Politics in Action Forum Series talks immigration

By Daniel Flores

In light of recent executive orders from the new presidential administration, the Politics in Action Forum Series hosted a discussion on the topic of immigration on Feb. 14 during U-Hour.

Faculty members who spoke to the students in attendance included Aaron DeRosa, Estela Ballon, Claudia Garcia-Des Lauriers, Jason Petrulis and Mike R. Pedro.

Each member told a story about immigration and how it affected them or the Cal Poly Pomona community.

“The goal of these panels is to connect students to faculty, resources on campus and to learn how to be more nimble and thoughtful participants in the democratic process,” said DeRosa.

Ballon is a faculty advisor to liberal studies students at CPP. Ballon told a story about her grandfather’s experience with immigrating to the United States.

She talked about how her grandfather used to go back and forth between Mexico and the United States so he could earn money in the United States and bring it back to Mexico.

Her grandfather dealt with racism,. She noted he saw signs that read “No Mexicans or Dogs Allowed.” Ballon talked about how her grandfather’s story could be compared to a lot of other immigrants’ stories.

“This is the case for many immigrants that come to the United States,” said Ballon. “Sometimes groups are treated very harshly. Sometimes there are stereotypes about the different groups such as the Italians, Irish, Chinese and Mexicans. Often times these immigrant groups are characterized in offensive ways.”

Garcia-Des Lauriers, an assistant professor of anthropology at CPP, described her relationship with immigration.

Garcia-Des Lauriers gave attendees basic definitions of what it means to be an illegal immigrant, and she went over the federal and state laws that affect them.

She also talked about her personal story on immigration, where she was smuggled into America by her mother, who was six months pregnant at the time and was also worried about being deported.

“I remember as a kid, every summer there would be raids,” said Garcia-Des Lauriers. “I lived in a small rural community, my dad is a farmworker, and there would be raids. And on those days, I didn’t get to play outside; my father would come to me and say, ‘Stay inside.'”

Her last words of advice were to “know your rights on both sides of the border, and there is always a way to fight this.”

Manalo-Pedro, the coordinator of Undocumented Students Services at CPP, also had a personal history with immigration.

His parents fled the Philippines in the 1970s during a time of martial law.

Manalo-Pedro then talked about the Undocumented Student Services. The program was started back in August after more than 20 years of campaigning by faculty, staff and students.

The goal of the Undocumented Student Services is to support students holistically, meaning academically, personally and professionally.

Manalo-Pedro has worked with students one-on-one, helping them find ways to pay for school, whether that be through financial aid or grants.

He also mentioned the DREAMers Ally Network which provides quarterly training around campus. The DREAMers Ally Network training educates the campus community about current issues and laws that affect immigrants.

Petrulis, an assistant professor in the College of Education and Integrative Studies, told a story about a Japanese immigrant during World War II, Sanjuro Horii, whose life was destroyed after being labeled as a “dangerous alien enemy” because of the events at Pearl Harbor.

The FBI came to the Horii home in the middle of the night, arrested Horii and then took him to a prison camp. After, the government froze the Horii family’s assets and forced them to live in detention at the Pomona Fairplex.

Horii moved from Japan to San Francisco in 1901 where he started his business and his family. Although he had lived in the United States for more than 30 years, he could not become a United States citizen because U.S. law prevented Japanese nationals from becoming citizens.

Petrulis connected the Executive Order 9066, which allowed the United States to send Japanese-Americans to internment camps, to the executive order that was passed by President Donald Trump preventing refugees from some Muslim countries to come to the United States.

Although these two executive orders come 75 years apart, similarities were addressed

“So when we look at history for lessons, let’s remember the Horii [family] and the thousands of others that suffered injustice in Pomona,” said Petrulis. “Let’s remember that the history of U.S. immigration is a history of exclusion and work to change this by fighting for inclusion.”

US immigration talks

Courtesy of Robert Diep

US immigration talks

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