Border Ethics panel discussion: Oct. 3 at UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures

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(Oct. 1, 2012) -- Who and what should be let across the border? How far can we go to stop those we choose not to allow? How should we treat those who have just crossed? Those who crossed last year, 10 or 20 years ago? What do we owe those who continue to live across the border, perhaps in great poverty? What do they owe us? Does the border make us who we are?

>> At a discussion hosted by the Institute of Texan Cultures and the UTSA Department of Philosophy and Classics, these are the questions that will be asked of a distinguished panel of experts, who will discuss the ethical dilemmas posed by immigration. Free and open to the public, the event will be 6-8 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 3 at the museum, 801 Cesar E. Chavez Blvd.

"We're here to stimulate thought and dialog on the ethical issues we face, living so close to the border," said Alistair Welchman, UTSA assistant professor of philosophy and panel moderator. "If we can't talk about the issue, we can't change it. We've brought together a panel of individuals from so many backgrounds and different perspectives. This will be a wonderful opportunity to broaden the discussion.

Keynote speaker for the panel is Joseph Carens, a professor of political science at the University of Toronto. Carens, a dual-citizen of the United States and Canada, is an extensively published and cited author on the subject of border ethics, having written "Immigrants and the Right to Stay" and "Culture, Citizenship and Community: A Contextual Exploration of Justice as Evenhandedness." He has presented various border ethics cases in The Boston Review and on C-SPAN.

"Over time, people become members of the society where they live, even when they have settled without authorization," said Carens. "This is especially clear with children who grow up in a society and who are not responsible for being there. It also applies to those who come as adults. After a while, the circumstances of their arrival are simply less important, morally. We should recognize the reality of their social membership and grant them a legal right to stay".

Other panelists include:

  • Harriett Romo, professor of sociology and director of the UTSA Mexico Center
  • Jorge Valadez, associate professor of philosophy, Our Lady of the Lake University
  • Rev. Oscar Cantu, auxiliary bishop, Archdiocese of San Antonio
  • William McManus, chief, San Antonio Police Department
  • Robert Rivard, former editor of the San Antonio Express-News
  • John Phillip Santos, UTSA University Distinguished Scholar in Mestizo Cultural Studies and author of "The Farthest Home is an Empire of Fire"
  • Carolina Canizales, DREAMer and UTSA Honors College graduate

In the first half of the event, panelists will present their views on moral issues tied to living in the border region. The second half will be dedicated to dialog.

"This panel will reach to the core of who we are and what responsibility we have to one another. It's about people, not politics," said Lupita Barrera, ITC director of education and interpretation. "The Institute of Texan Cultures is about finding yourself. This topic is very much a part of our identity and culture in San Antonio."

In addition to the panel, a UTSA ethics class will present posters illustrating panel topics. Judging for the student competition is from 3 to 5 p.m. The posters, incorporating text, art and photography, will remain on display through the evening.

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The Institute of Texan Cultures serves as the forum for the understanding and appreciation of Texas and Texans through research, collections, exhibits and programs. The museum strives to become the nation's premier institution of contemporary cultural and ethnic studies focusing on Texans and the diverse cultural communities that make Texas what it is. An agency of the UTSA Office of the Vice President for Community Services and a Smithsonian affiliate, the 182,000-square-foot complex features 45,000 square feet of exhibit space and five re-creation Texas frontier period structures.