Professors address the complexities of immigration

Pi Sigma Alpha, Wake Forest’s Politics Honor Society, hosted a panel discussion on Oct. 19, examining current issues about immigration in U.S. politics.

The discussion featured professors Betina Wilkinson and Peter Siavelis.

Siavelis explained that as a country, U.S. citizens have lost touch with the purpose of public policy. There is constant debate over different issues, but the debate has gradually become detached from an actual issue at hand. Siavelis elucidated that many immigrants, especially those from Mexico, come because of incentives seen in the U.S.  These include higher wages, political freedom, family connections, policies and opportunities for advancement. All of these things make this country desirable. These incentives are the reasons why a wall, such as the one proposed by the Trump administration, will not stop immigration.

Wilkinson began by identifying the root of all immigration issues: Sept. 11, 2001. This terrorist attack opened our nation’s leaders eyes to the potential dangers in not having more security. Some acts that came out of this tragedy included the Patriot Act and the Department of Homeland Security. Over time, our policies have gotten tighter, and as a result, immigration has slowly turned more into a racial profiling problem more than anything else.

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As the panelists discussed, “hysteria comes from ignorance.” It’s common to see two people start arguing about politics and question the emotions and morals of the other party. This is because we are living in a time where emotions are running high, and oftentimes we have trouble separating our views from morals because of the extreme gap between political parties and ideologies today. However, despite the struggles that arise when discussing political views, there are so many important conversations to be had, especially among young people.

“It affects everyone in some way,” said freshman Krista Bradley. “[Immigration] has an influence on our economy, how people interact with each other, stereotypes and representation.”

Freshman Savarni Sanka, who is the child of immigrant parents, echoed the importance of focusing on immigration: “[Immigrants] are people who live among us and live with us. Discussion is the first step to understanding their situations and why they’re here, and there’s so much misunderstanding about it in this toxic political climate.”

The panel and student reactions emphasized that change will not come if not for conversations and debate, no matter how hard they may be and that it is up to the new generation voters to try their best to be educated, tolerant, and open to learning more about our nation’s politics and our neighbor’s views.

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