Mareline Alfaro and Ana Rocha Delgado, two Lee University students, attended the Immigration Forum in Washington, D.C. Along with Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English Dr. Carolyn Dirksen, the students attended the invitation-only event by request of Dr. Shirley Hoogstra, president of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, who was one of the presenters at the forum.
“I am grateful for the invitation from Dr. Hoogstra because this was a remarkable opportunity for our students and for me,” said Dr. Dirksen. “It was encouraging to all of us to see the broad range of organizations brought together to find ways of solving the immigration dilemma.”
The Lee delegates attended the "Leading the Way" conference sponsored by the National Immigration Forum. The CCCU works with the forum on immigration issues as they impact Christian higher education.
Ms. Alfaro, Ms. Rocha Delgado, and Dr. Dirksen listened to multiple presentations at the forum, including one led by two senators, a Republican and a Democrat, working together to support immigration reform. Ms. Rocha Delgado emphasized how inspiring it was to see opposing political parties come together on such a delicate topic. “Both senators said the best solution to creating a positive drive for a change in immigration would be for people to reach out to their senators,” said Ms. Rocha Delgado. “This way senators can learn to prioritize the subject and know that people care and want to see action.”
Other panel topics include the impact immigration has on the economy and how media outlets have shaped the debate on immigration. “My favorite speaker was Mayra Rose, the Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of Cummins Inc.,” said Ms. Rocha Delgado. “She was so passionate about Dreamers and spoke on how they have helped her company.”
After presentations, they went to Capitol Hill to lobby senators. The trio was a part of a small group invited to the offices of several senators to speak with their staff about immigration legislation. During the sessions with senators’ staff, Ms. Alfaro and Ms. Rocha Delgado shared what is was like being Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
“Ana and Mareline told their stories in ways that were thoughtful, articulate, and very persuasive,” said Dr. Dirksen.
“Being surrounded by important people who were listening to me tell a bit of my story was so empowering,” said Ms. Rocha Delgado. “Knowing that these people took time out of their busy schedules because they care about the topic made it easy to express myself.”
The trio attended a reception where Dr. Hoogstra was honored as a “Keeper of the American Dream.”
For more information on the Immigration Forum, visit https://immigrationforum.org/event/leadingtheway/.