Georgetown University: State of Latinos Forum (morning session)

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A forum entitled, “State of Latinos: The Consolidation of the Immigration Debate and its Impact on the Hemisphere” was held at Georgetown University yesterday, March 29th.  For four years I have been studying the immigration issue, specifically where Mexico is concerned, and I was very excited about attending.

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There were many very distinguished, very learned panel members talking about government and public approaches to the immigration issue, its impact on the hemisphere, as well as discussing social, economic, demographic, religious, and cultural trends as they relate to immigration.  The forum was very informative, and the panel members had their facts and figures extremely well researched.

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After a panel would discuss an issue they would solicit questions, which allowed me to ask their opinion of an idea I had been formulating all morning.  This is the question I asked:

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“This morning we’ve been hearing many alarming statistics regarding how poorly the undocumented Hispanic immigrant is doing in this country.  They have a high drop-out rate from high school and a low admission rate to college, and they occupy a disproportionate number of the lowest paid jobs in the country.  We’ve heard that Hispanics, even the documented ones, have low rates of registering to vote and subsequently have a very small, quiet voice on Capitol Hill.  We’ve heard about how the undocumented immigrant suffers a disproportionate rate of social and economic injustices.

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I went on to say, “I’ve been following four remarkable individuals who have walked from Miami, Florida all the way to Washington D.C., sharing along the way their stories of how being undocumented has affected their lives.  They are not happy stories.  They’ve talked about how the high drop-out rate from high school is linked very closely to the fact that for the undocumented immigrant, there isn’t any incentive to finish.  They have little chance of going to college and if they do, they have an even smaller chance of working in their acquired profession.

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“My question is this:  If the best and brightest of the undocumented youth in this country could finish college, enter the work force, and become registered voters, wouldn’t all these statistics improve?  After having reached sufficient numbers, they would be able to direct their abilities and strength of will at all of the other injustices, and the “State of Latinos” would quickly and dramatically improve.  Given that, wouldn’t it make sense for all the different organizations fighting for change to come together to strongly support passage of the DREAM Act?”

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One of the answers I received was that the consensus among the different organizations is that to throw all their support behind just the DREAM Act would leave behind the other 12 million undocumented Hispanics in the country.  I didn’t mean to imply that the other organizations should abandon their agendas, but I was grateful for the answer.  It was actually the answer to a different, unasked question, “How come nothing changes?”