Diverse panel discusses challenges of passing immigration reform at LBJ School


Emily Ng

Dr. Victor B. Sáenz, assistant professor in the Department of Educational Administration at UT, moderates a panel discussion for the Public Affairs Alliance for Communities of Color about immigration reform at Sid Richardson Hall Wednesday afternoon.

Zach Lozano

As the national debate on immigration reform heats up, the wide-ranging views on the topic were on display at a discussion Wednesday. 

Victor Saenz, assistant professor in the Department of Educational Administration, moderated the discussion at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, which featured four panelists from varying backgrounds.

According to Bill Beardall, director of the Transnational Worker Rights Clinic, successful immigration reform would need to include several components such as fair temporary guest programs, tougher law enforcement and legislation.

“Temporary guest programs that are fair and help future flow of immigrants and a version of the DREAM Act need to be discussed,” Beardall said. 

Drew DeBerry, deputy commissioner of the Texas Department of Agriculture, said it is unfair for law enforcement to judge if someone has good or bad intentions when crossing the border.

“We need to advise those in politics to find an issue that had derailed and fix it,” DeBerry said. “The big issue is the pathway to citizenship.”

Other panelists included anthropology professor Martha Menchaca and Joshua Trevino, vice president of communications for the Texas Public Policy Foundation. 

The Public Affairs Alliance for Communities of Color, an organization which promotes diversity and enrichment in the LBJ School, hosted the talk. 

Raul Sanchez, a public affairs graduate student who helped organize the discussion, said the goal of this discussion and others like it was to provide support for first generation students by bringing high profile guests in as speakers. 

“In order for there to be an understanding of social issues within our community, we have to inform ourselves on all sides of an issue,” Sanchez said. “The brown bag forum on immigration helped students understand a snapshot of the many perspectives of what to consider in working towards a comprehensive approach to immigration reform.”

Public relations freshman Madelynne Rodriguez attended the event because she has a personal connection to it. 

“My boyfriend is from Japan,” Rodriguez said. “And because he wasn’t 18 when his mother was naturalized, he has to wait two more years [before he is naturalized].” 

Rodriguez said her experiences make her feel the immigration system in America is flawed and needs to be fixed. 

“Until some hardcore action takes place, nothing is going to get done,” Rodriguez said.