Students, experts discuss immigration reform policy

first_imgPanelists urged bipartisan compromise on immigration reform during Wednesday’s weekly Students Talk Back.The discussion, moderated by Dornsife’s Jesse M. Unruh Director Dan Schnur and Daily Trojan News Editor Yasmeen Serhan, began with a broad immigration overview by panelists.  The panel, held in The Forum at the Ronald Tutor Campus Center, was presented in partnership with the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute and the Bedrosian Center on Governance and Public Enterprise.Compromise · Panelists Carrie Lopez (left to right), Shikhar Gupta, Michael Madrid and Giuseppe Robalino discuss the importance of bipartisan compromise on immigration reform Wednesday afternoon in The Forum. — Ralf Cheung | Daily TrojanGrassroots Lab Principal Michael Madrid provided an economic perspective on reform to the discussion, noting that comprehensive reform was necessary for the nation’s economic health. Much to the appreciation of students in the audience, Madrid said all levels of the economy need an influx of individuals to replace a generation of workers.“There is a desperate cry from corporate America and employers for comprehensive reform,” Madrid said. “From top to bottom, we need to have a workforce replacing the retiring baby-boomer generation.”On the topic of a growing demand for professional jobs, USC College Democrats Director of Underclassmen Engagement Shikhar Gupta noted that comprehensive immigration reform could bring in a workforce from the science, technology, engineering and mathematical fields in to help the United States’ economic growth.“There is actually a proposal to give green cards to students with advanced degrees in STEM fields,” Gupta said. “Green cards would give permanent residency to these individuals and would have the impact of attracting people that we need for a growing economy.”Though USC College Republicans member Giuseppe Robalino agreed with the economic implications of immigration reform, he cautioned against overlooking the adverse effects of reform.“There are very broad and deep implications once we start discussing the economic implications,” Robalino said. “I think this is yet to be measured and yet to be seen, but it is something that needs to be considered.”Though economic considerations remained at the heart of the discussion, the panelists touched on the impact the polarization within Congress will have on immigration reform legislation moving forward.Though many view immigration to be a largely democratic party cause, Hispanas Organizing for Political Equality Leadership Institute Chair Carrie Lopez said that this was not always the case.“I want you to understand that no party owns this issue,” Lopez said. “When I was going to school, this was the issue of the day, and it was Ronald Reagan that led the front then. Fast-forwarding to 2007, all the solutions had elements from both sides of the aisle. Overall, the message is: Don’t stop questioning where the solution is going to come from.”Robalino said the Republican Party needs to re-adjust its strategy in light of the low Latino support in last year’s presidential election.“I do think the Republican Party is starting to re-examine itself and its policies,” Robalino said. “There are two things that are being said today — one is to take a more moderate stance and second is to say the same thing in ways that are less polarizing.”Madrid said divided government would require sacrifices by both parties.“Because of the redistricting, the Democrats can’t gain control of the House of Representatives for the foreseeable future in the same way the Republicans are not going to gain the White House in the foreseeable future,” Madrid said. “Both sides have to compromise.”Though some members of the audience questioned the feasibility of passing pieces of the legislation one at a time, Gupta cautioned against this.“If we were to piecemeal the legislation, it would cause attacks on each other’s legislation,” Gupta said. “The purpose of having this in one legislation is that it fosters compromise.”Josh DeMilta, a senior majoring in political science, said the discussion made him more aware of the bipartisan support for the issue that isn’t always represented.“It was interesting because I wasn’t quite aware of the bipartisan support for immigration reform,” DeMilta said. “I thought it would be more divided by political affiliation.”Catherine Shieh, a junior majoring in political science and urban planning, cautioned against thinking narrowly about the groups impacted by immigration reform. Shieh also said the words used in the debate carry a negative connotation.“Because [immigration reform] is such a broad issue, it’s difficult to discuss all aspects of it,” Shieh said. “It is important to respect the fact that though the Latino population is the largest population of immigrants, Asian-Americans are actually the fastest growing population of immigrants. Going forward, we’re going to define who holds the power in the discussion. The language is so tricky that sometimes we forget about it. When we say certain words, that is alluding to certain communities and carrying certain connotations.”last_img

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