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Panel to address immigration debate

Lindsay Sena | Monday, October 8, 2007

The national immigration debate will come to a localized head today as the topic of the University’s annual forum.

University President Father John Jenkins selected immigration as the forum’s topic last spring. Classes will be cancelled today from 3 to 5 p.m. for the event.

Ray Suarez, senior correspondent of The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, will moderate the Forum. The forum members are: Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.), who emigrated from Cuba at 15 and is the first Cuban-American to serve in the Senate; Cardinal Roger Mahony, the Archbishop of Los Angeles appointed by Pope John Paul II in 1985 who has been an advocate for the protection of immigrants; Arizona Gov. Janet A. Napolitano; and Louis Barletta, mayor of Hazleton, Penn., where the City Council passed the Illegal Immigration Relief Act, which makes it difficult for illegal immigrants to reside in Hazleton.

Timothy Matovina, Forum Committee chair and director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, emphasized that it was important for the panel recruitment committee to have representatives from several levels of government.

“At the national level we have a senator, at the state level, a governor; we have a mayor for the local level, and an archbishop to represent the religious aspect,” he said.

The panel will also represent a variety of geographic regions and political views.

The panel will discuss and address various questions pertinent to the immigration debate, including the economic, social, legal, religious and human rights issues. The goals of this forum, as stated by Matovina on the Forum’s Web site, are “to unite the student body in reflection of this topic, to engage students intellectually about the relevance and significance of this issue, to integrate the discussion with moral considerations and faith perspectives, and to make a contribution to current global discussions.”

“I anticipate very strong attendance,” Matovina said. “I’ve been doing some pre-forum sessions in residence halls and those have all been very well-attended and I’ve heard a lot of interest from students and faculty.”

In preparation for the Forum, students were offered a free online course. Articles have been posted on the Forum’s Web site each Monday for the past four weeks that covered the economics of immigration, Catholic social teaching on immigration and the current immigration debate in the United States. Notre Dame faculty members guided Internet conversations about the articles throughout the week.

A Notre Dame undergraduate student will facilitate a discussion on the site in response to the Forum.

For more information visit http://forum.nd.edu