Immigration has been a major issue the past few years and a heavy aspect of campaign debates. Yet many college students know very little about the issue of immigration and the daily struggle undocumented Americans face.
Over the years, the number of immigrants living undocumented in this country has only gone up, currently somewhere near 12 million people. These undocumented immigrants who have a homes and jobs here in America live in constant fear of being deported, despite contributing to society by paying taxes. This becomes especially concerning to the four million of those who have U.S. born children.
This week, Jose Antonio Vargas came to Central Connecticut to inform students on the issue of immigration. Vargas is an undocumented immigrant and was arrested in Texas after trying to visit with the children who had entered the country illegally after fleeing the drug gangs of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
Vargas feels that most white and black people do not think that immigration is their battle. They tend to believe that it is something that affects other people. But what they do not realize is that these undocumented people are living amongst us, working legitimate jobs and paying taxes.
There is a peculiar attitude towards these people who are streaming across the border in great numbers. Earlier this year, it was discovered that children were coming across the border and waiting to get arrested, rather than attempt to sneak further into the country.
These children are called “illegal aliens,” which is not only inaccurate in many cases, it is also being substituted for a word that is more accurate.
A better term for these children would be “refugees.” What else would you call anyone driven from their war-torn towns by brutal violence? But this term would make the American public less sensitive to the children’s plight.
Vargas likened the undocumented immigrant issue to the LGBT movement, saying that it needs to start off in the personal lives of people before it moves on to become a political issue.
He started the conversation here at CCSU. Because of his lecture, two students stood up and announced their undocumented status, continuing the employ the method Vargas has taken to give a personal face to the immigration crisis, starting with his when he came out in New York Times Sunday Magazine article in 2011.
Now that Central has opened the conversation on immigration by bringing Vargas here to educate students, it would be well served to continue the movement, especially in a town like New Britain that is heavily populated by families that can trace their roots to immigration, from the nearly quarter Polish population to the growing number of people who claim a Puerto Rican ancestry.
By working closely with the Latin American Student Organization on campus, who co-sponsored Vargas’s visit, as well as other student groups, Central has a chance to educate it’s student population even further on an issue that concerns them all, whether they realize it or not.