‘Immigration Now’: Guest Speakers Discuss Immigration in Troubled Political Climate

Few issues divide the country as much as immigration, making the time ripe for the College of Liberal Arts to host “Immigration Now: Bans, Walls, and Raids”, which presented academia’s take on the divisive topic.

The panelists met in the Foster Auditorium on Thursday night, Oct. 26, and conversed about immigration in the era of Trump.

Speakers included Mariana Ortega, professor of philosophy at John Carroll University; Jacob Lee, assistant professor of History; Melissa W. Wright, professor of Geography; Lise Nelson, associate professor of Women’s Studies and Geography; and Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, clinical professor of Law.

The panel discussed the historical and contemporary immigration trends, the effects of new immigration laws and provisions, and the impact of immigrants in society.

Before the group discussion, the panelists took to the floor individually and debunked myths associated with immigration.

Ortega served as moderator and time-keeper for the speakers’ Powerpoint presentations.

Lee presented first and used his time to discuss the idea that mass immigration and all resultant hostility are new trends, emphasizing the cyclical nature of social problems.

“Many of the debates swirling around us have historical antecedents that help us understand these issues, and perhaps reveal how to confront them,” Lee said.

Jacob decorated his presentation with political cartoons, graphs depicting historical trends of immigration, and photos of artifacts.

“The history of racial, ethnic, and religious exclusion in the U.S. is old,” Lee said. “As old as the United States itself.”

Lee focused on Irish discrimination during the 18th century to foster his point about immigrants being met with resistance and hostility.

Wright elaborated on the complex mechanisms behind immigration, highlighting the role of economic opportunities in drawing or repelling immigrants.

She also lambasted Trump’s border wall, calling it a financial waste, drain on natural resources, and inefficient security measure.

“Border walls do not increase security. They generate a tremendous amount of insecurity,” Wright said.

Wright later advised the audience to visit various natural landmarks that might be impacted by the wall’s construction.

“This wall is going all over the place,” she said. “In real places.”

Wright ended her presentation by addressing the various laws and treaties that will need to be waived for the wall’s building.

Switching to economic matters, Nelson addressed the impacts of immigrants on the economy.

By David Tilli for DAILY COLLEGIAN
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