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Undocumented Student Resources

Butterfly graphicLoyola University Maryland, a Jesuit, Catholic Institution, is committed to valuing the dignity of every member of the University community. Loyola welcomes and supports students of all ethnicities and nationalities regardless of immigration status. In collaboration with several members across the campus community, our Office of International Student Services (OISS), Counseling Center, Campus Ministry, ALANA Student Services, and Center for Community, Service, and Justice (CCSJ) are committed to strengthening support services on campus for all students enrolled or seeking admission to Loyola. The University proudly stands in solidarity with undocumented students and welcomes you to explore the services, opportunities, and resources available to you. Loyola is steeped in 165 years of academic excellence, tradition and a commitment to the liberal arts education that prepares all students to explore and discover fundamental truths about the world and their place in it. 

Loyola University Maryland embraces a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.   The letter to the campus community from University President Rev. Brian Linnane, S.J. on January 30, 2017 reminds us that “diversity in the Loyola community includes individuals and their families who are refugees, immigrants, or not U.S. citizens. As a global university, we are grateful to and enriched by the international students who choose to call the United States home while pursuing a Loyola education."  We value the intellectual, social and communal contributions of each member in the Loyola community. (View the signed statement of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities here and The AJCU Statement on DACA Rescission here)

Watch an educational video and hear others' stories

Disclaimer: The sections on this page contain general information to foster a community of respect and support. The information does not constitute legal advice. If you or anyone else has further questions, please feel free to reach out to a committee member for additional and updated information.

Connection to Mission

As a Jesuit, Catholic university we uphold the inherent human dignity of all persons, regardless of their immigration status.  We recognize that our undocumented, immigrant and international students experience challenges beyond those of our traditional students. Loyola is concerned with the education of the whole person and is dedicated to accompanying, supporting, and caring for each member of our community.

Statement of the AJCU Presidents on Undocumented Students (November 30, 2016)

Supporting Undocumented Students in Jesuit Higher Education

How Administrators, Faculty and Students Can Foster a Climate of Inclusiveness

A new political landscape in the U.S. has brought with it unique realities for people without documentation, including students at Jesuit colleges and universities. How are faculty and administrators responding to the changing reality facing these students?


It is important to understand student expectations: all students want to be respected, valued, included, and welcomed. They also expect that staff members across the university are trained to encourage and uphold equity and inclusion. 

Student affairs professionals and other administrators can have an impact on the college community by modeling openness and developing inclusive campus programming.  For example, staff can lead diversity trainings to increase cultural competencies for student groups upon request; encourage students to initiate conversations about diversity within their organizations; serve as formal and informal advisors to student organizations; provide funding for intergroup partnerships; and recognize inclusive practices through student award ceremonies.


Since classrooms are at the heart of student learning, faculty members are key to promoting inclusion on campus. It is important for faculty to revise curricula, teach in more inclusive ways, and examine their own personal biases. In order to be successful, faculty members have to hold each other accountable for these efforts.

The Bok Center for Teaching and Learning at Harvard University created guidelines for educators teaching in diverse classrooms. These are some of the practices they suggest: incorporating materials that represent a variety of cultures; assigning work from scholars of underrepresented backgrounds; learning how to pronounce student names correctly; and pointing out and discussing culturally insensitive materials that are included in textbooks or learning materials.


Students have significant influence among their peers and can shape the culture of inclusiveness through their social and academic engagements.  By having conversations with one another and trying to understand other people's experiences and perspectives, students can deepen their knowledge of other cultural identities, build bridges across campus, and learn to engage in discussions about often charged topics. Other options include participating in events hosted by groups of different backgrounds (when appropriate) or encouraging collaboration between cultural clubs.

When all college and university constituents — leadership, faculty, and students — come together to foster inclusivity, the result is powerful. Each of us as individuals has to be willing to push back and stand up for those who don’t have a voice, and with that standing up comes the risk of being dismissed. The question is: “Are you willing to take a risk in order to create a more inclusive campus environment?”

What if we all said yes?

Parts of this text are adapted with permission of Dr. Marybeth Gasman, Professor of Higher Education, University of Pennsylvania, Director, Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions

The Do's and Don'ts of Support & Advocacy


  • Educate yourself about the legal, social, and mental health risks undocumented students and their families face, as well as the unique challenges of the immigrant experience in the U.S.
  • Know the facts about undocumented students, their struggles and resilience
  • Identify yourself as an ally and remember that allyship is a responsibility, not a title.
  • Connect with other allies, both on and off campus, to help raise awareness for all undocumented people.
  • Help to establish safe spaces--which can include classrooms, residence halls, dining halls, and even social media--where undocumented students can learn and engage without fear and intimidation.
  • Be aware of your own assumptions regarding immigrants and how they may impact your interactions with these members of our community.
  • If you are an American citizen, be mindful of the privilege that this status holds and recognize that the opportunities afforded to you are not necessarily available to everyone.


