Immigration is a current topic of debate in the United States due in part to the fear that immigrants negatively affect the economy and contribute to crime and terrorism.
Many people have misconceptions about Latino immigrants that were disproved as myths in the Immigration and Acculturation Symposium on Wednesday.
The symposium was held in the Campus Center Ballroom A before a group of approximately 80 people.
Leo Chavez, professor of anthropology at UC Irvine, addressed the issue of why immigration reform is so difficult in America.
“In order to understand present, we must look back at the past and what it tells us,” Chavez said.
Past perceptions are still prevalent today and affect many Americans’ view on immigration, Chavez said.
Chavez focused on three themes of the Latino Threat Narrative: a Latino Quebec, reconquest of the Southwest and fertility.
The underlying idea of all three themes was fear.
Many Americans fear the loss of jobs, opportunities and an over population due to an increase of Latino immigrants.
Chavez showed many images from U.S. News and World Report Magazine.
One image displayed the American flag with extra colors accompanying the normal red, white and blue.
The excess colors on the stripes of the flag were brown, yellow and red to depict the African American, Asian and Latino cultures.
The image made clear America was being invaded with other racial groups.
Many Americans view immigrants as a source of job loss, but the positions immigrants are employed in are the ones that no one else will do.
“Latinos keep the nation afloat by the jobs they do and the revenue they bring in,” Chavez said.
The numbers speak for themselves that a language barrier is not a problem in the Latino community.
A majority of the third generation of immigrants speaks English fluently in their daily lives.
Today only 60 percent of Latinos are married to other Latinos.
They also have friends and relationships with people of different ethnicities and are not trying to be associated with only their respective culture.
Despite what many think, more than half of Latinos claim to be Catholic and the fertility rates have decreased dramatically from 1970 to 2000.
“Chavez argued about fertility saying Latino women are used as a threat. We don’t have army tanks but just women who are having children,” Jennifer Gonzalez, a graduate history student said.
Chavez wants immigrants to have a path available to them for citizenship when they are ready to join the United States.
Following Chavez’ talk, Kenneth Marcus then introduced the three panelists, Stephen Voss, president of the International Institute of Los Angeles, Diane Uchimiya, professor of law and David Bacon, writer and photojournalist.
Each panelist was given 15 minutes to speak about their opinions on the topics of immigration and labor.
Uchimiya discussed Congress’ power to regulate immigration and how they are not doing a good job.
“Enforcement of laws is not the answer,” Uchimiya said.
“The government needs to learn to explore solutions that are not limited to enforcement,” Uchimiya added.
She believes that we can come up with more creative solutions to immigration rather than attempting to perfect the current approaches.
David Bacon addressed how it seems inequality has become an official policy and how it should not be like this.
He talked about the Civil Rights Movement and how it is meant to be used by all of the races. It was created as a worldwide political movement to ensure the equality of law, but is now conceived to have assisted only African-Americans.
Voss spoke about his wife who is a Vietnamese refugee and his grandfather who is a German immigrant.
He urged people to have an open heart and to be conscious when thinking about the issue of immigration instead of connecting with popular opinion merely because it is accepted.
He wants everyone to form their individual opinions.
Tiffany Spears can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.