The Center on Immigration has been successfully promoting immigrant justice through research, education and advocacy since April 2017. The center has consistently been reaching Cabrini’s mission and following the legacy of Saint Xavier Cabrini, the patron of immigrants.
Professor Abel Rodriguez is the founder and director of the Center on Immigration. He is also the assistant professor of religion, law and social justice at Cabrini. He is the son of immigrants and also is a first generation college graduate. He focuses on teaching advocacy for migrant justice. He is an expert and often speaks on immigration policies and the intersection of criminal and immigration law.
Dr. Mark Kiselica, a former dean at Cabrini, was also instrumental in launching the center, Rodriguez said. Kiselica is an educator, social scientist and advocate for inter-racial harmony.
Kiselica moved from Cabrini to Penn State Harrisburg where he is now the director of the school of behavioral sciences and education.
“It was a collective effort among many people at Cabrini to make the center at Cabrini possible. I am the founding director. Dr.Mark Kiselica, former dean of humanities and social sciences, was also instrumental in launching the center. Ashley Woodruff was the first student to work with us,” Rodriguez said.
The center also provides consultations and legal representation on a limited basis to clients in their immigration matters, including students. “This work will be expanded in spring 2021, and we will be providing legal consultations and representation to more people. The center also coordinates advocacy efforts at the state and national level as well as educational events, including know your rights workshops to train individuals of their rights in encounters with police and immigration and customs enforcement,” Rodriguez said.
The center also involves itself with students and scholars in the pursuit of social justice. Rodriguez feels that all possible is done to promote human rights and human dignity for people in migration.
The center does this by engaging nationally and globally in three interrelated areas of focus that are education and advocacy, research and scholarships and culture and history. The center sponsors interdisciplinary educational forums and symposia. It sponsors them with the goal of influencing positive thoughts, promoting acceptance and inclusivity for all migrants. It also engages scholars and students to act as advocates at the local, national and global level for migrants, refugees and survivors of trafficking.
The center stands to be a leader in problem solving in immigration law and policy.
The center also goes back in history to represent artists who are immigrants and whose art represents themes related to migration. It honors the richness and value of the many immigrant communities with art exhibits, performances, film series and liturgical or devotional services relevant to migrant justice.
For those who would like to become members of the center, events are announced via email and social media. They also have developed a “Migration is Beautiful” campaign to support (im)migrant community members. This can be seen on buttons, stickers, placards and sweatshirts around campus.
The center has also helped students jump into their field of work. Sophomore and political science major Blanche Hossou is the research assistant for the center. She said, “I came to Cabrini and went to the center. I have always wanted to be a lawyer since I was little. I am happy Cabrini cares and can understand us. By us I mean, immigrants like myself.”