Monday, October 4, 2010

The Immigration Problem at its Roots

I attended a seminar on immigration to America on October 8th. In the past I have had few experiences with the border crisis with Mexico but have a general understanding of the poverty there. I completed a service trip building houses in Mexico and spent a week there this summer on vacation. However, even on the resort the conditions of the surrounding areas were easily visible. While I was swimming in pools and eating at an all-inclusive hotel people within five miles were drinking malarial water and going hungry. My experiences with the country have shown me how fortunate I am to live in a wealthy area and how poor certain regions are. After learning about Mexican living conditions and witnessing it personally I was interested to see what stance the seminar would take on immigration.

When I arrived at the room where the lecture would soon take place there was only standing room left. After talking to those around me for a few minutes as we waited for the speaker to arrive, I found many different perspectives on the immigration situation. Many considered immigration to be destroying the American Dream as it is eating away at the infrastructure meant for actual citizens. Others believed that immigration laws should be changed to help more immigrants arrive safely and legally rather than having them hop fences or travel across deserts, risking their lives. After considering the question to myself I was not sure what to think. Although I know that something has to be done to better the Mexican quality of life, I was just not sure if coming to America was the solution.

On his arrival the speaker began a quick introduction and launched into the topic. After quickly explaining the different views for what to do with the problem of immigration, both for and against, he explained his own underlying perspective. Mr. Nebot directed a movie related to the immigration problem which followed the story of a man from Honduras who sought the American dream after a hurricane destroyed his house and family. Left with nothing, the man began a slow movement through multiple countries in order to find a new beginning after his life’s work was destroyed. The man’s fate was similar to those whose livelihoods were smashed in Hurricane Katrina and who then immigrated out to different cities. However, while those people were allowed to evacuate the danger zone and find a new life legally, the man from Honduras had to break the law and fight against both his environment and the government.

Mr. Nebot did not push for simply greater amounts of legal immigration alone but rather sought to instill in his listeners a greater understanding of the situation in foreign countries. He addressed the poverty and unfairness of life in other regions of the world in order to show us why people immigrate. His presentation, rather than pushing for a viewpoint, explained the cause of the initial problem. By adopting the Humanitarian perspective that he prescribed people on both sides of the issue can realize what is occurring and its unfair nature. However, people are still justified in making their own decisions from that point as long as it is agreed that something must be done to remedy the situation, whether that be building infrastructures in less wealthy nations or allowing in people from other countries into our own.

Mr. Nebot’s thesis holds parallels with the poem “God’s Grandeur” by Gerard Manley Hopkins. In Hopkins’ work the world is covered in the evilness of humanity in direct challenge to the ideas of beauty and freedom. Mr. Nebot’s explanation of the inequality faced by millions of people in Mexico and South America who seek to immigrate to find a better life is similar to this idea as it shows the way things should be lived and the way they actually are. However, both show signs of hope. While God’s Power shines through and protects the attacked world, so can the Humanitarian Perspective fight for the rights of the unfortunate in different areas of the globe. The power in both cannot be denied, it just needs to be applied.

My experience listening to Mr. Nebot’s presentation reconfirmed the thoughts I had going into his lecture but also gave me additional points of view to cite. My time in Mexico showed me the fact of global economic inequality and the idea that something must to be done to better the living conditions of the poor. However, his story of the immigrant from Honduras bore such strong ties to the stories of Americans displaced during Hurricane Katrina that the social worth of his case could not be denied. The presentation was a positive experience that reinforced my thoughts on the humanitarian crisis that is tied directly to the question of what to do with immigration.

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