BY ISN STAFF | May 22, 2014
Santa Clara University hosted “Immigration Week” on campus in late April to bring attention to very pressing issue of immigration and the call for immigration reform in the U.S. We asked Lauren Farwell (Santa Clara University ’14) who serves as the Department Coordinator of Empowerment for Santa Clara’s Community Action Program, to offer some insight into the week.
ISN: Why is immigration an important issue for the Santa Clara University (SCU) community?
Lauren: Immigration is an important and relevant issue in our world and community today because it is a reality and something that is constantly enriching diversity and culture. Our Immigration Week and “mock border wall” touched on themes of migration globally, with a deeper focus on U.S./Latin American migration, which is very relevant here in California. The issue of immigration is important to the SCU community because it is present right here at home – many of our students and the surrounding community are immigrants or come from immigrant backgrounds, and their presence and experiences are valued. It is important for SCU students to see themselves as global citizens rather than focus on defining ourselves by our citizenship status.
ISN: What impact do you think immigration week had on the community?
Lauren: Our hope is that the SCU community was able to educate themselves on a wide array of issues related to immigration. Our “mock border wall” presented information on the economics of migration, the physical border, push and pull factors, myths and facts of migration, undocumented experiences- including stories from undocumented Santa Clara students, the power of derogatory language like using the word “illegal”, opponents of immigration, Policies and Politics, faith and advocacy, and ways for students to learn more and get involved. Through our speaker panels, open mic event called UndocuCafe, movie screenings, and immigration rally throughout Immigration Week, the SCU community was able to hear personal stories, to get an understanding of challenges to immigrant communities in the bay area and beyond, and to act on behalf of immigrants and laborers on May Day. We hear every year that students are most impacted by the personal stories shared by undocumented students at Santa Clara. We hope that these opportunities allowed students to reflect on the immigrant experience and the beauty of migration in our world and right here at home.
ISN: Moving forward, what are some hopes you have for the SCU community in regards to the immigration?
Lauren: Each year we do encounter opposition and resistance from students who hold more conservative views on immigration, often focusing unauthorized immigration in a criminal light as the only element of the immigration issue. However, we are continually astounded with the ways that support and advocacy for immigrants overpowers the negatives views. Our hope is that the SCU community will continue to be engage and educate ourselves on the issues of immigration beyond this one week. We hope that the community will continue to celebrate immigrants and bring to light a lot of the nuances of immigration that are often oversimplified or overshadowed.
What is your campus, parish, organization, etc. doing for social justice? Is there an initiative you would like the larger Ignatian family to learn about? Let us know by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with a brief overview of what is happening and your contact information.