Story By Erin Gutzwiller
The issues of illegal immigration and racism have long been topics of spirited discussion. And the issues have not disappeared in the last few years, and in fact have only been growing into more of a flash point.
Bridgewater College welcomed three speakers who talked to the students and faculty members about these two issues and fueled some with fire and disagreements. On Feb. 21, Dan Stein and Enrique Morones engaged in an intense debate about immigration in which the two did not hold back any secrets about how they felt about each other. And then on Feb. 28, Damali Ayo spoke about race relations and her view on race in America.
Immigration is referred to as the movement of people between countries, and illegal immigration is any foreigner who illegally residents inside an international boarder. Dan Stein is the president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, known as FAIR. Stein became involved in FAIR in 1992 and says that the main purpose of FAIR is to “advance the public understanding of immigration in the 21st century.” The group works to find a solution to ensure Americans that the United States is a nice and safe place to live. Stein spoke against immigration and believes that “restricting immigration is a matter of national security and economic stability.” In order for the United States to live without the fear of terrorism, he says, immigration needs to end, because we can not stop terrorism if we do not control our borders. Stein brings to attention that if we do not know who is coming into our country, then how do we know that they are truly here to be a decent American citizen?
If immigrants continue to enter into the United States, we will become an overcrowded society, says Stein. He points out that the housing stock and roads will become too crowded, and there is not a transportation system to handle the overpopulation. He states that “immigration is running contrary to all the other objectives we are trying to achieve as a nation.” He believes that the United States system has no creditability with the border control.
As Stein debated against immigrants coming into our country, Morones argued his view on the issue as an open-borders advocate. Morones is the founder of the humanitarian organization Boarder Angels, which gives support and aid to migrant workers along the United States and Mexican border. Born in San Diego, he is now recognized as one of the 100 most influential Latinos in the USA by Hispanic Business Magazine.
Morones brings up a very good point about immigration; he says we take and use drugs, land and fuel from the same people that we do not even let come into the country. Morones wants people to realize that we Americans need the workers to work in the factories and other places. He believes that the immigrants that cross into the United States should have a pathway to become a legal citizen in the U.S. He points out that there is no line; “one-third of immigrants come here illegally, and their visas expire, and two-thirds do not even qualify for visas.”
Today Morones volunteers in the area of human rights and continues to live by the scripture passage from Matthew 25:35: “When I was hungry did you give me to eat, when I was thirsty did you give me to drink.”
As immigration into the United States remains a problem we face, so does racism. Since 1926, we have recognized February as Black History Month, remembering the important people and events that have occurred in history in the African American race. In honor of Black History Month, Damali Ayo spoke on Bridgewater’s campus last month. She has been fighting racism since 1976 and works to educate people about race today. She wants people to realize that they can change things in society and wants them to see the perspectives on the world in which we live and their position in it.
Her book, How to Rent a Negro, looks at race relations in a comical and humorous tone. Her book won the 2005 Honorably Mention in the Outstanding Book Awards from the Gustavus Meyers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights.
Ayo speaks in hopes of making the people of society truly think about race, language used between people, and the prejudice of racism. Stein and Morones also speak to the same audience informing us of the pros and cons of the thousands of immigrants coming into the United States. As history continues to change and shape the culture in which we live, immigration and racism will continue to haunt us and separate us into different classes of society. The speakers spoke about what we can do as people of society to try to end immigration and racism.
Erin Gutzwiller is an intern at Augusta Free Press.