On October 18th, Applegate & Thorne-Thomsen's DEI Committee hosted a panel discussion entitled, "How U.S. Nativism & Empire Has Shaped Decades of Immigration Policy." This panel discussion was the third installment of the firm's Community Member & Engagement Series and focused on the history and legacy of American nativism and empire as it relates to present-day immigration policy -- and how advocates and communities are building power to effect change. The panelists included:

Daniel Denvir: Daniel is the host of The Dig, a podcast on politics, history, and economics, and author of All-American Nativism: How the Bipartisan War on Immigrants Explains Politics as We Know It. He is also the co-chair of Reclaim Rhode Island, an organization fighting for social and economic justice in the Ocean State. Reclaim RI is dedicated to ending the housing crisis by dramatically expanding the provision of public housing, organizing tenants, and winning new tenant protections at the state and municipal level.

Eréndira "Ere" Rendón: Ere is the Vice President of Immigrant Justice at The Resurrection Project (TRP). Ere created TRP’s Immigrant Justice Department and serves as the organization’s lead strategist and manager of local and state-wide campaigns impacting the lives of immigrants. Ere has played a leading role in the successful passage of many pro-immigrant reforms in Illinois, including Temporary Visitors Driver's Licenses, the renewal of Illinois’ All Kids healthcare program, the expansion of healthcare to undocumented seniors and older adults in Illinois, the Chicago Legal Protection Fund, the creation of the first ever immigration unit in the law office of the Cook County Public Defender, and the Illinois Access to Justice Program, a first-in-the-nation program with a budget of $20,000,000 budget that provides free legal representation and mass "know-your-rights" education to vulnerable and resilient populations ravaged by the twin scourges of mass incarceration and mass deportations. Ere is an undocumented immigrant with DACA protection. Ere was born in Oaxaca, Mexico and immigrated to the U.S. in 1990 to be reunited with her dad.

Imelda Salazar: Imelda is an organizer with Chicago’s Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP). Originally from Guatemala, Imelda is actively involved in SWOP's immigration & housing organizing and works closely with faith institutions on the Southwest side of Chicago. She is passionate about leadership development and is always finding opportunities to create spaces for leaders to grow and develop.

The panel discussion was facilitated by Ryan Hatten, an Applegate & Thorne-Thomsen attorney. In his words, “Daniel Denvir laid out how nativist immigration politics have functioned for decades to mystify a simple truth – that the U.S.’s foreign policy of aggression & exploitation in Latin America has directly led to the displacement & migration of millions of people in the region. Ere Rendón and Imelda Salazar then shared with us how they and others are fighting back – namely, by organizing to build power in immigrant communities, forming relationships & coalitions across perceived boundaries, and advocating for policy change formulated from the ground up. This event was as informative as it was inspiring, and I sincerely thank all of our panelists for their participation.”