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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Teach-in opens door for immigration bill debate

    Recent student protests sparked by the controversial Border Protection, Anti-terrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005, HR 4437, were the topics of a teach-in held yesterday in the Alumni Plaza.

    Students, faculty and community members spoke against an immigration bill that would make being an illegal immigrant in the U.S. a felony.

    Antonio Estrada, director of the Mexican American Studies and research Center, said the act was reminiscent of illegal deportations of Mexican-Americans that took place in the 1930s.

    “”We will not let this happen again. We will not stand by and let families be disbanded,”” Estrada said.

    Elizabeth Leivas, an elementary education junior, said she attended the forum to support people protesting the bill.

    “”It hits home for me. It’s affecting my family,”” Leivas said. “”My mother immigrated here and for part of her life she was illegal.””

    Leivas said she has other family members who are hoping to become U.S. citizens and she hopes that people will learn about how the proposed legislation for immigration reform will affect families and the economy.

    “”I hope people realize they’re affected whether they have direct ties to it or not. It’s all interconnected,”” Leivas said.

    Isabel Garcia, a UA alumna and an immigration activist and expert, said she didn’t agree with people who say students don’t understand why they’re protesting.

    “”Students really know more than the general public of the United States of America,”” Garcia said.

    Garcia said Americans need to understand more about the factors, including economic policies, that have contributed to illegal immigration.

    Garcia said the bill would militarize the border, would not provide a path to legal immigration, would make it a crime for U.S. citizens to offer social services to undocumented workers and would fund a $2.2 billion wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.

    “”HR 4437 is really an abomination,”” Garcia said.

    Another speaker, Salomon Baldenegro, a historian and a founder of the UA’s chapter of the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlǭn, criticized the bill and said its purpose was to create a culture of hate against Mexican-Americans.

    “”It could only be enforced based on looks, accents and last names,”” Baldenegro said.

    UA and Tucson High School students also spoke at the forum.

    “”We can’t vote, but we’re going to be heard,”” said Marisela Rodriguez, a Tucson High School student.

    Rodriguez invited UA students to join Tucson High School students and groups around the state by participating in a nationwide walkout planned for Monday.

    “”It’s nice to see some passion somewhere. There’s not enough here,”” said Jose Federico, a Latin American studies sophomore.

    Federico said he plans to participate in the walkout Monday and said he hoped the forum and demonstrations will educate others about immigration reform.

    “”There’s still a long way to go for everyone, not just ourselves,”” Federico said.

    Kathryn Ortiz, a rhetoric, composition and teaching of English graduate student, said she was impressed by the students protesting against the bill.

    “”The confidence to challenge the status quo is something students can do beautifully,”” said Ortiz. “”Students have always led the way in social movements.””

    The teach-in was organized by UA Mexican-American studies students.

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