The Immigration Issue

Migration is one of the defining issues of the twenty-first century. It is now an essential, inevitable and potentially beneficial component of the economic and social life of every country and region. Brunson McKinley, Director General, International Organization for Migration

Border photo courtesy of Fr. Daniel Groody

This year’s Forum again engages our students’ minds and hearts with one of the great challenges that they must address as tomorrow’s leaders. We approach the complex challenge of immigration in a multi-faceted way with these goals in mind:

  • Engage our students intellectually about this issue of importance.
  • Bring the university community together in reflection on this topic.
  • Draw upon the highest levels of expertise relevant to the issue while integrating the discussion with moral considerations and faith perspectives.
  • Make a contribution to national, ecclesial, and global discussions.
  • Demonstrate the kind of reflection and discussion that goes on at this University.

As with every Forum, the learning process encourages a number of steps:

  • Students are invited to prepare for the featured discussion through readings and conversations with faculty and others. This year, an online mini-course is offered.
  • A featured discussion with a panel of leading experts stimulates further reflection.
  • Conversations on the topic continue in classrooms, residence halls, and other venues on campus and beyond.
  • Students and institutions of the University generate agendas for action and service in light of what they have learned.

More to Consider

Immigration actually presents a spectrum of economic, social, legal, political, and moral issues to be addressed from the perspectives of multiple disciplines and from an interdisciplinary perspective.

More “key questions” that cut across all of these issues and factual considerations are these:

  • How can we measure and compare all the costs and benefits associated with migration, especially in the context of the legitimate needs and rights of individual human persons and whole societies or communities?
  • How can we decide among the conflicting legal rights and responsibilities attributed to the various parties in debates about migration, keeping in perspective not only such contentious terms as “illegal alien” and “amnesty,” but overarching principles drawn from foundational documents (like the U.S. Constitution), international law, and human rights?
  • How can we integrate into our decision-making about immigration the religious and moral values held by the members of a society regarding the integrity and dignity of individuals, of families, of communities, alongside virtues such as patriotism and respect for the rule of law?
  • How can we engage the political process and the influence of civil society in moving beyond stalled polemics to the taking of incremental but cohesive steps that solve immigration-related problems and embody well-thought-out judgments respecting both the individual and the common good?
  • How can we frame issues in ways that help us to find common ground and encourage us to look for win-win situations, both when we deal with the minutiae of specific challenges and when we must examine the more sweeping structures of justice and civic well-being in a rapidly changing world?

A Notre Dame Perspective

Father John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.

"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. 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."

Father John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.

President, University of Notre Dame