. Joseph
  • Thayne M. McCulloh, Gonzaga University
  • George E. Martin, St. Edward’s University
  • Diane E. Melby, Our Lady of the Lake University
  • Rosalie M. Mirenda, Neumann University
  • John J. Neuhauser, Saint Michael’s College
  • Joseph E. Nyre, Iona College
  • Kathleen Owens, Gwynedd Mercy University
  • Sr. Mary Persico, IHM, Marywood University
  • Fred P. Pestello, Saint Louis University
  • Rev. Mark L. Poorman, CSC, University of Portland
  • J. Michael Pressimone, Fontbonne University
  • Kevin P. Quinn, SJ, University of Scranton
  • ReBecca Roloff, St. Catherine University
  • Eileen Schwalbach, Mount Mary University
  • Matthew Shank, Marymount University
  • Ronald A. Slepitza, Avila University
  • Reynold Verret, Xavier University of Louisiana