Border talks for equality

Three experts on the U.S.-Mexico border described the exploitation of undocumented immigrants in the United States and the problems they face when they are deported.

Experts Justin Akers Chacon, Victor Clark and Jill Holslin spoke on Oct. 7 at a panel discussion held in Seville Theatre for the 6th Annual San Diego City College International Book Fair.

Victor Clark, director of the Binational Center for Human Rights in Tijuana and lecturer in the Latin American Studies Department at San Diego State University, addressed some of the issues undocumented immigrants face.  He said, “There is logic in migration, due to the increase in jobs. We want people to work but don’t want them to have privileges. It’s a contradiction.”

There are many reported cases of illegal immigrants being treated unfairly. Incidents of illegal immigrants having to work for as many as 60 hours per week while receiving less than minimum wage. Most of the time they are just trying to survive and are left with no option but to take whatever job is offered to them without thinking of the consequences it has on their rights.

This year the amount of documented illegal immigrants deported is near 400,000. Many of them faced inhuman situations, according to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“In reaction to the increase in deportations, the Mexican government has launched a program where they offer phone calls, bus rides to Jalisco, Mexico, shelter and hospital centers to help immigrants find their way home,” said Holslin, lecturer in the Department of Rhetoric and Writing Studies at San Diego State University. Hoslin has been documenting the construction of the U.S.-Mexico wall.

At the end of the discussion a student asked a question which made the experts pause for a moment.

“Don’t you think that it is patriotic as Americans to push for a harsh policy on illegal immigration?” the student asked.

Justin Akers Chacon, author of “No One is Illegal,” responded to the question by saying, “Patriotism. It is necessary to reclaim it and redefine it. There is a very fine line between being patriotic and humanitarian; these kinds of issues need to be addressed from a human point of view, not patriotic. If not, in response we get groups such as the Minute Men, who are an extremist form of a radical group, hatred inspired.”

The second Bi-National Border Conference will be held on Dec. 1 at City College.