by Richard Macmaster
The 5th Conference on Immigration to the U.S. South brought academics and activists to the University of Florida campus the last week in October. Planned around the theme “Immigration Reform and Beyond?” when passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill still seemed possible, conference speakers had to deal with the reality that meaningful reform of the broken system will not happen in the foreseeable future.
Keynote speakers put immigration in broad perspective. Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami spoke to the moral imperative for immigration reform and an end to deportations. Professor Mae Ngai of Columbia University addressed “illegal” immigration in American history and a remedy for the present impasse. Monica Ramirez of the Southern Poverty Law Center dealt with anti-immigrant bias and efforts to counteract it through the courts.