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placeholder February 18, 2013   •   VOL. 51, NO. 4   •   Oakland, CA
Immigration, human trafficking discussed
at social justice forum

About 300 people gathered at Holy Names University in Oakland on Feb. 2 for the university's third-annual Bay Area Social Justice Forum.

Sister Susan Wells, SNJM, director of the Center for Social Justice at Holy Names University, was pleased with the strong turnout. "Anytime you gather together 300 people who are passionate about justice and care about making a positive difference in the world, there is a natural positive energy that is generated. That is what we had hoped for when we envisioned this event three years ago and we are so pleased to have the amazing collaboration of so many different organizations who together create the space for learning, sharing and acting to create a just world."

In the morning keynote session, Mark Wexler, co-founder of Not for Sale, a grass-roots organization fighting human trafficking, talked about the group's role in fighting human trafficking at the corporate level. The afternoon keynote was a panel session, led by Rev. Deborah Lee of the Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights and four young adults who shared their experiences of immigration and how the broken immigration system has affected them and their families.

Wardah Chowdry, Mario Lio, Yvette Jimenez and Wei Lee provided real-life context about the immigration debate and put a human face to the issue.

"It was very eye-opening as the brave young adults shared their struggles, their pain, and their tears in front of the whole audience," Holy Names High School student Brenda Loza wrote in a reflection paper. She was among several students from her school attending with campus minister and religious studies teacher Molleen Dupree-Dominguez.

"What was more impacting was their determination and willingness to fight until they see justice served to not only them, but those all around the country in the same situation," Brenda wrote.

Rev. Lee and Michael James later led an afternoon workshop where participants shared their own migration stories.

That workshop was the highlight of the day for Holy Names High School student Sara Sologaistoa.

"This was by far my favorite part of the day. It was not so much of a presentation, but more of people getting to know each other and sharing their stories. Mr. James started by telling us to write down a moment when we, or someone in our family, had to immigrate," she wrote in a reflection paper.

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