Humanities Institute

Fall 2013 Difficult Dialogues Public Forum Focuses on Immigration

Tue, November 12, 2013
Fall 2013 Difficult Dialogues Public Forum Focuses on Immigration

The Fall 2013 Difficult Dialogues Public Forum brought together two scholars and a student activist to discuss “Immigration, Education, and the Dream Act.”

Professor Rob Crosnoe (Sociology and Psychology) opened the evening with a presentation explaining the demographic and subsequent social policy implications of immigration. Crosnoe highlighted the importance of attending to “the children in the crowd.” He explained “the immigrant paradox:” research indicating that, contrary to commonly held opinions, first-generation immigrant children often exhibit fewer “at-risk” behaviors than their peers, and, despite an initial lag in school performance, quickly catch up to their U.S.-born classmates. Investing in the education of these students benefits U.S. society as a whole, he stated.

Professor Barbara Hines, co-director of the UT School of Law Immigration clinic, followed. At this time, there are eleven million unauthorized immigrants in the United States. Given this reality, what should our public policy towards immigration be? Hines outlined a brief history of federal attempts to address immigration policy, including the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy put into effect in 2012. According to Hines, one of the shortfalls of DACA is the failure to provide a path for permanent residence or citizenship. The lack of immigration policy reform means that the problems of unauthorized immigration will continue.

Marco Malagón, a senior at UT-Dallas and President of the North Texas Dream Team, gave an impassioned presentation about his experiences as an unauthorized immigrant and student. “Who puts a label on you,” he asked the audience, peeling the label from a bottle of water to illustrate his point. “You determine who you are.”

Small group dialogues followed the presentations, led by students from Professor Suzanne Seriff’s Difficult Dialogues Seminar, “Immigration and Community Engagement.”

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