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Pelton Advocates for Immigrant Rights as State House Keynote Speaker

President Lee Pelton will join hundreds of immigrants and refugees—from new arrivals to recently sworn-in U.S. citizens—at the Massachusetts State House on Tuesday, November 21, as the keynote speaker for the 13th annual “Our Shared Table” luncheon hosted by the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA). 

“Our Shared Table” celebrates the Commonwealth’s rich diversity and provides a warm, informal setting in which new Americans can meet public officials, share personal stories, and make new connections.

“I am honored to be invited to speak at this year’s ‘Our Shared Table’ luncheon,” said Emerson College President Lee Pelton. “The conversation around immigration continues to be a pivotal national issue. As we approach the holiday season, it’s important for us to remember we are a nation of immigrants who continue to help build this nation in every aspect of human endeavor. To ignore this is to forget our history.”

This year’s event comes at a difficult time for immigrants who are facing aggressive political action against undocumented people as well as an increase of nativist rhetoric and a reduction in refugee admissions. 

President Pelton will highlight his and Emerson College’s commitment to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students, as well as his support for progressive immigration reform, Dreamers’ access to higher education, and acceptance in the community. Earlier this year, following U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' announcement that the Trump administration will end the DACA program, President Pelton reaffirmed the College’s commitment to Emerson’s DACA students.

Tuesday’s luncheon will also feature Attorney General Maura Healey; Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders; Sister Marie-Judith Dupuy, of the Haitian Apostolate at the Diocese of Worcester; and Paola Sánchez, a “Dreamer” and MassBay Community College student. In addition, Democratic Party Chairman Tom Perez will present MIRA’s inaugural Young Champion of Justice Award, created in memory of his niece Analisa Smith-Perez, who was a lawyer in MIRA’s Justice AmeriCorps program to help unaccompanied minors in immigration court.

The two immigrant speakers on the program will discuss the urgent concerns of Massachusetts residents being covered by the DACA program, which has enabled more than 8,000 undocumented immigrants in the Commonwealth brought to the U.S. as children to live, study, and work legally. 

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