  • Don’t assume that all immigrants are undocumented.
  • Don’t say “illegal” or “illegal aliens.” Rather, say “undocumented,” “unauthorized,” or “people without documents.”
  • Don’t ask undocumented students to self-identify and don’t out people who are undocumented.
  • Don’t ask immigrant or undocumented students to share their lived experience within the classroom or social setting.
  • Don’t provide legal advice to undocumented students if you have any uncertainties about the information you are providing. Refer students to individuals and/or organizations with expertise in this area, such as Sunanda Bhatia, the Director of International Student Services (410-617-5245).
  • Don’t reveal an individual’s status or answer any questions in the case of an on campus search by a federal agency. Simply contact campus police (410-617-5911) as they are trained to respond in such situations.
Mental Health Impact

Whether you or someone that you care deeply for is undocumented, we want you to know that Loyola supports you. This page outlines the mental health impact that documentation status can have on individuals, both their challenges and triumphs.   

Strength and Resilience 

Despite the numerous obstacles that undocumented students face, many of them also exhibit profound resilience and perseverance in their academic and personal lives. Experts define resilience as the process of triumphing over the negative effects of certain risk factors. For undocumented students, those risk factors could include:

  • Elevated feelings of societal and institutional rejection
  • Low parental education
  • High employment hours during school (Perez, Espinoza, Ramos, Coronado, and Cortes)

Resilience is often dependent on the subsistence of protective factors in students’ lives that help them to draw on their own strength and determination. These protections, which can be both personal and environmental, include:

  • Student’s belief in her own potential and academic abilities
  • Supportive parents, families, and friends
  • Encouragement from faculty and staff
  • Involvement in extracurricular activities and community service (Perez, Espinoza, Ramos, Coronado, and Cortes)

Undocumented students who have these protections are more likely to become high academic achievers. Creating a supportive, inclusive, and informed environment at Loyola is thus essential to helping our undocumented students draw on their own strength and resilience in the face of adversity. 

Immigration Related Stress

If you are an undocumented/unauthorized student, you are not alone. Approximately 200,000–225,000 undocumented individuals are enrolled in higher education in the U.S., representing about 2% of all college students (Suárez-Orozco et al., 2015). Difficulties that undocumented students face could include:

  • Financial distress
  • Discrimination
  • Having a family that is mixed-status

Many undocumented students experience financial distress when applying for or attending a college or university and their status may limit their access to information and resources regarding financial aid. This financial distress may also affect their academic success if a student has to hold multiple jobs to pay for tuition or even to contribute to the family income. Many undocumented students do not feel comfortable discussing financial matters with university administrators or faculty (Collier & Morgan, 2008).

Discrimination contributes to undocumented students’ reticence. An estimated 67% of undocumented students experienced discrimination in 2015.

In addition to financial distress and discrimination, undocumented students might face the difficulty of having a mixed-status family. A mixed-status family is a family with some members who are undocumented and others who are documented. This phenomenon can increase a student’s anxiety because of the aggressive deportation tactics that have been in place since 9/11 (Kanstroom, 2007). Deportation tears families apart, and a student’s fear of this possibility can lead to stress, anxiety, and even depression (Contreras, 2009; Garcia & Tierney, 2011; Perez, 2009; Perry, 2006).

Denice Frohman, “Borders” video


Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental health conditions on college campuses across the U.S. (ADAA). Students who are undocumented or have undocumented family members or close friends may be at a higher risk for developing an anxiety disorder. Studies have shown that the number of undocumented students who have reported experiencing levels of anxiety above the clinical cutoff is significantly higher than that of the general population (Zenin Jaimes Pérez). Students concerned about their own or loved ones’ status may develop high levels of anxiety in response to fears of whom to trust, and feelings of uncertainty, despair, marginalization, and even shame (Pérez, Cortés, Ramos, Coronado).

General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by excessive anxiety or worry that interferes with work, school, and/or social activities. Symptoms of GAD include:

  • Restlessness or feeling on edge
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension and aches
  • Sleep disturbance (trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or restless sleep) (ADAA)

Undocumented students or especially those with mixed-status families may also experience Separation Anxiety Disorder (SAD). Living with the constant fear that a loved one may be deported and blocked from legal reentry can lead to excessive distress when away from home. SAD is characterized by a constant focus and worry placed on another person or persons. Symptoms of SAD include:

  • The desire to constantly check on the whereabouts of loved ones
  • Being overly protective of loved ones
  • The experience of physical pain in the event of separation

Finally, undocumented students who have experienced a forced separation from loved ones or other distressing situations related to their migration or status may suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is diagnosed if an individual experiences symptoms at least one month after a traumatic event, or even several months or years later. Symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Re-experiencing the traumatic event through distressing recollections, flashbacks, and nightmares
  • Emotional numbness
  • Avoidance of places, people, and activities that are reminders of the traumatic event
  • Difficulty sleeping, concentrating, and irritability (ADAA)

Seeking professional help can be difficult for undocumented students or students with undocumented loved ones. Yet it is also difficult to cope with anxiety disorders alone. The first and most important step to managing anxiety is to identify communities of support and trust. Those communities can be as small as your parents or family, or it can include peer groups, faculty, student affairs professionals, and the Counseling Center. 


