St. Mary’s University is committed to upholding the values of our Catholic identity and Marianist charism. Leading among these values is the embrace of unity in diversity, the importance of family, and care for those who are vulnerable. One of the many manifestations of living these values lies in the University’s care for and support of our undocumented students.

Students who are undocumented are called DREAMers, many of whom who have lived in the United States most of their lives. Some DREAMers currently have temporary relief through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), an executive order put in place by President Obama in June 2012, which allows them to apply for a social security number and provides employment authorization, granting two-year renewable stays of action. It does not provide permanent residency or a path to citizenship.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Sept. 5, 2017, that DACA is being rescinded; this leaves Congress with the challenge of finding a solution to the more than 800,000 DACA recipients in the United States whose temporary relief will be compromised.

In the document issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, in response to the announcement on Tuesday, we read:

“The Catholic Church has long watched with pride and admiration as DACA youth live out their daily lives with hope and a determination to flourish and contribute to society: continuing to work and provide for their families, continuing to serve in the military, and continuing to receive an education. Now, after months of anxiety and fear about their futures, these brave young people face deportation. This decision is unacceptable and does not reflect who we are as Americans.

As people of faith, we say to DACA youth – regardless of your immigration status, you are children of God and welcome in the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church supports you and will advocate for you.”

You can read the full text of the Bishops’ statement on the USCCB website.

At St. Mary’s, we recognize that our DREAMers are indeed contributing greatly to our community: every student voice matters and every student adds to the diverse community that we are on this campus and in this city. As such, we have an obligation to work for and with all our students, regardless of immigration status, so that they may maximize opportunities while in school and have the chance to use their Catholic, Marianist education to grow into leaders for the Common Good wherever they may go after graduation.

Below are resources for students who are undocumented and the families that support them. For questions about how to get involved on issues of immigrant justice — as the faithful, engaged citizens that our Catholic faith calls us to be — please contact Tim Bessler, Ed.D., Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students at, 210-431-4396.

On-Campus Resources for Students

For any student who is undocumented and is looking for on-campus resources to connect to, please contact Tim Bessler, Ed.D., Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students at, 210-431-4396.

For students who are undocumented and have questions about financial aid and scholarships, please contact Marivel T. Ojeda, Director of Financial Aid, at or 210-436-3141.

Dean of Students

Tim Bessler, Ed.D., Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students at, 210-431-4396.

Office of Community Engagement

Opportunities for students, faculty and staff to be engaged in issues of local, national and global justice, through educational programming and advocacy. Campus community members who are looking for ways to be allies should contact Amir Samandi, Director of Community Engagement, at, 210-436-3436.

University Ministry

University Ministry offers pastoral care and spiritual support to students. For more information and contact numbers and location, visit

Student Counseling Services

Trained counselors are available to meet and talk with students in a confidential setting about their concerns and individual/family situations. There is always a counselor on duty available outside of normal business hours.

For more information on services and contact information, visit

Office of Student Retention

Dedicated to ensuring student success and degree completion, the Office of Student Retention meets with students on an individual basis, as well as in cohorts as developed by various programming and initiatives, to ensure the success of each student and to improve the student experience.

For more information or to meet with a staff member in the Office of Retention, visit

Faculty and Staff Resources

At St. Mary’s University, we strive to ensure our charism is honored through hiring for mission and encouraging a vibrant family spirit on campus. This includes creating an atmosphere where each person’s gifts and talents come alive and helping each other in areas of growth and challenge. If you are a faculty or staff member and feel unequipped to support a student who discloses their immigration status to you, please contact the Office of the Vice President and Dean of Students so that both you and the student can be supported in the situation at hand.

Community Resources for DREAMers

Each link below will redirect you to that organization’s website.

Find your Representative in Congress — Identify who represents your district and plan to call regularly to have your voice heard.

Center for Legal and Social Justice at St. Mary’s University School of Law — The Pro Bono Program at the Center for Legal and Social Justice works to respond to the legal needs of the San Antonio community through various clinics housed in the Center.

RAICES (Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services) — RAICES is a non-profit agency that promotes justice by providing free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families, and refugees in Central and South Texas.

MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) — Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the “law firm of the Latino community,” MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access.

HACU (Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities): As the “champions of Hispanic success in higher education,” HACU offers a variety of programs, initiatives, scholarships and development opportunities to students, staff and faculty in higher education at their member institutions. St. Mary’s University is a member of this association and campus community members are encouraged to review the HACU website for helpful resources.

Additional Resources

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