Roundtable History

The Immigration Policy Reform Roundtable had its beginnings as the Immigrant Rights Working Group which held meetings throughout 2009-2012. Whitney Vanderwerff Sr., Adamou Mohamed, and Steve Sumerford were among the early facilitators.

The IRT's first public program, "Follow the Money," was presented at a Lunch with The League Meeting in 2011 and featured Addy Jeffrey of the Latino Community Coalition and Lori Fernald Khamala, then with American Friends Service Committee.  


From 2016-2018, the IRT hosted several public forums that addressed the crisis at the Southwest U.S. border, including the inhumane separation of children from their families, and the legal and policy obstacles facing DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients and other immigrants.  Other public events sponsored by the IRT include:

November 5, 2018: "Forbidden; Undocumented and Queer in Rural American" at Curry Auditorium, UNCG. Co-sponsored by UNCG School of Dance, Award-winning independent documentary film featuring the life and work of activist Moises Serrano and the film's director and producer Tiffany Rhynard.

April 3, 2019: “War on Immigrants? What's Going On?" At First Friends Meeting. Panelists Emily P. Estrada, David Long, Diya Abdo.

September 5, 2019: “Who Benefits from the War on Immigrants?” Follow the money into the immigration incarceration complex and learn how profit and non-profit companies across the U.S. benefit from detaining immigrants and refugees.  At College Park Baptist Church. Panelists Dr. Felicia Arrigia, Appalachian State University; Alissa Ellis, American Civil Liberties Union of NC; and P. Whitney Vanderwerff, independent researcher and moderator. Audience member Dilsey Davis contacted the Roundtable and subsequently produced a documentary short for Independent Television Service which provides content to PBS.

November 19, 2019: “Immigration: Policies and Possibilities."  Part of LWVPT Lunch with the League series at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. Speakers Jeremy McKinney, then Vice President American Immigration Lawyers Association, and Dr. Fabrice Lehoucq, Professor of Political Science, UNCG.

February 22, 2021: “Immigration Policy After the Election: What Lies Ahead?"  A recorded Zoom program presented by Jeremy McKinney, featuring a taped interview with DACA recipients Guillermo and Jonathan Vargas, ICU nurses at Wake Baptist. The brothers were featured on BBC's "The World" which was picked up by social and broadcast media worldwide.  

January 25, 2022: "Welcoming New Afghan Neighbors in the Triad: Advocacy and Community Support." The IRT joined with several partner agencies to present a recorded Zoom event regarding the Afghan refugees being relocated in the Triad.  In the wake of the departure of American military from Afghanistan, Megan Shepard and Maria Cortez-Perez of Church World Service of Greensboro provided historical background and information about community efforts to welcome Afghan families.  An Afghan refugee, whose name was withheld for security reasons, shared his personal story.


IRT members worked with Saint Barnabas Episcopal Church congregants and clergy to support Sanctuary for Juana Ortega, including advocacy and on-site visits.

With leadership from Ann Marie Dooley of McKinney Immigration and Faith Action International House, IRT members visited immigrants unjustly detained at Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia and helped achieve the release of a person now working and living in Greensboro with his family.