By Jon Vitale
Elm Staff Writer
On Tuesday, April 16, the Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience hosted Christina Jiménez, who gave a talk about immigration.
Jiménez is an immigration reform advocate, and the CEO of United We Dream, an advocacy organization for undocumented immigrants.
Jiménez spoke on the experience of undocumented immigrants, including her own experiences growing up. She reflected on how difficult it was for her to be able to attend college in the face of discrimination.
Jiménez raised attention to the struggle of undocumented immigrants to obtain justice and equality. After the talk, a Q&A was held, in which Jiménez answered questions from students in both English and Spanish.
Despite the complicated and sometimes brutal nature of the national debate surrounding illegal immigration, Jiménez remains optimistic. She believes that as divisive as political differences can be, there is reason to hope that we are capable of working together to make a better world.
“What I want to share with you is the power that comes when people in our communities come together,” she said.
In her work as an advocate for immigration reform, Jiménez has encountered many cases in which undocumented immigrants have faced barriers she would like to see removed. One of these stories in particular was striking to Starr Center intern junior Alex Ramos. An undocumented high school junior in Houston was arrested and jailed when the school discovered his status. The community eventually rallied around the student’s cause, which led to his release.
“The fact that that many people would rally around a singular student in Houston, who was just so unfairly detained — that was so moving and interesting, and something I had not heard of before,” Ramos said.
In her assessment of the talk, Starr Center intern junior Maria Betancur-Cardona believes it is important to have the conversation.
“I think we need to have a panel discussion, where we don’t attack anyone even if we disagree wholeheartedly with someone’s point of view and present all points of view. Anyone who wants to speak can speak their mind should be able to and feel comfortable doing so. We don’t need to come up with the perfect solution right away, but we need to at least engage in the dialogue,” she said.
After Jiménez’s talk and Q&A, the audience gave her a standing ovation.
Jiménez reiterated that there is work yet to be done.
“More and more people are getting engaged in the conversation, and more and more people are asking questions, because people are feeling a moral imperative to be clear about our values, and what we want this country to be about, and how we are shaping the American experience, and who gets to define that experience,”she said.
Still, Jiménez remains hopeful about the future of civil debate over immigration
“We are yet to be a country of justice for all, or of equity for all. I know that if we work together in whichever role we have, that we can make that happen,” she said.