Panel discussion explores immigration
Community Reading Project event sparks philosophical conversations
Currently in the U.S., there are roughly 49 million Hispanic residents, and this number is only expected to grow. Mexican immigrants comprise the largest number of Hispanic immigrants, as they make up more than 60 percent of this population. On Oct. 10, Grand Valley State University held these numbers in consideration as it hosted a panel discussion meant to spark a philosophical debate concerning immigration.
“The panel is hoping to present different topics for this discussion and have (those attending) see the topic of immigration in a different light,” event monitor Bill Kinter said before the show. “We hope to open their eyes to it and overall broaden people’s perspectives on it.”
The event, CPR Philosophy Panel: Perspectives on Immigration, was put on as part of the annual Community Reading Project, covering “The Distance Between Us” by Reyna Grande. It was the first of many events planned for this year’s Community Reading Project.
“The Community Reading Project is a project that chooses one book each year for all of Grand Valley, mostly used by LIB classes, and all year long the project holds events for the book,” Bill Kinter said. “This panel is a part of the Community Reading Project and just one of the events (being held) for the book.”
The panelists consisted of Maureen Wolverton from the liberal arts department, José Alejandro Amorós from the philosophy department, Andrew Schlewitz from the political science department, and Margie Muñoz, a women and gender studies student.
“This book is a memoir and tells (the author’s) story of growing up in Mexico and how her parents left her to go making a living in the U.S.,” Kinter said. “Eventually, she also moved to the United States and faced discrimination and struggled with her family identity. She felt as though ever since her parents had left her and moved to the U.S., her family was broken by the separation and always felt as though Mexico was her home.”
Panel discussion was personal, as two panel members related to the book’s depiction of the author’s feelings.
“Being someone who has emigrated myself, originally from Columbia, I have moved to many different countries, and you do struggle with who you are,” Muñoz said. “I use all of the cultures I have been a part of to make up who I am.”
Muñoz elaborated on how each U.S. immigrant has their own story and own reasons for coming to the U.S., insisting that no one is the same so immigration cannot be looked at as one big picture because it is made of many smaller pictures.
Amorós is originally from Puerto Rico and also gave a personal spin on the subject.
“The citizenship alone doesn’t make you a part of the country. I don’t expect America to accommodate for me,” Amorós said. “One of the (stereotypes) I would remove is looking at immigrants as poor victims. It was my choice (to move here), as it is any immigrant’s choice.”
The panel covered immigration with philosophical, psychological, economic, and sociological perspectives, with the goal of broadening attendees’ outlooks on the topic.
“The panel discussion spotlighted the stereotypes that come along with immigration and that make things hard on the immigrants,” said Todd Millar, who is reading the book for his LIB class. “It helped me change my opinion that immigrants don’t always come and cause problems, but (that) immigration is a necessity because it is what America was developed from ever since the beginning of our existence.”