By: RACHEL CAIN-Staff Writer
Abigail Lambert, a senior international studies major, founded the student organization Flyers for Immigration Reform in early March. Lamberts’ group is dedicated to making the United States’ immigration process easier and more accessible to those seeking a new life in the U.S.
Since its establishment, the members of FIR have participated in several immigration-themed events, including having guest speakers come to UD sociology professor Theo Majka’s Immigration and Immigrants course.
FIR also visited Xavier University to see Fast for Families, a touring bus of people fasting to end deportation. In solidarity with Fast for Families, 20 UD students committed to fasting for a day.
Of her experiences with FIR, Lambert said the most impactful was lobbying alongside two other students during a visit to Ohio U.S. Congress Representative Mike Turner’s staff.
“That fuels my personal interest in immigration reform and the human rights area as well as the political interest I have academically. And everyone thinks lobbying can be so scary, but it’s so easy. You just have to call, set up an appointment and take about 30 minutes of your time,” Lambert said.
“We were really well received at Congressman Turner’s office,” Lambert said.
Lambert said that during the lobbying visits, her group was told they were the “first undergraduate group in the Dayton area that took the initiative to do a lobby visit in the Dayton community.” She said she plans to coordinate more lobby visits in the future.
Lambert said interacting with immigrants in the Dayton community has helped her develop her awareness about how prevalent of an issue immigration is throughout the Dayton community.
Lambert tutors at Kiser PreK-8 School, a Dayton Public School, where many of the students are immigrants. She described her experience there as being “eye-opening to how big immigration is in the Dayton community.”
She emphasized the substantial international community at UD to illustrate how immigration reform should be very important on campus.
“There are so many members of the Dayton community and University of Dayton’s campus that have been immigrants before or know immigrants personally in the community,” Lambert said.
Lambert said her interest in human rights fuels her motivation to work for immigration reform.
“The immigration system we have is so broken,” Nick Cardilino, director of the Center for Social Concern, said. “It doesn’t respect the dignity of the human person.”
The current immigration system in the U.S. “breaks up families and puts people’s lives at risk,” Cardilino said.
The cause for immigration reform is “in line with our Catholic and Marianist tradition,” Majka said. “U.S. Catholic Bishops have endorsed comprehensive reform, they have condemned the cycle of detain and deport, detain and deport, that’s been going on right now.”
There are many references in Scripture about caring for the immigrants and strangers, Cardilino said. “We have a special obligation to care for them,” he said.
“If we, as a University of Dayton community believe in social justice and the dignity of the human person, then you should definitely join this group to help make that a reality,” Cardilino said.
To learn more about Flyers for Immigration Reform, email Abi Lambert at firstname.lastname@example.org, text “Flyer Path” to 97779 or “like” their Facebook page, “Flyers for Immigration Reform.”