About DukeEngage Tucson 2010

Immigration is perhaps the single largest domestic challenge facing both the United States and Mexico today. People die nearly every week attempting to cross the border. Hostilities against immigrants in the U.S. rise daily. Local, state, and international relations are increasingly strained.

For eight weeks this summer, seven students have been given the opportunity to travel to Tucson, Arizona and Nogales, Mexico to study the many faces of immigration. Following two weeks of meetings with local activists, a Border Patrol agent, a federal public defender, lawyers, members of the Tohono O’odham Nation, maquiladora owners, Grupos Beta employees, migrants, and local farmers, we will spend six weeks partnered with Southside Day Labor Camp, BorderLinks, or Humane Borders in order to further immerse ourselves in the issues of immigration.

This blog chronicles our experiences and our perspectives on what we learn while here in Arizona. We hope our stories are interesting and informative.


Friday, July 16, 2010

what Arizona gave me

Don’t get me wrong – I have learned a lot here especially from people who are pro-immigrant humanitarian workers and I consider myself as pro-immigrant as well. Still, in Arizona, the heart of immigration issues, I have also learned a lot from anti-immigrant people as I listen and read their arguments. I actually do not understand their arguments; most of the time, it seems their arguments lack a proper logic and rather make me more pro-immigrant. Yet I always try to listen and read them as seriously as possible, because I know that maybe my – or our as pro-immigrant – arguments would seem ridiculous to them just as theirs seem to me. One of the biggest lessons I have gained here is the fact that everybody – pro-immigrant, anti-immigrant, or immigrants themselves – has different stories, and one should not dismiss others’ stories; I listen what anti-immigrant people say because I want them to listen what we say.

Also, I have learned why people cross the border regardless of the unfair label of ‘illegal’ they would get. Before coming here, I thought it was not immigrants themselves but only their children who had no choice but to cross with their parents – that was why I supported the DREAM Act. Now, I understand the lack of options in Mexico or other Latin American countries.

And that made me even more interested in the legal or political facet of immigration issue than I had been before. If there are strong push and pull factors that force people to cross, creating border walls or increasing the deportation rate will not help to solve the root problem at all. It is those push and pull factors that should be treated, and I think those treatments have to be made from the legal or political approaches – to ameliorate economies of Latin American countries, to make immigration process accessible, or to establish appropriate programs such as the guest worker program.

With those deepened understandings of multifaceted immigration issues, I now look forward to even more enlightening experiences during the 10 days left ahead of me and after that as well.

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