Immigration Activist to Speak at W&J College

Created: September 25, 2019  |  Last Updated: December 2, 2019  |  Category:   |  Tagged:

WASHINGTON, PA (Sept. 25, 2019) – Presbyterian minister John Fife, an activist and advocate for the humane treatment of immigrants and reform of border security policies, will speak at Washington & Jefferson College on Tuesday, Oct. 1. The event is free and open to the public.

Rev. Fife, a 1962 W&J alumnus, will present “Border Security: Testing Our Basic Values” in the Dieter-Porter Life Sciences Building at 7 p.m. The talk will focus on how border security policy and its implementation challenge societal values.

“Rev. Fife is a staunch human rights advocate, and he actively supports humanitarian efforts for those seeking refuge,” said Jason Kilgore, Ph.D., professor of biology at W&J. “This is an opportunity for our students and the community to learn from his work and engage in an important national discussion.”

In the 1980s Rev. Fife co-founded the Sanctuary Movement in which more than 500 churches and synagogues provided protection, in public, and nonviolent resistance to Federal authorities for Central American refugees fleeing violence in their homelands. In the following decade, with a continuing emphasis on social justice issues, he served as the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

In response to increasing numbers of deaths of immigrants in the Sonoran Desert, Rev. Fife then co-founded Tucson Samaritans | Los Samaritanos and No Más Muertes | No More Deaths to provide humanitarian aid, document effects of border security policies, and end death and suffering in the Mexico—US borderlands through civil initiative.

For each of the past two years, W&J students have worked with Rev. Fife through Dr. Kilgore’s JayTerm course, Engaging the Sonoran Border. The course takes students to Arizona to study border policy from every angle. They engage with law enforcement officers, humanitarians, indigenous peoples, and those who experience border life every day to learn about the issue. The JayTerm 2019 class created the Borderlands exhibit in the Clark Family Library upon its return to share what they learned during their trip. Kilgore said he’s glad for the opportunity to share Rev. Fife’s lifelong work with the W&J and greater Washington, Pa. communities.

Rev. Fife will be on campus Sept. 30 through Oct. 2. Outside of his public lecture, he will spend time in classrooms discussing border policy and related issues with students and faculty.

About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.