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Valpo law school to explore topic of immigration

The complex topic of immigration will take center stage at the Valparaiso University School of Law on Sept. 14. Registration is required.


VALPARAISO — The complex topic of immigration will take center stage at the Valparaiso University Law School on Sept. 14.

The event, which features a screening of the movie “Documented” and a panel discussion by immigration experts, will take place from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the Tabor classroom. RSVP is required at

“Documented” chronicles the life of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, who outed himself as an undocumented immigrant in the New York Times Magazine in 2011.

The movie explores Vargas’ journey to America from the Philippines as a child.

Highlights include his re-connection with his mother, whom he hadn’t seen in 20 years, and his work in the United States as an immigration reform activist.

The movie will be followed by a discussion on “Immigration Enforcement: A Dialogue Concerning Borders and Sanctuary.”

Panelists include: Mark Fleming, associate director of litigation at Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center in Chicago; Karla Lopez-Owens, who crossed the Mexico-U.S. border in 1999 and lived in the United States without a legal status until her naturalization in 2009; and Judge Robert D. Vinikoor, who served more than 30 years as an immigration judge.

Geoffrey Heeren, associate professor and director of the immigration clinic at Valpo Law School, will moderate the discussion.

“The panel will address whether the vision at the heart of ‘Documented’ — a path to legalization for some of the undocumented immigrants in this country — still makes sense,” Heeren said.

Discussion is expected to include how President Donald Trump’s policies have impacted undocumented immigrants, and whether those policies are legal, moral or wise, Heeren said.

“I hope the audience will learn that immigration is a complex topic and the black and white way it is often presented in the media and during policy debates can be misleading,” Heeren said.

“There may be ways to craft immigration policy so that it offers hope to some undocumented immigrants without encouraging lawbreaking. I also hope the audience learns that it is urgent that we, as a country, look for those sorts of solutions soon, because the system as it stands is dysfunctional and unjust,” he said.