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Christian Colleges: A Home for Dreamers

By Shirley V. Hoogstra

It’s the start of a new academic year on Christian college and university campuses across the country, which means that hundreds of thousands of students—new and returning alike—will be coming to campus as part of their pursuit of a life-changing, world-class education. All of these students face the typical pressures of college life, such as managing homework loads, finding work to help cover some of the expenses, navigating new relationships in a new place, and wrestling with the weight of what they want to do and who they want to be.

But many of our students face an extra set of pressures. Like their peers, undocumented students have dreams of earning their degrees, building long-lasting friendships, and getting ready for the next stage in life. They hope that what they accomplish on our campuses will grant them the opportunity not only to succeed in their chosen careers but also to give back and contribute to their communities and to the country they call home. But they face extra hurdles, especially financially, because of the fact that they—usually through no decision of their own —are in the United States outside the established system.

Christian college and university leaders are stepping up to the task of doing what it takes to help these students succeed. After the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was rescinded, numerous CCCU institutions stepped up to help their DACA students navigate the aftermath. Many of our institutions offer counseling, tutoring, mentorship, and financial aid for their undocumented students. Presidents of CCCU institutions have highlighted their undocumented students’ contributions to campuses and joined other university presidents in calling for a solution.

As an organization, the CCCU has continuously advocated for reasonable, bipartisan approaches to immigration reform (such as the DREAM Act, which the CCCU has supported since its original introduction in 2001, and the BRIDGE Act) in order to secure protections for our undocumented students. We will continue to do so until such reform comes to pass. Christian higher education is committed to advancing faith and intellect for the common good because it benefits not just the students but their communities as well. We know our undocumented students have great things to offer, and we will continue to support them and prepare them for the work they have been called to do.

Shirley V. Hoogstra is the president of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities and a speaker at Leading the Way: An American Approach to Immigration.

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