Emory Report
February 9, 2009
Volume 61, Number 19



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February 9, 2009

Debating illegal immigration
What is our obligation to an estimated 12 million-plus illegal immigrants currently in-country and millions more seeking safe harbor? Debaters sponsored by the Aquinas Center of Theology tackled this highly divisive issue.

Oklahoma University law professor Michael Scaperlanda argued that “the contributions of immigrants made this country great and their efforts remain in demand today.” Washington D.C. immigration consultant William Chip countered that “a government study going back to 1981 concluded that immigrant labor is no longer needed to fuel this economy.”

Both agreed, however, that there will be no quick resolution as lawmakers wrestle with even greater issues.
— James Harper

Challenges of political reform
Political expert Paul Quirk discussed the challenges facing President Barack Obama’s political reform agenda at “‘Change We Can Believe In’ Meets Reality: The Obama Presidency and the Limits of American Politics,” a Founders Week event.

Quirk, Paul Lind Chair in U.S. Politics and Representation at the University of British Columbia, said Obama’s inaugural address highlighted three areas of the new administration’s reform focus. In short, politicians have been too responsive to special interests, have been wasteful in spending, and have been bogged down by excessive unrestrained bipartisanship.

He believes that Obama’s agenda will face three major limitations. “The special interests have too much power; the general public has too little understanding; and political parties cater to the extremes,” says Quirk.
— Christi Gray

Conservation in climate change
“The world is now human managed, the Earth is a human garden, and our impacts are revolutionary for the future of our planet,” said Wildlife Conservation Society President Steve Sanderson. “So it stands to reason that we need to think this through, think of [global climate change] differently than before we ran the Earth. And it’s as prosaic as our personal habits and as profound as our systems of addressing global biodiversity.”

Sanderson, former dean of Emory College, spoke on “Conservation, Climate Change and the Human Prospect” at a Founders Week event co-sponsored by the Creativity and Arts Initiative, Office of Sustainability, the Department of Environmental Studies, and the Hightower Fund. — Nancy Seideman