Panel to discuss immigration issues today


Nebraska has always been a land of immigrants, but immigration issues have been at the center of public debate in 2011.

The College of Journalism and Mass Communications will host a community conversation about immigration challenges and opportunities at 5:30 p.m. April 18 in Andersen Hall room 15.

Panelists participating in the moderated discussion are State Sen. Charlie Janssen of Fremont, UNL student Benjamin Kantack, Rev. David Lux of Lincoln's St. Paul United Methodist Church and Leticia Rodriguez of Madison, a recruiter for the Nebraska Department of Education's Migrant Education Program.

Audience members will explore issues, question panelists and offer suggestions in this civic conversation sponsored by the Nebraska State Historical Society and the College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

The event will be broadcast live on Time Warner Cable channels 5 and 21 and on 90.3 KRNU-FM and streamed live at

The community conversation, part of the Nebraska State Historical Society's series, "We the People: The Nebraska Viewpoint," is free and open to the public. Support for the event comes in part from the Nebraska Humanities Council, the Cooper Foundation and the Woods Charitable Fund.

For more information, call (402) 471-3270 or (402) 472-3041, or visit or

Janssen has represented District 15 in the Nebraska Legislature since January 2009. His bill assigning illegal immigration enforcement duties to local police (LB48) is in committee. He was elected to the Fremont City Council in 2006 and voted for a local ordinance banning hiring and renting to undocumented immigrants. When the ordinance failed to advance after a council deadlock, supporters successfully petitioned the council to put the matter to a vote of Fremont's residents. In 2010, a majority voted in favor of the ordinance, and it was enacted by the council. It is being challenged in district court.

Kantack, of Brookings, S.D., is a junior with a double major in political science and Spanish, with a minor in Latin American studies. He is a member of the College Republicans, and he wrote a final paper for an upper-level political science course studying the effects of media coverage on Arizona's SB 1070, a controversial state immigration law that has been challenged in court.

Lux has been the senior pastor at St. Paul United Methodist Church since 2002. He earned a bachelor's degree in sociology from UNL and went on to get a master's in theology from the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. He believes immigration is one of the most important issues facing our state and nation and doesn't hesitate to preach about Christianity's viewpoint.

Rodriguez is also the home-school coordinator for Madison Public Schools. As a child, she immigrated to the United States from Mexico. She and her husband were among the first Mexican families to move to Madison in the 1990s. Rodríguez is a leader in Madison's immigrant community where she helps families overcome everyday struggles.

- Marilyn Hahn, Journalism and Mass Communications

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