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Panel sparks conversation on immigration in the United States

Panel sparks conversation on immigration in the United States

Photo courtesy of Melanie Haid / The Hofstra Chronicle

Immigration, a multifaceted issue and a topic of recent controversy throughout the nation, was the primary focus of discussion during the Immigration and Deportation panel held at Hofstra on Wednesday, Sept. 26. 

Emily Ngara, the attorney-in-charge of the Deportation Defense Clinic at Hofstra’s Maurice A. Deane School of Law; Saul Guerrera, a labor organizer at United Food and Commercial Workers International Union and David Dysseggaard Kallick, the deputy director and the director of Immigration Research at the Fiscal Policy Institute shared insight on the controversy surrounding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), family separations and deportation. 

“Refugees admitted [to the United States] has dropped to 20,000 a year,” Kallick said. He noted that immigration is more diverse than most realize and is a vital part of the nation’s identity. “America has a long history of being a leader in welcoming immigrants, especially refugees and asylees.”

The speakers presented facts and personal anecdotes on topics of refugees and asylees, labor trends and the struggle that many face trying to gain citizenship into the United States. 

Noel Mahabir, a junior criminology and political science major, emphasized a need to focus on immigration in today’s society. 

“Immigration is extremely important and [the impact] it has on actual people that are going into the country [is often overlooked],” Mahabir said. 

Guerrera points out that most unions support all immigrants. “Unions don’t look at workers [for] whether they’re documented or undocumented. Our job is to make sure everyone has dignity and is respected in the workplace,” Guerrera said. 

Junior criminology major Rosh Lall agrees. “As we are shown, refugees and immigrants are a very integral part of our society,” he said. “They have filled a soon-gaping hole and it’s sad to realize what is going to happen if we build a wall.”

Kayla Grace, a sophomore political science major, felt that the lecture highlighted the importance of understanding that this is an “overall issue, not just a Republican or Democrat issue.” Grace said that policies are certainly necessary but need to be more consistent. 

 “Now everyone is a removable priority,” Ngara said. “Getting here legally is actually very limited.” 

Rosemary Gomez, a junior psychology and pre-med major, is personally aware of the impact of American immigration laws. 

“I am a daughter of immigrants. I have been born with the knowledge that immigrants come to this country and do what most people do,” Gomez said. “They work, they go to school and just try to live a normal life. We’re all human.”

 “Immigration is much more diverse than we often realize,” Kallick said. 

“These people should get a second chance,” said Senia Alfaro, a junior political science major. “It would be the fair thing to do.” 

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