Defining borders

A necessary construction or an inhibitor to our moral conscious?


Community members the immigration bill at the Utah state Capitol. Gilbert Cisneros/UVU Review

Borders have been constructed and maintained by humans for numerous reasons. Yet, some may say they are often a source of conflict rather than a source of peace. Whether preserving them or not can be justified in their exclusivity rather than inclusivity is a matter for evaluation.

“Why should utterly arbitrary facts such as where one was born, or where other generations long ago drew boundaries dictate our treatment of others? From a moral perspective, borders are difficult to justify,” said Director of UVU’s Peace and Justice Studies program Dr. Michael Minch.

With the purpose of initiating a constructive dialogue around the topic, the J. Bonner Ritchie Dialogue on Peace and Justice will be held March 29-31 in LI 120. The name of this year’s dialogue is “Borders: Global and Local, Problems and Possibilities.”

The UVU Peace and Justice Studies Department is bringing experts from various disciplines to represent a diversity of perspectives. Doing so will allow for a holistic discussion.

“A great deal of misinformation sits comfortably in popular discourse about immigration; and so to hold a conference which clears up misconceptions and informs students and the public about these matters, is important,” Minch said.

The dialogue will be initiated on March 29 by UVU History/Political Science Lecturer Lynn England with her presentation “From Bridges to Fences” at 10 a.m. Thereafter, at 11:30 a.m., UVU/U of U Professor of Moral and Political Philosophy Russell Askren will discuss “Freedom of Movement and the Asymmetry of the Right to Exit and Enter.”

Following at 2:30 p.m. Rev. John Wester will explore “Comprehensive Immigration Reform from the Catholic Perspective.” A panel discussion will follow from 4 to 5:15 p.m.

The second day of the dialogue will begin at 9 a.m. with UVU Assistant Professor of History/Political Science Geoffrey Cockerham discussing “Good Neighbors? Prospects for US-Mexico Security Cooperation.” At 10 a.m. Mark Alvarez, a Salt Lake City immigration rights attorney, will present on “The Challenge of Borders: Immigration in a Globalized World.”

Afterwards at 11 a.m., Mark Lopez of the Pew Hispanic Center in Washington, D.C. will speak about “Immigration to the US: Trends and Public Opinion.” A panel discussion will follow at 1 p.m. and student papers will be presented thereafter.

The final day of the dialogue will commence at 8:30 a.m. with Olivia Ruiz, professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of San Diego, presenting on “Women, Migration, and Sexual Violence: Lessons from Mexico’s Borders.” At 10 a.m., journalist and author Charles Bowden will speak about “America’s Favorite Lethal Lies about the Border.”

Tony Payan, author and political science professor at the University of Texas at El Paso, will wrap up the presentations at 11:30 a.m. with his discussion of “Community in Crisis: How a City Destroyed Itself.” A final panel discussion will ensue at 2:30 p.m.

The three-day event intends to give students and members of the community the opportunity to listen, learn and engage in valuable dialogue. The issues being addressed call for serious consideration and innovative solutions.

For more information, contact Dr. Michael Minch by phone at 801-863-7482 or by e-mail at mminch@uvu.edu.

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