Immigration ideas

Nationally syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette launched the 2008 Veritas Forum on March 26 at the Satellite Student Union. The presentation was the first in a three-day event called “Immigration: It’s Not Just About a Wall.”

The second presentation on March 27 featured a conversation among three panelists: CeCe Lomeli-Perez, a nurse practitioner at Holy Cross Clinic, Antonio Arreguin-Bermudez, a Spanish professor at Chico State University, and Bruce Thornton, a classics professor at Fresno State. Eric Bryant of the Los Angeles Mosaic will wrap up the forum with his presentation entitled “Peppermint-Filled Piñatas: Breaking through Tolerance and Embracing Love” at 7 p.m. today at the Arena Theatre.

Navarrette suggested in his presentation – titled “Back to Where We Started: How Mistakes, Myths and Malice Made a Mess of the Immigration Debate, and How We Can Clean it Up” – that the solution to the immigration debate will be a compromise between left and right views that would probably anger both sides, but give each of them something.

“The solution is going to happen in the middle,” Navarrette said.

“There will be a deal that would provide more enforcement, especially of the border, but also a launching of a conditional pact of amnesty” which would let people come in legally, he said.

He thinks that immigration is one of the best things about this country, despite the many conflicts that it causes.

“It brings in new blood and new ideas,” Navarrette said. “We need to encourage it more.”

During the discussion, he discussted two immigration myths. The first is that people aren’t assimilating to life in America. The second is that when people immigrate here, they are immediately welcomed and there is no conflict. Navarrette said that both are lies and that Americans made many mistakes such as these regarding immigration.

“We made a mess of this debate because emotions lead us and we polarize it and say all or nothing,” he said.

Veritas Forums, from the Latin word for truth – veritas, are organized on college campuses throughout the nation, starting discussions about life’s most complicated questions and the significance of Jesus Christ. Fresno State student Sarah Knepper directs the Fresno forum, while professor Steve Olson acts as the adviser.

Although the immigration issue was not selected at first for this year’s discussion, the group made it this year’s topic while discussing current significant and controversial issues.

“It’s not a two-sided issue,” Knepper said. “You can’t just be pro-immigration or against immigration. It’s not that simple. We all know someone who is an immigrant and that makes things more complex.”

Knepper believes that immigration impacts everybody, whether they know it or not. She herself has a few immigrant friends and has heard their stories about what it’s like attempting to cross the border.

“We need to know more about it and look at all sides of an issue that is not fairly represented in our culture,” Knepper said. “This discussion will hopefully broaden students’ horizons.”

Olson has been the adviser for the group for several years. Although he has been involved with the organization since the beginning, it wasn’t until the previous adviser had to go on sabbatical that he volunteered to be the replacement. On the topic of immigration, he said that he has very mixed feelings.

“It often creates a tension in me because I see this as a very complex issue,” Olson said. “But it’s become so politicized that it’s hard to have a meaningful discussion about the root causes and how to address them.”

He thinks that the illegal immigration issue is causing more and more confusion and divisiveness in the government, and that a government that doesn’t function well is going to be a tremendous drain on society, especially students.

“Since students are the ones who will soon be paying lots of tax dollars into government coffers, they deserve a system that runs efficiently,” Olson said. “Getting the issue resolved will help the government run more efficiently.”

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