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Students and professors discuss Arizona Immigration Law

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Rodolfo Acuna, Ph.D. speaks with the other panelists at the Justice for all Immigrants Immigration Forum on Thursday at the Matador Square. Photo Credit: Sidhu Vedula / Contributing photographer

A panel comprising professors and students had the opportunity to share its candid thoughts on the recent controversy surrounding the topic of immigration.

MEChA hosted the Immigration Forum Thursday afternoon in the Matador Square. The panel’s roster included Chicano/a studies professors Dr. Rodolfo Acuna and Dr. Jorge Garcia as well as four students.

The forum tackled immigration issues such as the fight for comprehensive immigration reform, the California and Federal DREAM Act, and the recent Arizona bills that have sparked national controversy.

Pedro Trujillo, 21, panel speaker, said the forum’s intent was to educate CSUN students on these compelling topics by initiating a healthy discussion.

“There’s definitely a lack of information,” said Trujillo, Chicano/a studies major. “The media has done a horrible job in presenting the issues to the public. People continue to be in a position of ignorance.”

The forum took place soon after Congress’ recent vetoing of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM), which had immigration advocacy groups up in arms. The legislation proposed granting a six-year citizenship to immigrants under the age of 30 who have lived in the U.S. since before the age of 16. Last month, the Senate voted 56 to 43 against the approving of the bill.

The six panel speakers took turns stating their thoughts and concerns on the subject matter and had little qualms about being frank about the issues at hand.

“The DREAM Act is not perfect, but it would bring relief to people who are hurting,” Acuna said. “We must make compromises, but we must also demand respect.”

Garcia agreed with the idea of compromise, adding that advocacy groups need to continue the quest for reform so that undocumented people living in the country could live their lives however they see fit.

“We need to continue to push that envelope,” he said. “We need to hold each other accountable and challenge each other.”

Carla Zapata, another student panelist for the event, said she thought it was important to disprove the people who feel that undocumented people living in the U.S. are taking the country’s resources.

“Politicians don’t realize that these are hard-working people who are in need of full rights,” said Zapata, Chicano/a studies major. “We need to keep mobilizing and raising awareness.”

The Immigration Forum opened the discussion to students and faculty in the audience, allowing them to share their thoughts and reactions to the subject matter.

Arizona’s recent passage of bills SB 1070 and HB 2281 was also on the agenda for the Immigration Forum.

SB 1070 has made it a crime for immigrants to be in the state without proper documentation on hand at all times and restricts the assistance of undocumented people.

“The Federal Government intervened and put a hold on the execution of the bill so they could do further review,” Trujillo said. “It condones racial profiling and raises questions of constitutionality.”

Another Arizona bill creating controversy and major discussion was HB 2281, which dismantled the teaching of ethnic studies.

“Not too many people care about ethnic studies because they don’t understand it,” Acuna said. “Identity is at the root of this subject. Everyone has a right to it.”

He added that the removal of ethnic studies classes and programs generates a feeling of inferiority in minority students, causing them to lose interest in learning.

“When a person feels inferior, they don’t learn,” Acuna said. “We need to start to fight for what we are. If you wipe out identity, you wipe out what we are.”

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3 Comments

  1. CSUN Student Oct 9, 2010

    I would tend to agree with the two people above me, although I do feel ethnic studies should be taught.

    That said, SB 1070 is not about racial profiling–it is about Arizona protecting its state. There has been a significant amount of violence perpetrated by non-U.S. citizens in that state; Arizona is just trying to protect Arizonans.

    In addition, the DREAM Act is a really bad idea because it takes away spots from qualified Americans (of all ethnicities). If non-American citizens want to attend a public, tax-supported college, they should have to pay out-of-state tuition (I would say international-student tuition, but that’s overkill). In an economic situation such as this one, we should be helping our American citizens first.

  2. Frank Bowers Oct 9, 2010

    To me it sounds as if you have a general meeting of the illegal aliens and they seem to think it is okay to come to our country illegal and reap the benefits of the tax payers, which they are not and have never been, from the prior 220 years. Why did this even get published it is sickening to see the illegals spilling their desires without a tax payers view. the two proffessors were anchors and have no idea of what they speak of. A degree does not make one any smarter when they close the door to honest facts. Frank Bowers

  3. CharlieBarlie Oct 9, 2010

    “so that undocumented people living in the country could live their lives however they see fit.”

    Gee, what about other lawbreakers? Why can’t tax cheats live their lives however they see fit? Let’s amnesty them, too.

    Why just amnesty for people who break into the country–how about home invaders who break into people’s houses? Lots of them are POOR and we have no right to say no to a poor person, eh? They are just breaking into your home or cheating on their taxes in order to deal with their economic problems, so you have to let them live their lives however they see fit.

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