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StraightTalk: Who Gets to be American?

Who Gets to be American? Immigration and the Fight for America’s Future

Presented in partnership with Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Furman

Thursdays: August 30 and September 6 and October 1, 2018
Shaw Hall, Younts Conference Center
6:30 – 8:00 p.m.

Immigration has become a wedge issue in the United States, stirring fear, anxiety, and anger among Americans on both sides of the issue. Building a wall to prevent illegal immigration and restricting legal immigration are central to President Trump’s agenda. An August 2016 PEW survey showed 66% of Trump supporters viewed immigration as a “very big problem.”

Even so, polls show that most Americans favor legislation that supports a pathway to citizenship for the Dreamers and other undocumented immigrants. Although some Americans fear the negative impact of both legal and illegal immigration, others envision an America that is a haven for refugees and welcomes immigrants from all nations. 

Our three-part series examined current and recent immigration enforcement policies and their impact, the effect of immigration on jobs and our economy, and what the changing demographics of the United States mean for our politics and elections.

To view all biographies, click here.

Session One  August 30: Immigration Enforcement in a Post-9/11 America

Tough border security and strict enforcement of immigration laws are a focal point of the Trump Administration. How does this compare to other recent administrations? What does this mean for undocumented immigrants, ICE, the courts, our communities, and our safety?

Keynote: The Immigration Debate: Law, Policy, and Enforcement

Steve Legomsky, Ph.D., J.D. (bio) John S. Lehmann University Professor Emeritus, Washington University School of Law in St. Louis

Conversation: Community and Local Impact moderated by Diane Vecchio, Ph.D., (bio) professor, Furman Department of History

The Hon. Neal Collins (R)(bio) Member, S.C. House of Representatives (Dist. 5, Pickens County)

Garry McFadden(bio) Sheriff-elect, Mecklenburg County, N.C.

Akan Malici, Ph.D., (bio) professor, Furman Department of Politics and International Affairs

Session Two  September 6: Chasing the American Dream: The Economics of Immigration

Cities and towns want jobs, economic growth, and vital communities. Is immigration good or bad for our economy and for our nation’s well-being?   

Immigrants and the U.S. Economy: What the Numbers Show

Ken Peterson, Ph.D., (bio) Furman dean of faculty and John D. Hollingsworth, Jr. Professor of Economics

An Immigrant's Story: Struggle, Success, and Giving Back

Basil Bacall, (bio) founder and CEO of Elite Hospitality Group

Conversation: Maximizing the potential and economic power of immigrants moderated by Ken Peterson

Basil Bacall

Anthony Herrera, (bio) executive director for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Furman University

Julie Smithwick(bio) founder and executive director of PASOs 


Session Three  October 1: The Changing Face of America: Impact on the 2018 Election and Beyond

Despite recent changes in immigration policy, demographics in America are changing, and continued change is inevitable. What can we expect politically in the coming decades as America becomes a majority-minority country? How will this impact who runs for and who wins public office in America?

A Changing Electorate: How Republicans Should Respond

Whit Ayres, Ph.D.(bio) founder and president, North Star Opinion Research

A Changing Electorate: How Democrats Should Respond

Peter Hart, (bio) founder, Hart Research and leading public opinion analyst

Conversation: Politics and Political Identities moderated by Danielle Vinson, Ph.D., (bio) professor, Furman Department of Politics and International Affairs

Whit Ayres

Peter Hart

Jessica Taylor(bio) NPR political reporter

Closing Remarks: Dick Riley, former U.S. Secretary of Education and S.C. Governor

Press Coverage

GSA Business Report

The Summer Series is presented by The Riley Institute at Furman
and Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Furman