More than 40 students discussed why immigration is viewed as a problem in the United States and how this “problem” can be solved during Monday’s R.E.A.L Conversation discussion.
In “Justice or Just Us? The Immigration Question,” students addressed and attacked the plethora of methods suggested by legislators for reducing immigration. Participants also offered their own solutions.
“I think we should make the immigration process easier,” freshman David Glidden said. “In that, I mean that we should remove the red tape and unnecessary points of the immigration process. For instance, immigrants are required to pass immigration tests with questions about the United States, when many Americans couldn’t even answer these questions.”
One participant suggested that the United States give humanitarian aid to countries so that people will not feel the need to immigrate to the United States; another attacked one politician’s proposal to build a wall along the country’s southern border.
“In dealing with immigration, I was reading something that challenged the U.S. to build a 700-mile wall and see who’s going to be there to build it,” junior Gabrielle Bass said. “Most workers in construction are immigrants. I know I’m not going to start building a wall that is going to keep my cousins out. I just won’t do it.”
Students also rejected the idea of forging a stronger national identity through the implementation of a national language.
“Making English the national language will be the downfall of the United States in this increasingly globalized society,” sophomore Amanda Roach said.
Grace Henry, assistant director of the Student Activities Center, said the discussion was meant to provide broad-based information about the immigration issue.
Henry gave a powerpoint presentation that addressed the number of illegal immigrants in the United States Thirty percent of immigrants are here illegally, she said.
She said contrary to what people believe, Americans do not directly compete with illegal immigrants for jobs. The jobs immigrants usually take are low-wage, low- skill positions.
In addition to the discussion, students watched a video clip that addressed why immigration has become such a pressing issue in America and speculated on some of the views Americans hold towards immigrants.
“(The speaker in the video clip) tries to make it sound like people are coming here looking for handouts,” senior Simon Hernandez said. “People don’t come here to seek charity from the United States; they give back as part of the system.”