Immigration

Redirecting the Public Attention: a Conversation about Immigration Reform

By April 9, 2018 No Comments

Anna Guyton and Patrick Miller

The eighth grade is one best left in the past. The feeling of being a stranger in your own skin, a carsick passenger stuck in the backseat of a drive through the Ozarks, a hermit crab dying in your Petco shell painted with a neon yellow smiley face. This is where I met Patrick. At the time, Patrick could rarely be found without a beanie sloppily placed upon his mop of straw colored hair, a loose fitting tee shirt, and a perpetually fading pair of blue converse. To say that we were close is perhaps an exaggeration, but we ate lunch together everyday as two coworkers with a mutual distaste for their boss might.  

 

As jr high evolved into highschool, we peacefully grew apart. That is, until the summer before senior year, when we both attended a glorified summer camp for Arkansas’s “best and brightest”. The yearn for a familiar face compensated for the four years spent apart. Patrick, now more commonly referred to as Pat, quickly jumped back into my life. We began going on late night drives through the country, started a radio show, and regularly talked politics. That is why, when putting together a staff for this website, Pat was on the forefront of my mind. What follows is a brief conversation that might have gone on for hours if I had not cut it short.

 

Anna: What draws you towards the issue of immigration?

Pat: I think immigration often gets pushed to the wayside by more domestic topics. When the Parkland shooting happened protests occurred, and that is a good thing. At the time, though,  congress was preparing to make a deal about DACA, which would have been a step towards fixing the immigration issue, at least with our southern border. And that still leaves out the travel ban.  There are groups that operate on gun laws such as… moms want action?

Anna: Moms Demand Action. I follow them on Facebook.

Pat: Right! And that’s a great group, which can result in action and so forth, but my qualm with it is there could be a similar group of moms demanding action for immigration. You know? Like that also affects a lot of children, which isn’t talked about enough.

Anna: So what should we be doing to include immigration in the conversation? Should we do something similar to the gun control protests?

Pat: I think getting into the public eye would be a starting point. Protests, getting students involved, recognizing that it’s not just an issue for old white guys to talk about, which it shouldn’t be. 

It's something that we should have a say in and come to a better consensus about.

Anna: I think that this didn’t feel, to me, like this burning American issue during the Obama administration. It seems like it’s suddenly this big deal. Is this a bigger issue under the 45th administration? Do you feel like Trump actually matters as much as we make him out to?

Pat: I don’t know exactly. Thinking of immigration as both our southern border and the immigration of people from islamic countries, and the islamophobia and xenophobia that is portrayed by Trump and his supporters… Trump is almost a wake up call to begin to discuss this. We didn’t feel the need to have this conversation until Trump began to threaten immigrants.

Anna: Our generation uses social media more than anything else to create these conversations and facilitate protests. The nation wide walkout in April was completely organized through social media. Do you think that that’s an untapped platform to discuss immigration?

Pat: Like I said before with protesting, I think it’s a starting point. I dont think it’s the key.

Anna: So what is the key?

Pat: Having organizations that are prepared to stage more long term attacks on local offices and things like that. A problem that’s bugged me for two years now is the sheriff of Washington county, Tim Helder, is allegedly a democrat. Yet he runs one of two counties in Arkansas and only one of two counties (outside of Arizona and New Mexico) that enforces an optional ICE legislation which allows him to detain people who he suspects of being illegal immigrants until ICE can arrive and interrogate them. And he calls himself a democrat. This is a program that I feel could be changed relatively easily, if we had an organization to run someone against him or at least get the truth about him. He’s not what today’s democrat should be.

 

Anna: How is our generation handling immigration differently than past generations? How is this movement developing?

Pat: In the future, I don’t know. If current events are any indicator, it seems like we aren’t doing much of anything to fix this, which is problematic. Even tried and true methods of protest would be beneficial at this point, even just to get the ball rolling and see where it goes. Let’s do something.

Anna: You mentioned DACA earlier. That’s a relatively new issue, and is specifically affecting our generation. Do you think that those kind of direct issues will work as a catalyst for wider immigration reform?

Pat: I think it could, yeah. Especially if DACA were receiving more attention that it is right now. It’s actively being debated in congress but nobody is really talking about the results or effects of that. People seemed to have talked about it for maybe a week back when Trump threatened to repeal DACA, but past that I haven’t heard much discussion on the outcome of what might happen in congress. I feel like if perhaps there were more actions seen it might work as a catalyst and open the door for discussions about islamophobia or xenophobia.

Anna Guyton

Anna Guyton

Anna Guyton, 17, is a recent high school graduate. In the fall she will be attending Reed College in Portland, OR in order to study Art History. You can contact Anna at her email, anna@dearadultworld.com, or find her on Instagram @coffee_kiddo

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