Marshall, Martinez Among Immigration Speakers to Address Issues at Wake Forest

Ray Marshall, former U.S. secretary of labor in the Carter administration, and Republican U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida will be featured as the keynote speakers at “Immigration: Recasting the Debate,” a three-day conference hosted by Wake Forest University Oct. 3-5.  The conference, which kicks off the University’s 2007-2008 Voices of Our Time speaker series, is free and open to the public.

“The immigration debate has reached a stalemate because of the complex and conflicting issues involved, and the failure of past policies to effectively legalize immigration flows,” said Marshall.  “We have a very narrow window of opportunity to design effective policies compatible with our national values and interests.  We might not get another chance.”

Martinez agrees that reform is necessary.  “Immigration is at the heart of our nation’s successful history, and we have to be thoughtful about how we reform our policies for the future,” said Martinez.  “The current laws are insufficient and true reform will have to be comprehensive and address the needs of our nation.”

According to organizers, the conference is designed to provide an opportunity for people to systematically explore many of the aspects of the current immigration impasse, including border issues. 

“Having 12 million people in this country illegally is a huge problem that must be addressed. The question is how,” said David Coates, conference co-chair and Worrell Professor of Anglo-American Studies at Wake Forest.  “This conference seeks to explore that.  We encourage people to come in a genuine spirit of inquiry and raise questions to the speakers.   Exchange views with them.  We need to be able to calmly talk to each other about how to resolve this.”

The event will open Oct. 3 with a screening of “Crossing Arizona,” a documentary film about the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps, a national citizen’s neighborhood watch whose mission is to secure the American border.  The film will be re-shown the evening of Oct. 4 followed by a question-and-answer session with director Dan DeVivo. Throughout the conference, leading representatives from both conservative and liberal think tanks, including Cato Institute, the Economic Policy Institute, The Heritage Foundation and the World Policy Institute, and top-rated scholars from universities across the country will present the latest data and research addressing various aspects of immigration.

Federal, state and local politicians from both parties have been invited to attend the conference.  Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina will give introductory remarks and introduce Martinez.  Conference attendees will also have the opportunity to participate in public question-and-answer sessions and workshops.

For complete event information, including a conference schedule and biographical information on participants visit

Seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

Voices of Our Time is an annual guest speaker series that exposes students, the Wake Forest community and the general public to some of the world’s leading thinkers for discussions on the important national and international issues of our time.  It was established in 2006 by Wake Forest President Nathan O. Hatch.