USCCB News Release
May 27, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Cardinal Mahony, Rwandan Genocide Survivor, Government Officials, To Speak At National Migration Conference
WASHINGTON—Cardinal Roger Mahony, Archbishop of Los Angeles; Edwidge Danticat, Haitian immigrant and author; U.S. Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ), a long-time advocate for global human rights and assistance to victims of human trafficking; Immaculee Ilibagiza, Rwandan genocide survivor and author; Marcelo Suarez-Orozco, renowned migration expert and university professor on globalization; and representatives of the U.S Departments of State, Health and Human Services and Homeland Security are all part of this year's program of the National Migration Conference.
With the theme Renewing Hope, Seeking Justice, the conference is sponsored by the Migration and Refugee Services department of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (MRS/USCCB) and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), and will take place July 28-31 in Washington.
As the keynote speaker, Cardinal Mahony will assess the role and importance of church involvement in the national immigration debate. He will draw upon the Holy Father's new encyclical, Spe Salvi (Saved By Hope) and the theme of the conference, which looks at the Church's mission to "welcome the stranger."
At the same opening plenary session, Marcelo Suarez-Orozco, Ph.D., professor of Globalization and Education at the Steinhardt School of Education of New York University, will speak on global migration to bring a broader focus to the immigration debate and an examination of the factors that compel the movement of persons within and across borders.
The next morning, a panel of U.S. Government officials will outline efforts to restore the U.S. refugee admissions program to pre-2001 levels, and note recent efforts targeted at Iraqis and others. Sam Witten, Acting Assistant Secretary of State, U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration; David Seigel, Acting Director, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Refugee Resettlement; and Lori Sciallaba, Associate Director for International Operations and Special Representative on Iraqi Refugees, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, are scheduled to participate on this panel. Conference participants will have the opportunity to question each official about the status of the program and make suggestions for improvement.
Edwidge Danticat will recount her immigrant story as a child coming to the United States and how that experience has influenced her life journey since then. She will also tell the story of her uncle who was caught up in the U.S detention system with life and death consequences.
Representative Chris Smith (R-4th, NJ) will give a Capitol Hill perspective on migration issues being considered by Congress, including human trafficking, refugee protection and immigration reform, and will offer suggestions for how the Catholic community can influence Congress to enact positive legislation.
Immaculee Ilibagiza will speak from her experience of having endured and survived great suffering and loss as a result of the Rwandan genocide of the early 1990's. Despite this hellish experience, hers is a story of incredible faith, forgiveness, and redemption.
Mauricio Farah Gebara, who currently serves as Inspector General of the National Commission of Human Rights of Mexico, will speak about the numerous cases of violation of human rights he handles and talk about international migration and human rights.
The National Migration Conference will also include Capitol Hill visits, a celebration of CLINIC's 20th anniversary and the MRS and CLINIC Service Excellence Awards.
More information can be found at nationalmigrationconference.org.