While many people suffer from depression, there are specific experiences shared by undocumented students that may contribute to or exacerbate depressive symptoms. For instance, they may develop feelings of social isolation because of their need to keep secrets about their own or loved ones’ documentation status. This sense of isolation can be compounded by feelings of disconnection from one’s native culture or even family members who were left behind.

In addition to experiencing social isolation, undocumented students may also feel voiceless and invisible in the U.S. because of their status, which can lead to a profound sense of hopelessness.

Some students do not learn about their documentation status until they are entering college. This discovery can lead to potential disappointment and despair regarding their future plans. Finally, many undocumented students also experience feelings of shame and decreased self-worth because of their status.

In sum, symptoms of depression that might be most poignant for undocumented students include:

  • Social isolation
  • A sense of loss regarding one’s native culture and family members who were left behind
  • Voicelessness and invisibility
  • Emotional avoidance and displacing negative feelings and experiences onto others
  • Feeling that one’s hopes for the future have been shattered (Ellis and Chen, 2013)

Do keep in mind that these feelings often worsen the longer they are kept inside.  If you or a loved one are experiencing feelings of depression, it is important to talk to someone that you can trust.

Impact on Relationships 

The immigration process, both legal and undocumented, often requires temporary separation from family members. Whether parents travel prior to sending for their children or siblings are separated in the process, the “piecemeal migration” of families has been a long-standing aspect of the immigration experience. This separation can impact the closeness of relationships between family members in both positive and negative ways.

Many undocumented students are part of “mixed-status” families; that is, families that are made up of some individuals who are American citizens or have legal documentation and some who do not. All members of mixed-status families, regardless of their own citizenship status, are impacted by the challenges of being undocumented in the United States. Fear and risk of deportation make it difficult to trust people outside of the familial network. The fear of deportation of undocumented parents of citizen children also restricts access to healthcare and leads to increased experiences of anxiety disorders for their children such as separation anxiety  (Zayas, Aguilar-Gaxiola, Yoon, & Rey, 2015). Moreover, researchers have found that citizen children who have experienced a parent’s detention have elevated distress and are more likely to display symptoms of depression, anxiety, behavioral challenges and ADHD (Zayas, Aguilar-Gaxiola, Yoon, & Rey, 2015).

Members of a family may also vary in language fluency. Many children of immigrants become more fluent in the English language than their parents, which may lead those parents to depend on their children when communicating with schools and workplaces and when filling out legal documents. Being aware of their parents’ financial, legal, or medical difficulties can be distressing for young people.

Finally, navigating college applications, financial aid documents, and the academic world may require more self-dependence and reliance for the children of immigrant parents who are unfamiliar with these systems. 

Social and Romantic Relationships 

Navigating social and romantic relationships as an undocumented individual or a member of a mixed status family has some unique qualities. Fear of deportation and other legal repercussions may lead one to keep secrets from friends and/or significant others in order to protect oneself or someone else. Knowing who or when to trust people can create stress in a relationship and lead to a generalized difficulty trusting others. However, distrust of individuals and systems is helpful and adaptive in many situations as laws for mandated reporters can fluctuate with political administrations. 
Researchers have also studied the impact documentation status has on the victimization (i.e. physical violence, sexual assault, witnessed violence, threats of violence or stalking) of female immigrants in romantic relationships. For instance, abusers are known to use undocumented status “as a tool of domination and control.” While reports of interpersonal victimization between Latinas with permanent status  and undocumented Latinas did not differ significantly (20% and 15.4%, respectively),  rates of help-seeking behaviors did as undocumented Latinas “tended to reach out to formal help-seeking services overall less often than Latinas with permanent status” (Zadnik, Savina & Cuevas, 2016).
On and Off Campus Resources

Loyola’s Committee for Undocumented People Impacted by Immigration

These individuals are part of UNIDA, the United Network for Immigrants, DREAMers, and Allies.

