We call it the First Amendment Room. It’s a large gathering space on the first floor of the Democrat and Chronicle. Its windows form the corner of our building at Main St. and N. Clinton Ave. The room’s namesake is displayed in big letters across one wall, serving as a constant reminder that what we do here is more than a job. A free press, guaranteed by the First Amendment, is essential to democracy.
But it is hardly the only crucial component. A thriving democracy requires many other things, including citizen participation. The First Amendment is part of the reason Americans don’t have to think twice about publicly joining together to develop ideas and seek change from government.
That’s why we often open the First Amendment room doors and invite people in to talk about government and politics, societal challenges, and potential solutions to some of our community’s most pressing issues. We have hosted deep discussions about racism, poverty, economic development, education, the federal budget and more.
On Saturday, Nov. 23, we will be doing it again.
The issue: Immigration
Earlier this year, we published a story about three siblings — Felix, Paola and Gonzalo. They are young, in their twenties, but working 12-hour days, six or seven days a week. They live close, but rarely see each other. They never visit their family members, including Paolo’s two young daughters, left behind in Mexico.
They are undocumented immigrants who are critical to our region’s dairy industry, but virtually invisible to the rest of us. They live in and contribute to America, but do not enjoy its freedoms.
From Upstate New York, to the Mexican border, immigration is a complex and divisive issue that touches on our security, economy and humanity.
Immigration reform is clearly needed, but policymakers in Washington, DC, are stuck in partisan deadlock.
By Julie Philipp for DEMOCRAT & CHRONICLE
Read Full Article HERE