Alumni Call on Georgetown to Keep Families Together

SIGN THE PETITION Stop Secretary Jeh Johnson from receiving an honorary degree from Georgetown University

May 9, 2016

John J. DeGioia President, Georgetown University

Joel Hellman, Dean of Walsh School of Foreign Service

Todd A. Olson, Ph.D., Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

William J. Doyle, (C’72), Chair, Board of Directors

Dear President DeGioia, Dean Hellman, Vice President Olson, and Chairman Doyle

As alumni, we still remember the moment we walked across the stage to graduate from Georgetown University. Many of us proudly celebrated this milestone in the company of our family and friends. Commencement season is supposed to be about making this moment a reality, about bringing families together to celebrate the accomplishments of all students. Unfortunately, the School of Foreign Service and Georgetown University have taken that opportunity away from graduating students.

The decision to invite and honor Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson turns its back on Jesuit values and disrespects alumni who have fought to build institutional inclusion for all students, including undocumented students, students of mixed status families, and their allies.

Secretary Johnson heads one of the most inhumane and unjust immigration systems in the world. Under his watch, hundreds of thousands of immigrants have faced detention and deportation, including immigrants who are part of the Georgetown community. He also oversaw the reopening of family detention centers that place children and their parents in horrendous prisons run by for-profit corporations. Fr. Timothy P. Kesicki, S.J., president of the Jesuit Conference of the United States and Canada, said “there is simply no excuse for the continued detention of mothers, children, toddlers and babies in any immigration detention facility in the United States.”

The Georgetown community is home to a diverse student body and their families — including individuals with a wide range of immigration statuses. Undocumented students, children of undocumented immigrants, and people fleeing violence and harm call Georgetown their home and have worked tirelessly to make it more inclusive for everyone. Just last month, Georgetown University announced the creation of undocumented.georgetown.edu, a centralized space for current and prospective undocumented students and their families to access resources they need.

The efforts of alumni, students, faculty, and community members to engage the social realities of poverty, oppression, and injustice were inspired by the Jesuit values of Cura Personalis and being men and women for others. Allowing Secretary Johnson to give the commencement address is a mockery to these values and, most importantly, alienates undocumented students and their families who will also be present at graduation.

Immigrant students and their families demand and deserve to feel safe and respected during their Commencement ceremony. It is unacceptable to force any graduating students to receive their diploma from an individual who who has the power to destroy their families. As alumni, we urge you to rescind Secretary Johnson’s Commencement invitation and take meaningful action to ensure immigrant students and their families feel safe and welcome in the School of Foreign Service and Georgetown University.

Signed,

Alumni of Georgetown

SIGN THE PETITION Stop Secretary Jeh Johnson from receiving an honorary degree from Georgetown University