University of Nebraska-Lincoln students and faculty came together Monday evening to examine and discuss the topic of immigration at the Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center.
The conversation, hosted by UNL’s Define American chapter, is part of its ongoing “Dish It Up” series, a collection of talks that have focused on issues such as campus diversity and race relations.
Sociology professor Regina Werum facilitated the conversation Monday, which focused on the topics of immigration and racial justice.
“There is a mythical idea of America as a land of milk and honey where there is opportunity for everyone, free speech and free movement for everyone,” Werum said. “In reality, some people are more equal than others.”
The bulk of the night was spent with UNL students sharing their personal stories of how and why they came to the United States. They also discussed some of the difficulties they faced in that journey and how those compare to the difficulties they still face today.
Students shared many of their frustrations with the current political climate and how they sometimes feel powerless to make a difference. Some of the issues included the belief that the United States is always someone’s first choice to immigrate to, and when people talk broadly about America when they actually mean just the United States, and not Central or South America, which have their own diverse cultures of immigration.
To help show students how they can make a difference, Define American invited Joseline Reyna from Nebraska Appleseed to speak. Nebraska Appleseed is a nonprofit that aims to fight for justice and opportunity for all Nebraskans. Reyna, a junior criminology and criminal justice major, provided students with templates to help them write to their senators, urging them to pass a bill to protect the children affected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
Werum encouraged the students in attendance to keep striving for social change.
“People say that people get what they deserve,” she said. “No, people get what they fight for.”
By Logan Gilchrist for THE DAILY NEBRASKAN
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