Diversity has always been a huge part of Cabrini. Especially considering how Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini was the patron saint of immigrants. On Thursday, April 27, 2017, Cabrini launched a new, academic, non-partisan organization that will forward Mother Cabrini’s mission.
Directed by Abel Rodriguez, an assistant professor of religion, law and social justice at Cabrini. The Center on Immigration focuses on the promotion of immigrant rights and justice through research, education and advocacy. The Center was also established honor and further the legacy of Mother Cabrini thus expanding the university’s efforts to work for immigrant justice.
According to Rodriguez, this will be done through promoting “more just policies for people in migration by engaging scholars and student scholars in interdisciplinary research that provides critical analysis of the inherent flaws and injustices in the immigration system.”
Rodriguez expressed great pride in leading the Center on Immigration at an institution with Mother Cabrini’s name on it.
“As an alumnus and faculty member, I feel incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to work on the issues I am most passionate about at an institution whose mission I so strongly believe in,” Rodriguez said.
Campus Ministry and the Wolfington Center– despite not participating in the development of the Center, according to Wolfington Center director Thomas Southard– fully support it and its mission.
Campus Minister Rosa Altomare is especially proud to see Cabrini “take such a big action to support immigrants in this country.” Altomare said that doing so is exactly what Mother Cabrini would want.
“It will be a helpful resource to students who may be undocumented or have family members that are undocumented. Also, I expect that it will be informative to all students, faculty and staff about issues surrounding immigration. Especially, with regard to immigration law,” Altomare said.
In the past, the Center on Immigration has hosted a couple events, including a panel on issues of migration during the launch event and co-sponsored a Know Your Rights workshop with the Wolfington Center on May 2 last spring.
On Sept. 27, 2017, the Center will host a yearly event with the help of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and other local partners called Citizenship Day. Hosted at three sites in the Philadelphia area, including Montgomery, Delaware and Chester County, this event brings attorneys and community volunteers together to provide free assistance to people seeking citizenship.
Other upcoming events include another Know Your Rights workshop in October, the Spectacle Living and Learning Community‘s Film Festival in November and an unnamed major event each spring that will feature famous speakers on issues of migration. These events are free and open to the public.
Since the Center’s launch, Rodriguez has already heard from students, faculty, alumni and community members who wish to be involved with the center however they can. He also encourages students to reach out with event suggestions and learn more about how they can get involved.
Sophomore Matt DeAngelis, a supporter of immigration, has expressed interest in visiting the center in the future.
“I like what it’s doing,” DeAngelis said. “Expressing concern and helping out others that are in need of support.”
Currently, there’s no dedicated office space for the Center of Immigration so the Center is being run out of Rodriguez’s office in Grace Hall, Room 228.
Rodriguez is grateful for all the support the center has already gotten and looks forward to seeing how the Center will evolve.
“I’m excited for the collaborations that are already developing and those that will develop going forward,” Rodriguez said.