'We're Not an Immigration Service': Catholic Universities in Philadelphia Region Sign Letter Defending Undocumented Immigrant Students' Rights | NBC 10 Philadelphia

'We're Not an Immigration Service': Catholic Universities in Philadelphia Region Sign Letter Defending Undocumented Immigrant Students' Rights

Presidents at the local schools signed a statement that pressed for the federal government to continue allowing undocumented students access to higher education.

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    File - The National Immigrant Youth Alliance marches past the Hart Senate Office Building in Arizona on Tuesday, June 26, 2012.

    Four universities in the Philadelphia region were among more than 100 Catholic institutions of higher learning across the country to sign a letter this week in support of undocumented immigrant students.

    The presidents of Villanova, La Salle, Saint Joseph's University and Holy Family signed the letter to "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."

    DACA refers to a 2012 federal policy called Deferred Action for Children Arrivals.

    Officials with the universities, when reached Friday, stopped short of saying their campuses could become sanctuaries from federal authorities if President-elect Donald Trump's administration cracks down on undocumented immigrants.

    A spokesman for Saint Joe's, Joe Lunardi, did say the school would follow the lead of local authorities, which for most of the campus means the self-described Sanctuary City of Philadelphia.

    About one or two dozen undocumented students attend Saint Joe's, Lunardi said.

    "We're not an immigration service. That puts not just college and universities, but a lot of sectors, are in a gray area," he said. "Who knows what exemptions might be involved. International students have always been treated differently by the INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service)."

    He said any changes in policy regarding DACA students would also likely play out over months and could be "evolving" well into the new administration.