Students and professors discuss Arizona Immigration Law

Angela Melero

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.”