Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UDems hold meeting discussing immigration reform

The group proposes easier access to citizenship

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(Collegian File Photo)

(Collegian File Photo)

(Collegian File Photo)

By Gretchen Keller, Assistant News Editor

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In their third meeting of the semester, the University of Massachusetts Democrats tackled the issue of immigration reform in the United States.

On Feb. 21, President Sonia Guglani, alongside Vice President Jack Eccles and member Reily Connaughton, explained the past, present and current immigration system under the President Trump.

The Trump Administration has recently developed a four pillared immigration plan that is the result of compromises from both parties. The plan was unveiled during the State of the Union address on Jan. 30, 2018.

The first pillar of the plan claims to pave the way for 1.8 million undocumented immigrants, who were brought into the U.S. by their parents at a young age, also known as “dreamers.” If certain educational and work requirements are met, dreamers may be able to obtain official U.S. citizenship.

The second pillar of the plan aims to increase border security by building a wall between the U.S.-Mexico border and increasing the amount of Custom and Border Patrol agents.

The third pillar; a program that randomly releases green cards to immigrants, will also terminate the visa lottery system. The fourth pillar protects nuclear families and ends chain migration, in order to prevent distant relatives from entering into the U.S. illegally as well.

UDems disagreed with almost all aspects of these pillars. Additionally they also disagreed with President Trump’s proposal of ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act by the end of March and the proposition of eliminating sanctuary cities.

“By not solving problems, we are creating a second class of citizens,” argued Timmy Ennis, a freshman political science major. “Kids with DACA, they are everything except paper Americans, except for the fact that we’re treating them as second class citizens in a country that should stand for freedom for all.”

Reily Connaughton, a senior public policy major, argues that the stereotyping of immigrants is what also prevents them from obtaining citizenship. “There’s a lot of scapegoating going on with immigration. This makes it not as serious a conversation as it should be,” he said. “We have the extreme of scapegoating here by emphasizing that ‘all immigrants are MS-13 members,’ and then the other side, that the vast majority of Americans agree that DACA should be renewed and dreamers should be protected.”

This past Thursday, Feb. 15, four new major immigration bills were put on the Senate floor, including the Common Sense Caucus (54-45), the McCain-Coons (52-47), the Grassley (Trump) Plan (39-60) and the Toomey amendment to withhold funding from sanctuary cities (54-45).

Every bill failed to pass. Yet, many UDems argue, there is only a matter of time until more immigration plans aside from DACA become more contentious.

Despite the possible end of DACA, public health major and first-generation American Aron Unger looks forward with optimism and a citizenship improvement plan for incoming immigrants.

“We’re talking a lot about illegal immigration, but not so much about legal immigration. I feel like the illegal immigration problem is partially caused by a very broken legal immigration program.”

“You need a ton of money to get here in the first place, there’s very strong limits on people who can come here. You’re incentivizing illegal immigration because people don’t really have any other choice if they want to come here. Mexico has something around a 25 year waiting list to get into America, and that’s ridiculous,” argued Unger. “To say that illegal immigration is a problem, but without a legal immigration path, people are going to take an illegal path.”

The UDems will hold a debate against the UMass Republicans on Wednesday, Feb. 28 in the Commonwealth Honors College at 8:00 p.m. Immigration reform will be one of the many topics discussed.

Gretchen Keller can be reached at [email protected]

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