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Wake Forest University to recast immigration debate


September 4, 2007

Wake Forest University will address one of the United States’ most hotly debated issues—immigration—at a three-day conference Oct. 3-5.  Titled “Immigration: Recasting the Debate,” the conference is the first event in the university’s 2007-2008 Voices of Our Time speaker series. 

"Immigration reform is not only one of the most pressing domestic issues of our time; it is also one of the most intractable,” said David Coates, Worrell Professor of Anglo-American Studies at Wake Forest and co-organizer of the event. “It is hard to think of a political issue more in need of the quiet light of serious scholarship than this.”

Peter Siavelis, associate professor of political science and co-organizer, agreed.  "We want researchers to shed more light on this issue, but not do it through the partisan sniping that is increasingly passing for political dialogue in our country.”

The conference will feature keynote addresses by major public figures giving both Democratic and Republican perspectives, including Ray Marshall, a former member of both the Clinton and Carter administrations, and Republican Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida. 

The event will also include forums with leading immigration policy experts from organizations including the Cato Institute, the Economic Policy Institute, The Heritage Foundation and the World Policy Institute, and top-rated scholars from institutions such as Princeton University and the University of Southern California. 

According to José Isasi, chief executive officer of Que Pasa Media Network and one of the forum panelists, this conference is an opportunity to foster fact-based dialogue that can lead to viable solutions.  “I applaud Wake Forest for convening this conference.  On behalf of the Hispanic community, I want to be part of the solution-focused process.  I hope this event will provide an open, constructive exchange of facts, thoughts and ideas, so the general public can better understand all the issues,” Isasi said.  “I also hope it attracts the attention of our national, regional and local community leaders and lawmakers.  We sorely need to create a national focus on crafting policies that will yield reasoned solutions that are strategic and focused on creating a win-win situation for our shared communities.”

Wake Forest President Nathan O. Hatch agreed.  “It is our role, as a university, to be a place where balanced and thoughtful discussions take place in a civil manner,” Hatch said.  “We must be the place where leaders and those at the forefront of research and policy development can go for perspectives and comprehensive scholarship on the pressing issues of our day.”

The first day of the conference will include a film screening of the award-winning documentary “Crossing Arizona” followed by a keynote address from a Democratic perspective by Ray Marshall.   

The remainder of the conference will feature six forums on various aspects of immigration from migration effects on social, political and economic life to policy choices and their consequences; another screening of “Crossing Arizona” with a question-and-answer session with director Dan Devivo; and a keynote address from a Republican perspective by Martinez.  

Throughout the conference, public question-and-answer sessions will also be offered.

The conference is free and open to the public.  Seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis. 

For complete event information, including a conference schedule and biographical information on the participants, visit www.wfu.edu/voices

Voices of Our Time is an annual guest speaker series that exposes students, the Wake Forest community and the general public to some of the world’s leading thinkers for discussions on the important national and international issues of our time.  It was established in 2006 by Wake Forest President Nathan O. Hatch.

Other Voices of Our Time events scheduled this fall include:

“50 Years in the News” with Bob Schieffer, 7 p.m. Oct. 25, Wait Chapel.

Broadcast journalism’s most experienced Washington reporter and anchor and moderator of “Face the Nation,” CBS News’ Sunday public affairs broadcast.

For more details about future Voices of Our Time events, visit www.wfu.edu/voices. 


Note: Media are invited to attend.  A limited number of reserved seats will be available for media.  Seats must be reserved in advance.  Recording will be permitted for most sessions.  A limited number of audio and video feeds for news coverage will be available.  Flash photography will not be permitted.  More specific details about media arrangements will be issued in the upcoming weeks.  To arrange coverage or reserve media seating, contact Pam Barrett at barretpm@wfu.edu or Audrey Fannin at fannin@wfu.edu or call (336) 758-5237.

Press Contacts:

Pam Barrett
(336) 758-5237


Kevin Cox
(336) 758-5237


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