* indicates that this individual is a confidential resource on campus 

UNIDA Members
Member Department Email Phone Number
Sunanda Bhatia* OISS 410-617-5245
Sean Bray* Campus Ministry 410-617-2838
Patrick Cassidy CCSJ 410-617-2112
Jason Parcover* Counseling Center   410-617-2273
Raven Williams ALANA 410-617-5424

Resources in the Baltimore community include, but are not limited to:

  • The Esperanza Center, 430 S. Broadway, Baltimore MD 21231. The Esperanza Center is a comprehensive immigrant resource center that offers hope and essential services to people who are new to the U.S. Their dedicated staff and volunteers provide services and referrals, ESL education, healthcare, and low-cost immigration legal services. Please note: The Esperanza Center's services will be temporarily relocated at St. Patrick’s Assisi House, 1728 Bank St. Please call 667-600-2900 for additional information.
  • CASA de Maryland, 2224 East Fayette Street, Baltimore MD 21231. CASA de Maryland seeks to create a more just society by improving the quality of life in low-income immigrant communities.
  • Immigration Outreach Service Center, 5401 Loch Raven Blvd., Baltimore MD 21239. The Immigration Outreach Service Center at St. Matthew Catholic Church is for immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers, regardless of status or ethnicity. The Center was established in response to the immigration needs of many of its parishioners. Today, the center is an independent non-profit organization that has served over 4000 people.
  • Creative Alliance
  • Friends of Patterson Park

Helpful Online Resources

Resources at Loyola University Maryland include, but are not limited to:

Additional Loyola Faculty and Administrator Sources of Support

Loyola Support People
Faculty Department Email
Natka Bianchini Fine Arts
David Carey History
Marianna Carlucci Psychology
Jean Lee Cole English
Joseph Farrell Philosophy
Thomas Ward Spanish

Past Events

February 26th Event: Join CASA de Maryland in an opportunity to visit the State Capitol and meet with your Representatives to share the priorities of immigrant communities!

Noche de los Inmigrantes flyer

UNIDA Advocacy Event: On October 12th, 2017, Loyola University Maryland community members, such as students, faculty and administrators, stopped by an educational and interactive table on campus. There, individuals were able to read and hear about the recent rescission of DACA and related issues. Visitors to the table had the opportunity to take photographs, as shown below,  to express their interest and support for those without documents. Members from CASA de Maryland joined us at the table to provide more information about the topic and upcoming events. 

Fr. Roach Group photo Josh Smith Malik Manny Mari and Raven Megan and Pat Monica and Lemuel Naomi Friends Sean Bray Sunanda and Andre Tabling Students Beth 

February 12th Event: On Monday, February 12th, there will be a screening in Loyola's Library Auditorium from 6:00-9:00 PM. Please see the flyer below for more information. 

Screening poster 

February 1st Event: On Thursday, February 1st, students from across the Jesuit network of colleges and universities will be reaching out to their members of Congress, both Representatives and Senators, to urge their support for the DREAM Act and/or to thank them for their support of the DREAM Act.  As you may know, since the Fall, the status of those who are part of the DACA program has been in limbo pending congressional action.  While DACA is being discussed between the White House and Congress, more advocacy for those eligible for DACA and undocumented students is needed at this time as the deadline for them to act on a more permanent resolution is quickly approaching.  The deadline of March 5, 2018 remains as the date when protection for Dreamers would end.  The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) in partnership with Jesuit colleges and universities across the country will take part in a phone campaign to urge our students to call-in on February 1st.  Individuals may contact your members of Congress and urge them to save DACA and the DREAM Act.

If you choose to participate in this action, please use these talking points.  Each call should only take about 5 minutes.  Additionally, this is a list of the members of the U.S. House of Representatives (House Call Sheet) and U.S. Senate (Senate Call Sheet) so that you can see if your members can either be urged and/or thanked for their support of the DREAM Act.

If you do make any calls today, please use this link to let us know which offices you were able to contact:

If you are interested in learning more about the 2017 DREAM Act, you can access the text of the current bill here:

Also, if you are interested in issues around immigration and would like to find other ways to get involved please email  UNIDA (United Network for Immigrants, DREAMers and Allies) at:

Know Your Rights Training: As undocumented individuals and allies are increasingly concerned for their futures, it is important that everyone knows their own rights. Our committee would like to hold a training to inform individuals about what their rights are if they, or loved ones, are approached regarding their citizenship status. More details to follow as date, time and location are to be determined.

UNIDA December Event: On Wednesday, December 6 (from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.), there will be a table on Loyola's quad for community members to visit. The table will feature post cards to sign and buttons to hand out to individuals interested in and supporting DACA and DREAMers. This table event will take place in order to demonstrate individuals' solidarity with those rallying in Washington D.C. on the same day. Stop by the table to show your support for those without documents!

Contact Us

+1 410-617-5245
Office: Humanities 141

Office of International Student Services Hours:
Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. EST