The Multicultural Center will host a panel discussion entitled, “Which Way Forward for the Immigrant Rights Struggle?” today at 7 p.m. at the MCC Theater, opening the way for discussion on American immigration legislation and reform.
Discussion panelists include Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Human Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, Robert Lovato, co-founder of presente.org, Gloria Campos, co-chair of UCSB I.D.E.A.S. and DREAM scholar and William Robinson, moderator of the event, as well as a sociology and global and international studies professor. The panelists will discuss the current state of immigrant rights in the U.S., as well as recent anti-immigrant laws and the possibility of upcoming Congressional debates surrounding reform legislation.
Anti-immigrant laws passed over the last few years have increased public concern about the 11 to 12 million undocumented immigrant workers potentially becoming more vulnerable to civil and human rights violations. Executive MCC Programmer Ruby Mojarro said the speakers selected will convey the importance of solving the problems at hand.
“This will be an informative discussion on immigrant rights that looks beyond the basic pro-reform and anti-reform,” Mojarro said. “It will analyze the benefits and faults in immigrant reform legislation.”
According to Mojarro, the panel discussion will represent both sides of the spectrum, and speakers were chosen based on their knowledge and dedication to the issues.
“Professor William Robinson assisted us in finding speakers that are very well informed on two different sides of the immigrant rights debate, and we wanted a DREAM scholar to be able to give a student perspective on this issue,” Mojarro said. “Both Angelica Salas and Roberto Lovato are very well-known figures in this debate, as they are leaders of organizations that deal with immigrant rights.”
Robinson said immigration reform is one of the most urgent and pressing issues in the American political sphere. He said the goal of the panel is to bring these issues to the attention of the community.
“While all four of us panelists are on the same side, in the sense that we are all trying to push for the rights of immigrants and build a movement in support of that legislation, we are going to have a debate because the immigrant rights movement is somewhat divided,” Robinson said. “There have been bills drafted and sent to Congress, and some of us support these bills, and others don’t support them. We’ll debate why.”
Lovato said his decision to participate in the discussion is due to his belief that the current political stance on immigration is exactly the opposite of progress.
“Doing whatever we can for the 11 million undocumented people living and working in the U.S. is paramount — something we should all work to do,” Lovato said. “I want to participate because in order to get real immigration reform, we need real truth — something utterly lacking in what gets called ‘comprehensive immigration reform.’”
The different perspectives expressed in the debate will be due to divisions of support for current immigration reform legislation, according to Robinson. He said the United Nations and Amnesty International have both condemned the U.S. for its treatment of immigrants, as it violates human and civil rights.
“Some of us don’t support because they involve the increased militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border, and it would become so restricting that it would be impossible for immigrants to be legalized and gain citizenship,” Robinson said. “I would like to see that comprehensive immigrant reform legislation is approved, and that it includes a path of legalization for all and eventually citizenship for all.”
Lovato said the panel will help clarify the many dimensions surrounding the immigration issue, as well as related legislation.
“I hope people attending the discussion understand that ‘immigration reform’ means more than a colossal, complex law covering everything and everyone in immigration — much more,” Lovato said. “As with the government shutdown, the ability to solve our massive problems through Congressional action does not exist.”
The event is sponsored by the Center for New Racial Studies, the Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies, the Department of Sociology, El Congreso, UCSB I.D.E.A.S., the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center and Radio Xicana. Admission is free and attendees are encouraged to arrive early for seating.
A version of this article appeared on page 3 of Thursday October 17th’s print edition of theDaily Nexus.