Guest panelist are Kris Kobach and Clarissa Martinez-De-Castro
The Kansas City Chapter of the Village Square will host the next event of its inaugural season focusing on Immigration laws and practices. The dinner and program will begin at 6 p.m. Feb. 19 at the Community of Christ Auditorium, 1001 West Walnut Street, Independence, Mo.
The event, “Immigration Beyond the Melting Pot: Tossed Salad or Fortress America?,” will include a special guest panel, featuring Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State; and Clarissa Martinez-De-Castro, Vice President, National Council of La Raza (NCLR). Former U.S. Ambassador Allan Katz will serve as moderator, with roving reporting by Nick Haines of KCPT.
Kobach was sworn in as secretary of state in 2011 on a platform widely supported in Kansas to stop voter fraud. He holds a law degree from Yale Law School and received his doctorate in political science from Oxford University. Prior to his position as secretary of state, he was a professor of constitutional law at UMKC. Post 9/11 Kobach was head of design for the National Security Entry-Exit Registration system, a program that has resulted in stronger border security and the apprehension of a number of suspected terrorists.
Martinez-De-Castro works in the Office of Research, Advocacy and Legislation at NCLR, one of the nation’s largest Hispanic advocacy and civil rights organizations. She holds a master’s degree in public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, in addition to having studied diplomacy and world affairs at Occidental College. Martinez-De-Castro’s main areas of expertise are in immigration policy, Latino perspectives, voter mobilization and coalition building.
Katz feels this event topic is a critical one for The Village Square. “Immigration is a defining issue of our time; we all have strong feelings about it. We hope to come together for a fact-based conversation and hope that people will walk away with an understanding of both sides of the issue.”
The Village Square is a vehicle for civic engagement. The organization holds comfortable, casual forums and offers programming that brings people together for face-to-face interactions about polarizing issues facing local communities and the nation. The organizational goal is to engage in dialogue, build connections and seek understanding, even while disagreeing.
Each Village Square chapter has co-chairs from opposite sides of the political aisle. Filling those roles in Kansas City are Mary Bloch, a Democrat on the Missouri side of the state line, and Leawood Mayor Peggy Dunn, a Republican from Kansas. In addition to the local Kansas City chapter, the national Village Square offices have been established at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, with support from the Bloch Family Foundation.