Event addresses immigration issues

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Saint Louis University students educated themselves on matters of immigration reform at Monday’s One World Event in the Center for Global Citizenship.

With the growing national concern over the immigration system and the pressing comprehensive immigration reform bill, SLU’s One World Magazine appropriately chose this time to host an interactive presentation concerning the different perspectives of immigration reform.

“We thought it was really important to bring this conversation to SLU on a local level because it has been so hotly debated, and October has actually been deemed ‘Immigration Month’,” stated One World Magazine Campaign Director Anna Dore. “Although the government shut-down has kind of taken over the news, the immigration reform is still very much a pressing issue, and we wanted to emphasize that we need to keep the conversation going about it.”

The goal of the event was to educate students on the comprehensive immigration reform on a more local, national and global level.

It included insight from six different speakers’ perspectives, so as to promote the most unbiased presentation on the subject as possible.

Students heard from a politician, human rights activist, border patrol agent, local enforcement officer, church leader and an economist. These perspectives all discussed the current state of immigration in the U.S. while providing their own personal opinions on the issue.

“We wanted to cover all sides of the issue, but the issue of immigration is so complex that it is hard to have a 45 minute conversation about it,” stated Dore. “Although the different perspectives were all different, what they all had in common was that reform to the immigration system is necessary.”

The One World editorial team had researched these different sector perspectives and used this information to create short monologues for the speakers, which highlighted the different viewpoints on the topic.

“We kept [the monologues] short enough to keep people’s attention and simple enough so that everyone could understand the perspectives,” said One World Editor-in-Chief Mary Shannon. “We tried to make it so that the person speaking was emphatically trying to feel what that person would feel. So individually, there were certain opinions, but together the spectrum of them was as unbiased as we possibly could have presented them.”

Students who attended the presentation were also able to interact with the topic through an activity in which they were invited to mark their ancestral history on a large map, so as to provide a representation that conveyed the message of worldwide immigration.

“We all have a history of immigration in our blood, but what brings us all here?” asked Shannon. One World wanted to encourage their audience to consider this question when regarding immigration reform.

The end of the presentation was possibly the most insightful part of all, however, as 16-year-old high school student Naomi presented her viewpoint on the topic.

Naomi is an undocumented immigrant, but through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) she was able to receive a social security number in order to attend high school.

Naomi’s DACA standing, however, is set to expire in November — at which point she must reapply for this to see whether or not she will be able to stay in the United States.

“I think everybody was really able to relate to her the most,” said Shannon, “because even though she speaks fluent English, studies with her peers [and] has dreams of her own, she can’t go to college [in the U.S.].”

The One World Event was a stepping stone in their “Be an Informed” campaign, as this event was specifically targeted towards being an informed American and was shaped around their message of being more aware of our nation’s issues.

The immigration reform presentation included feedback postcards on the seats of all of the attendees, and One World reporting having received a lot of positive commentary.

The editorial team hopes to create another meaningful event for next semester.