I Stand with Immigrants Day of Action

Area activists join panel discussion on campus

October 28 marks the annual I Stand with Immigrants College and University Day of Action. The Office for the Common Good, Division for Inclusion and Equity, and Student Diversity Board collaborated to bring students and faculty together to hear from South Bend immigrant and refugee advocates.

In Spes Unica Hall, guests enjoyed a vegan lunch catered by A Bite with Mee while listening to a panel of three local immigrant and refugee professionals. Andrea Cramer, Rudy Monterrosa, and Annie Maguire ’20 held a discussion to shed light on their own experiences with immigrants and how they support this community in their day-to-day lives. Their presentations were followed by a Q&A session.

The guests who spoke at the panel discussionAndrea Cramer is the founder and executive director of Neighbor to Neighbor, a nonprofit that supports local refugees and migrants via relationships, education, and advocacy. A native of South Bend, she reflected on her experience of moving to Waco, Texas and being introduced to the lives of refugees and immigrants when her 4-year-old son saw a photo in a magazine and began asking her questions like “what are refugees,” and “how can we help?”. She brought her first-hand knowledge back to South Bend to start Neighbor to Neighbor in order to forge relationships among the immigrant and non-immigrant population. One of her biggest accomplishments, she said, was reaching a successful legal settlement with the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles to translate its driver’s manual into five languages, allowing non-English citizens to apply for their driver’s license.

Rodolfo “Rudy” S. Monterrosa, Jr. is the founding attorney of the Monterrosa Law Group, LLC and has been practicing criminal and immigration law for 20 years. As part of the I Stand with Immigrants panel, his foundational passion for helping immigrants stems from his upbringing. His father immigrated from El Salvador and his mother from Mexico. He touched on policies and the variety of reasons people come to the United States, mentioning his father was seeking protection from the civil war in El Salvador, and his mother’s desire for a better life.

Annie Maguire ’20 earned the Saint Mary’s College Spirit of Service Award in 2019 and the Lumen Christi Award in 2020 in part for her time volunteering at La Casa de Amistad in South Bend, where she now works full time. She credits her four years at Saint Mary’s for her ability to pursue a non-profit career saying, “With the support of the faculty and staff, I felt empowered to pursue something that is pretty uncommon for a lot of graduates. Overall, I felt the courage to take a chance at doing something that I know mattered, knowing full well that it’s not something that I would get paid a lot for. The things I would gain from this experience are so much richer and deeper than that. Saint Mary’s showed me the true value of working in something you’re passionate about, and how doing so can fulfill you.”

The panelists say volunteering your time and efforts is the best way to support immigrants and refugees. To learn more about Neighbor to Neighbor, visit n2nsb.com and to learn more about La Casa de Amistad, visit lacasadeamistad.org.

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