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Maria Hinojosa – example of what an immigrant can do if given the opportunity

     In an attempt to keep the dialogue on immigration fresh on our minds and as a reminder of our gospel's call to walk with those in need of warmth, compassion and understanding, our Catholic Institutions of Higher Education are beacons of hope.

     On November 7, Loyola University, Chicago Campus, sponsored a two-day free conference, "Chicago Catholic Immigrants Conference: The Mexicans." I could only attend the Friday night keynote speaker event. It was an honor to hear Maria Hinojosa, an immigrant, a Mexican, speak of her life as an immigrant, as a young girl raised in Chicago who went on to study and graduate magna cum laude from Barnard College.

     I have followed Maria's career since 1992 when she started a radio program called "Latino USA." She has been its host for its 20 year run and is now the executive producer. She is also the executive producer of "America by the Numbers with Maria Hinojosa." She was the first Latina to anchor a Frontline report on PBS, "Lost in Detention, a documentary exploring the issues of deportation and immigrant detention."

     Maria has won numerous awards, among them: 4 Emmy's, including one in 2012 for her coverage of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism, the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for reporting onThe Disadvantaged, the Studs Terkel Community Media Award, and the Edward R. Murrow Award from the Overseas Press Club. She is the author of two books: "Raising Raul: Adventures Raising Myself and My Son and Crews" and "Gang Members Talk With Maria Hinojosa."

     Maria's latest endeavor is a documentary series on PBS, "America By The Numbers." She explores the underreported stories across the nation of the biggest population change in U.S. history. The growing number of Asians, Latinos, African Americans, mixed-race immigrants, women, youth, and LGBT, are all interviewed by Maria in this series. This series airs on the WORLD channel and PBS. For more information visit: www.americabythe numbers.org.

     Today, in our immigration situation, Maria would be considered a "Dreamer", those children and youth who were brought here to the U.S. by their parents. They were raised in this country and know only this country as theirs. Maria is an example of what can happen when opportunity is afforded to a young person to be everything they can be. The "Dreamers" of today need an opportunity to show who they can be and contribute their gifts to this great country.

     Adeline Torres is director of the Office of Hispanic Ministry. This is the English version of the column that appeared in Spanish in the Northwest Indiana Catholic print edition dated Dec. 7, 2014. 

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