Civil Dialogues Town Hall Panel on Immigration Helps Makes Sense of Texas SB4 Whiplash at LBJ Presidential Library

Democracy Initiative Back by Three Presidential Library Foundations Tackles Hot Button Issue as US Supreme Court and 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Weigh In

Authored by Linda Lorelle Media and originally published on

For the three hours or so that more than 100 audience members gathered the night March 22 for a town hall about Texas Senate Bill 4, the controversial immigration law was in effect. By the time they got home, the law was back on hold. It was the latest occurrence in a day of head-spinning, breaking news that continues to give whiplash to all those closely watching how this plays out, including the panel of experts that helped unpack the quickly moving events for an audience hungry to understand what it all means.

Uriel Garcia, an immigration reporter for The Texas Tribune, filed an early afternoon story in El Paso as the US Supreme Court allowed the law to go into effect. He then flew to Austin to join fellow panel members, Stephen Vladeck, Charles Alan Wright Chair in Federal Courts at the University of Texas School of Law; Faye Kolly, Immigration Attorney, McChesney Kolly PLLC; and J. Michael Treviño, Houston Organizer, American Immigration Council. Together, they tackled the topic, "Is There a Path for Immigration Reform in the Aftermath of Senate Bill 4?" The panelists and other experts predict that the US Supreme Court will ultimately determine if SB 4 becomes permanent law. It would empower Texas troopers and other law enforcement officials to arrest, jail and deport migrants suspected of crossing the U.S. southern border without authorization.

Civil Dialogues is a new democracy initiative that launched on February 27th at the Baker Institute in Houston, TX. In partnership with the George & Barbara Bush Foundation, the Clinton Presidential Center and the LBJ Foundation, the series of nationwide town halls seeks to create a safe space for community conversation on some of the most important and contentious topics of the day. The goal is to educate Americans about all sides of difficult issues facing our nation, ensure that participants walk away with a better understanding of the topic's nuances, and that they feel empowered to continue having civil, constructive conversations.

In the 10th Floor Atrium at the LBJ Presidential Library, the evening kicked off with historical context provided by New York Times best-selling author, Jean Becker. The former Chief of Staff to President George H.W. Bush shared stories about the close relationship between her former boss, a Republican, and President Lyndon Baines Johnson, a Democrat.

"It was very impactful for me to take a moment to pause and think about how our political discourse used to look, and to hear more about the ins and outs of the current state of SB4," said Lindsay Gray who attended the town hall.

Becker is co-founder of Civil Dialogues along with Linda Lorelle, Emmy Award-winning journalist and CEO of Linda Lorelle Media. Both graduates of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Becker and Lorelle decided to use their skills, networks, and passion for our democracy to work toward combatting misinformation and bringing us together. Lorelle served as moderator of the town hall.

Throughout this election year, Civil Dialogues will host town halls on a variety of topics across the country at various presidential libraries, policy institutes and other forums to engage and educate Americans as they prepare to vote in November.

To partner with or learn more about Civil Dialogues, including our next scheduled event on June 3rd at the Clinton Presidential Center, go to

Linda Lorelle
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Democracy Initiative Back by Three Presidential Library Foundations Tackles Hot Button Issue as US Supreme Court and 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Weigh In



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