Panel Discussion on US Immigration Policy

By Elijah McGuire-Berk

Elm Staff Writer

On March 17, after rescheduling due to snow, a panel was held in Decker Theatre to discuss the US immigration policy and its effects on America. The panel consisted of three speakers including Associate Professor of Economics Dr. Adalbert Mayer, the Vice President of the Heritage Foundation Dr. James Carafano, and Assistant Professor of Spanish and Director of the Black Studies Program Dr. Elena Deanda. Co-Presidents of the Alexander Hamilton Society Kevin Lair and Aydan Sultanov led the panel.

Lair opened the panel by thanking the Washington College Institute for Religion, Politics, and Culture for co-sponsoring the event with the Alexander Hamilton Society.

Panelists discussed immigration in America, its history, and its future as well as immigration’s complexity, and political polarity. With the different educational backgrounds of the three panelists, a variety of topics were covered in the discussion. Dr. Carafano said, “Immigration, per say, I think it’s a much bigger and much broader issue than just securing the border.”

One of the many topics during the panel was about Hispanics in America. Dr. Deanda said, “Hispanics are a really economically active population… They live in a country that [has] and [shares] the same values with their parents and have a very conflicted relationship with Mexico or Central America.” Dr. Deanda cited this as  one reason for the Hispanic population’s active economic status in America.

Dr. Mayer also discussed the economic effects of immigration. He said, “There are advantages of having more people. You have more taxes paid by more people so you can afford a bigger space program and you can afford a bigger military…having more contributors to our economic activities could increase that.” He also pointed out the negative effects of too many people. “There are downsides to this too because some resources are limited…and more people create more pollution than fewer people,” he said.

Dr. Carafano spoke about the different groups of immigrants to America and its changes over time. He said, “The American concept or how we view immigrants changes over time and it’s changed throughout history. It changes through a number of factors, not just the economic issues.” He referenced a time when it was believed that Italian immigrants would replace African American workers in the south. He said “We started importing vast numbers of Italians to the Mississippi.” He also talked about the way immigrants are viewed and how it’s changed over the years. “What’s white changes in America over time,” he said, meaning that an Italian American immigrant would be seen differently in the late 19th century than they’d be seen today.

The panel was an insightful discussion about the multitudes of effects that immigration has on America. The US is a nation made up of immigrants, and is “The Great Melting Pot.”

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