The ongoing issue of immigration in the United States will be the focus of this year's Critical Issues Symposium at Hope College, scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 2-3.

The ongoing issue of immigration in the United States will be the focus of this year's Critical Issues Symposium at Hope College, scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 2-3.

The college's annual Critical Issues Symposium provides an intensive look at a single topic. This year's symposium is examining "Immigration: Shaping and Reshaping America" and will feature two keynote addresses, two blocks of concurrent focus sessions, and departmental sponsored sessions.

The public is invited. Admission is free.

The symposium opens on Tuesday, Oct. 2, at 7 p.m. with a keynote address by award-winning writer Luis Alberto Urrea in Dimnent Memorial Chapel. A 2005 Pulitzer Prize finalist for nonfiction and member of the Latino Literature Hall of Fame, Urrea is a prolific and acclaimed writer who uses his dual-culture life experiences to explore greater themes of love, loss and triumph. Born in Tijuana, Mexico, to a Mexican father and an American mother, Urrea has published extensively in all the major genres.

"The Devil's Highway," his 2004 non-fiction account of a group of Mexican immigrants lost in the Arizona desert, won the 2004 Lannan Literary Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the Pacific Rim Kiriyama Prize. A national best-seller, "The Devil's Highway" was also named a best book of the year by the "Los Angeles Times," the "Miami Herald," the "Chicago Tribune," the "Kansas City Star" and many other publications.

On Wednesday, Oct. 3, Stephanie J. Nawyn will give the morning keynote address at 9 a.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel. Nawyn, who is a member of the faculty at Michigan State University, has published several articles on immigration issues, and her work has focused on how faith-based and secular agencies interact with immigrants.

The morning concurrent focus sessions on Wednesday, Oct. 3, will begin at 10:30 a.m. with sessions focusing on illegal immigration issues. Sessions include "The Right to Migrate, Illegal Immigration, and the Rule of Law," by Pepperdine University economist Andrew M. Yuengert; "Unauthorized Immigrants: Their Current and Future Roles in American Society," by Jennifer Van Hook, a professor at Pennsylvania State University; a "Local Issues" panel with area business owner Tony Castillo, Roberto Jara, who is executive director of Latin Americans United for Progress, and other members of the community; and a "Crossing Arizona" discussion with activist Mike Wilson and film director Dan DeVivo.

The afternoon concurrent focus sessions look at a wide range of immigration issues on Wednesday, Oct. 3, beginning at 1 p.m. They include "The Metamorphosis of Immigration Reform in the United States," by Catherine Wilson, a professor at Villanova University; "Welcoming the Immigrant," by Vincent Delgado, director of Lansing's Refugee Development Center; "The Netherlands: A Reluctant Immigrant Nation," by Dutch sociologist Gerrit-Bartus M. Dielissen; and a talk by Howard University professor Fariyal Ross-Sheriff.

The symposium will close with a series of departmental sponsored sessions on Wednesday, Oct. 3, at 2:15 p.m. which allow speakers to focus on a more specific area. Departments sponsoring speakers include English, women's studies and political science, religion, education and the Van Wylen Library, sociology, and modern and classical languages.

Additional details concerning the two blocks of sessions and departmental session, including locations, will be available in the printed program distributed during the symposium, and may also be found through the college's Web site at

Activities scheduled in conjunction with the symposium include a lecture by Alejandro Portes on Tuesday, Sept. 25, at 4 p.m. in the Maas Center auditorium. Portes is the author of several books on immigration and is considered one of the leading experts in the area.

In addition, the college will be showing the film "Crossing Arizona" on Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 20-22, and Monday-Thursday, Sept. 24-27, at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. in the Knickerbocker Theatre. Tickets for the films are $6 for regular admission and $5 for senior citizens and students. The director and one of the people featured in the film are part of the Wednesday morning focus sessions.

The college's Critical Issues Symposium, first held in 1980, was established to stimulate serious thinking about current issues, and to provide a forum in which the Holland community, students and faculty may all engage in discussion with experts. The college cancels classes for a day to provide an opportunity for the event.

Past topics have included "Genocide," "The Middle East," "World Hunger," "The Family," "Energy," "Civil Rights," "The Quest for Justice: Christian Voices," "Lifeboat Earth: Decisions for Tomorrow," "The Columbus Legacy, 1492-1992," "Race and Social Change in America," "What Future Is in our Genes: Freedom from Disease, Good Investment, Manufactured Humans?," "Sport and American Life," "Feminism and Faith: Implications for Life," "Gold Rush and Ghost Towns: Living with the Internet," "Earth Matters: Daily Decisions, Environmental Echoes," "Putting Science in Its Place: Discovery and Responsibility," and "Race and Opportunity: Echoes of Brown v. Board of Education."

Dimnent Memorial Chapel is located at 277 College Ave., at College Avenue and 12th Street. The Knickerbocker Theatre is located in downtown Holland at 86 E. Eighth St. The Maas Center is located at 264 Columbia Ave., at Columbia Avenue and 11th Street.

More information about the symposium may be obtained online at