Immigration forum discusses foreign, domestic viewpoints

Marissa Mendel

Students, faculty, local residents and visiting scholars discovered last night the variety of viewpoints others hold on the topic of immigration.

Twenty-five participants met in the Student Center for a forum on immigration, part of the Gerald H. Read Distinguished Lecture Series.

The forum began with the showing of the video The New Challenge of American Immigration: What should we do?

The film gave an overview of three different approaches people take to the issue of immigration in the United States.

Kim Sebaly, associate professor of educational foundations and special services, led group introductions and asked everyone to share their thoughts on the topic.

Many people said they are not against immigration in general.

“Our concern isn’t about immigration. Our concern is illegal immigration,” said Dennis Pike, investigator for Ohio Homeland Security.

Pike, who emphasized that he was not speaking on behalf of the state, said his concern is the victimization of illegal immigrants in the country.

“We are, in a sense, developing a whole other race of slaves, so to speak,” Pike said. “Because these people who are coming across illegally are afraid to come forward, and people can victimize them all they want and what are they going to do about it? Because they’re afraid if they say something they’re going to be shipped back.”

Many people wondered how the next president will deal with this issue.

“We have to hope that our next leader really takes that issue and grabs it by the horns,” said Bill Wilson, professor emeritus from the College of Education said.

Area residents who attended were interested to hear the perspectives of the international scholars and students at the forum.

Mary Chan, Fulbright visiting scholar, told the group about the problems illegal immigration has recently caused in her home country of Malaysia.

“Since these illegal immigrants have been coming, the crime rate in Malaysia has skyrocketed,” Chan said. “The Malaysian government is trying its best to overcome this problem by enforcing stricter rules.”

Linda Robertson, director for the Center for International and Intercultural Education and the coordinator of the event, said she was pleased with the turnout and quality of discussion.

“It was extremely successful on account of the cold weather,” Robertson said.

“We had people from businesses, from personal interest, international students and scholars who all shared their perspectives.”

Contact international affairs reporter Marissa Mendel at [email protected].