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‘Beyond the Border’ series concludes with focus on action

| Thursday, October 14, 2021

While the first two installments of ThinkND’s “Beyond the Border” series focused on why people migrate, the series concluded Wednesday with a third and final panel session that highlighted what steps citizens and organizations can take to make immigration safer. 

“In this, our final event of the series, we will explore what the United States, businesses, the church and each of us as global citizens can do to create safe, dignified paths for migration,” Moderator and senior researcher at the Notre Dame Pulte Institute for Global Development Tom Hare said. 

At the beginning of the discussion, Hare reinforced the notion that the purpose of the sessions was not to push one specific viewpoint but to have an open discussion and promote dialogue. 

Gracie Eppler | The Observer
Panelists speak over Zoom in the final session of the “Beyond the Border” series. Speakers discussed both private and public sector involvement in immigration reform.

The primary focus of the final session was action. Hare said there is a need for action regarding migration reform at every level, especially through the government. Michael Camilleri, a Notre Dame graduate who serves as senior advisor to the administrator and executive director of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Northern Triangle Task Force, discussed government strategy when approaching immigration reform. 

“The Biden administration is absolutely committed to building a safe, orderly and humane immigration system,” Camilleri said. “But they also understand that to really get at this challenge we need to be focused on the root causes — the reasons why we’re seeing thousands of people fleeing their countries.”

Camilleri noted that the majority of these migrants do not want to abandon their countries and families, but that undesirable situations in their homes have made staying unsafe. Economic desperation, natural disasters and government oppression are all reasons why migrants flee their homelands in hopes of a better life in the United States, Camilleri said. 

“These situations have really shaped the president’s commitment to invest $4 billion over four years in Central America focused on the Northern Triangle countries in order to help generate sustainable living conditions for people in the region,” Camilleri said. “Under this strategy we’re working to promote inclusive economic growth, to strengthen democratic governance and combat corruption, to defend human rights, to improve citizen security and to combat gender based violence.”

Camilleri also noted the importance of sustaining this policy over time. 

While Camilleri discussed laws, policies and government administrations, Associate professor of theology and global affairs and vice president and associate provost for undergraduate affairs Fr. Daniel Groody examined migration issues from a theological perspective. 

Groody mentioned the different ways in which the Catholic Church is responding to immigration through direct aid, advocacy and education. He said the most important way through which the Church is involved with migration is how it can help change the perspective in which people view migrants. 

“What’s really at stake is coming up with a new narrative about migration and really challenging these ideas of citizen, alien, native, foreigner, legal, illegal, all of which break down at some point when we look at them through the lens of human dignity,” Groody said. 

Groody said the Church plays a vital role in helping reshape the narrative surrounding migrants as the second largest resettler of migrants in the world. He also acknowledged that the Church has a long way to go to help improve immigration reform and a lot of more work to do.

The final panelist, chairman and CEO of the Daboub Partnership Juan José Daboub, discussed the role of businesses in helping immigrants. Daboub argued that businesses also have a responsibility to help solve the issues plaguing migrants.

“What has been missing is the more proactive role of the private sector,” Daboub said. “No government is in the capacity to fix all of the problems. It has to come from within the countries as well.” 

Daboub stressed the importance of providing jobs for immigrants, especially for those supporting families. Daboub said jobs are a “tourniquet” to the “hemorrhage” that is immigrant instability. 

To end the session, Groody reflected on the role of Catholics in helping migrants. 

“When we realize that God came as a migrant to our world in order to help us migrate back to our homeland, we realize that it’s not about us and them, it’s about all of us,” Groody said. “The long journey of human life is really about moving from otherness to oneness, or from alienation to communion.”

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