Notre Dame Forum to examine immigration

Author: Arts and Letters


U.S. Sen. Melquiades Rafael “Mel” Martinez, R-Fla., Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, Gov. Janet Napolitano of Arizona, and Mayor Louis J. Barletta of Hazleton, Pa., will be the featured panelists participating Oct. 8 (Monday) in the third annual Notre Dame Forum.

Titled “Immigration: A Notre Dame Forum,” the event will take place from 3 to 5p.m. in the University’s Joyce Center arena and poses the question: Twelve million undocumented workers reside in the United States. Should the government ignore, help or deport them, or offer them a pathway to citizenship?

The forum will be moderated by Ray Suarez, senior correspondent for The Newshour with Jim Lehrer. Classes will be canceled during the forum to give students and faculty the opportunity to attend. A live Web cast will be available at

“Father Sorin, a Holy Cross priest and himself a French immigrant, founded Notre Dame as a place where young immigrant Catholics could receive an education,” said Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president. “Like Notre Dame, Catholicism in the United States has been and still is largely composed of immigrants and their descendants. It is entirely fitting that the Notre Dame Forum address the issue of immigration and enhance the current national debate with informed conversation and scholarship developed within the context of Catholic teaching on immigration.”

The distinguished and provocative panelists will discuss efforts to approach the complex challenge of immigration in a multi-faceted way.

Martinez emigrated from Cuba at age 15 and is the first Cuban-American to serve in the U.S. Senate. He has served as the chairman (mayor) of Orange County, Fla., and as the nation’s secretary of housing and urban development. He co-authored the Hagel-Martinez compromise in response to the immigration issues being debated in the Senate. The legislation was passed earlier this year.

Leader of the largest diocese in the U.S., Cardinal Mahony is an advocate for the protection of immigrants. He was appointed archbishop of Los Angeles by Pope John Paul II in 1985 and was elevated to cardinal in 1991. He was appointed auxiliary to the bishop of Fresno, Calif., in 1975 and bishop of Stockton, Calif., in 1980.

Napolitano, who wrestles daily with the moral, social and political dilemmas of immigration on the Arizona-Mexico border, originally was elected in 2002 and re-elected in 2006. She is Arizona’s third female governor and the first woman to win re-election. In November 2005, Time magazine named her one of the five best governors in the U.S.

Recently named chair of the National Governors Association by her peers (Republicans and Democrats), Napolitano is the former chair of the Western Governors Association and also of the National Governors Association the first woman governor and first governor of Arizona ever to serve in that position.

Barletta, a Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives and current mayor of Hazleton, Pa., introduced a controversial municipal ordinance aimed at discouraging undocumented immigrants from settling in his city. Under his direction, the Hazleton City Council passed the Illegal Immigration Relief Act, which imposes harsh fines on landlords renting to undocumented immigrants, revokes the business licenses of employers who hire these immigrants, declares English to be the official language of Hazleton, and restricts translation of official documents into other languages.

In preparation for the forum, a free, on-line “course” intended to create a sustained dialogue about the various facets of immigration, is available on the forum Web site ( ). Selected articles are available on the economics of immigration, Catholic social teaching on immigration, and the current immigration debate in the U.S. Links also provide a reading list, volunteer and service opportunities, and a space to share personal stories.

“A number of students and faculty have participated in the preparation for the forum and expressed their strong approval of the decision to make immigration this year’s topic,” said forum chair Timothy Matovina, professor of theology and director of Notre Dame’s Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism. “Our Notre Dame family has much to learn and much to offer the national debate on this vital issue.”

The Notre Dame Forum was established in 2005 by Father Jenkins to annually assemble world leaders on campus in discussion of the leading issues of the day. The forum seeks to engage all campus constituents in these important conversations to better formulate solutions and effect positive change. Last year’s forum addressed the global health crisis. The 2005 event focused on the role of religious faith in a plural world.

Contact: Timothy Matovina, 574-631-5441,

Originally published by Shannon Chapla at on September 28, 2007.