On the night of February 1, 2017 at 7pm a group of courageous individuals met on behalf of the students of Graceland University, and the surrounding community of Lamoni, IA. This Town Hall meeting pertained to the current state of immigration and thereby the relations between the US and, namely, middle eastern countries, and Mexico. Five speakers were in attendance. This is what they had to say:
Paul Beck Ph.D, an economics professor at Graceland University, talked about immigration from an economic vantage. One point he made clear in reference to illegal immigrants stealing US jobs, was, “No, that’s not the case.” He then went to say “Evidence indicates immigrants have a positive effect on economic growth.” Overall, his stance is overwhelmingly for immigration, noting that, “We have more economic growth BECAUSE of immigrants.” The underlying idea that the US’ economy might go through turmoil with a possible lack of immigrant workers.
Next, former U.S. representative Leonard Boswell spoke to the political side of immigration. He started out with a nostalgic look into his past, enveloping the audience in the idea of a real world politician, immersed within the community. He notes, “I’m 83 so I have a lot to be thankful for,” and then goes on to stress the need for hard work in our future to get things on track for the generations to come. The democratic representative highlights the necessity for the two parties to band together, for the road ahead is a long one.
Adam Martin Ph.D, professor of political sciences at Graceland University, was next to bat, reviewing the ethics behind immigration and the effect it plays on human rights. Martin exclaims that the U.S. has an “identity problem” insisting that in this outburst, we are trying to find ourselves. He later goes on in support of immigration, saying “they are just like the rest of us.”
To further respond to ethical issues at hand, Raquel Moreira-Portilho Ph.D spoke on the topic of culture and how it was affected by immigration. She starts off by bashing the idea of America as a melting pot, destroying this notion with “saying we are a nation of immigrants is misleading” and “it’s mistaken that the U.S. is welcoming to foreigners. It’s NOT.” This is not a new idea. This is not new information. From generation to generation, it’s been overwhelmingly clear that the United States is not the open-armed Lady Liberty it had promised, but more of a closed off and cold testament to the blood and sweat of the oppressed.
Wrapping up the speakers, Kansas City police chief Bob Cuel stepped up to discuss from a criminal justice perspective. In recent years, tensions between law enforcement officials and citizens have risen, and a lack of trust has grown from it. Bob states “Because we love people…All peoples, we enforce the rules.” He goes on to say that these rules are changing and evolving as society defers from what the norm has been. Maybe this is one of the reasons that tensions are so high: law enforcement officials have been following the same archaic rules for decades upon decades, however this is by no means a stagnant community. We are ever growing and learning day to day, and as such, so should our justice system.
This is democracy. This is what it means to be an American—to have a voice. Each and every person in attendance added to the equation, and helped to write the Graceland story. However, none of this could have happened without the valiant efforts of Abby Stoetzel, Tim Robbins, and Dave Schaal in organizing this event. Long live Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
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