Tzedakah Project for Vulnerable Immigrant Students at University of Chicago

Both Jewish values and Jewish history compel us to treat strangers in our midst with justice and compassion. The mitzvah of welcoming the stranger appears 36 times in the Torah — more than any other commandment: “When strangers sojourn with you in your land, you shall not do them wrong. The strangers who sojourn with you shall be to you as the natives among you, and you shall love them as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” [Leviticus 19:33-34].

Last spring, the Board of Directors at KAM Isaiah Israel, upon recommendation of the Social Justice Committee, unanimously adopted a position statement on undocumented immigrants. This resolution included an endorsement of efforts to support participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The DACA program, established by the Obama administration, protects young undocumented immigrants (those who entered the U.S. before age 16) from deportation and authorizes them to get work permits for renewable two-year periods. About 800,000 young people are DACA participants, and many of them are enrolled in or have graduated from institutions of higher education.

In September 2017, the Trump administration announced that the DACA program will be terminated on March 5, 2018. Current DACA participants will no longer be able to renew their status when it expires. Efforts in Congress to reach agreement on a legislative solution have stalled, and the future of DACA remains very much in doubt.

The SSA Fund for DACA Students

The School of Social Service Administration (SSA) at the University of Chicago has established a special fund to support students who are participating in the DACA program. This fund, which was started with seed money from SSA faculty, is used to ease the considerable financial burdens of DACA students and their families. These students cannot access federal or state financial aid, discounted federal loans, or federal work-study opportunities — all crucial forms of assistance that help make graduate school affordable. DACA students at SSA (currently about five) are powerful role models on campus and in their communities, and their skills are urgently needed in social work.

The annual cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses for SSA’s master’s program is about $70,000. DACA students currently receive financial aid averaging about $30,000. Additional support from the DACA fund allows students to concentrate more fully on their studies and field placements and to better prepare for what may lie ahead for immigrant communities.

Contribute online

Use this link to make an online gift. Be sure "School of Social Service Administration" is selected as the Area of Support. After entering your contact and payment information, type "SSA DACA Student Fund" and “KAM Isaiah Israel” in the Special Instructions Comments box. Then click Give Now to complete your gift. You will receive an e-mail confirmation.

Contribute by check

Make your check payable to The University of Chicago. In the memo line, write: “SSA DACA Student Fund” and “KAMII.” Mail check to:

The University of Chicago
School of Social Service Administration
969 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
Attention: SSA DACA Fund

All gifts are tax-deductible. Contributions from members of KAM Isaiah Israel will be matched dollar for dollar by SSA.

For more information, please email Larry Joseph, chair of the Social Justice Committee.