ASU students, faculty react to immigration reform proposals

University professors and student government members have mixed reactions toward immigration policy reform plans proposed Monday and Tuesday.

Proposals from a bipartisan committee of eight senators and President Barack Obama emphasize ending hiring of illegal immigrants and providing a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the U.S.

One of the major causes of concern over border security is the trade of cocaine and amphetamines from Mexico into the American southwest.

Tempe Undergraduate Student Government Vice President of Policy Jordan Tygh has interned for Sen. John McCain, a member of the senate group, and shares McCain’s concerns with drug cartels.

“I think border security plays a huge role,” Tygh said. “We have to stop the drug cartels.”

Carlos Vélez-Ibáñez is the director of ASU’s School of Transborder Studies, which educates students about the populations of the U.S.-Mexico border and the policies that affect them.

Vélez-Ibáñez said the drug trade is not the only trade between Arizona and Mexico.

He said the vibrant transborder economy, which greatly benefits Arizona, is evidence that locking down the border is not a wise decision.

“(The drug trade) is not a Mexican problem, nor is it an American problem,” Vélez-Ibáñez said, “You have to look at it comprehensively.”

Carmen Cornejo, executive director of the Committee for the Support and Development of the American Nation’s Students, said discussion of immigration reform needs to be discussed rationally while thinking about the future.

“I want to talk about border security, but we need to do it in a pragmatic, rational manner,” Cornejo said. “The border needs to be secure, but to be rationally calibrated to allow for future immigration.

Cornejo’s committee focuses on the passage of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, which would provide an opportunity to obtain citizenship for immigrants who were brought to the U.S. before they were 15 if they graduated high school.

“These youth that have been living in the U.S. are not going anywhere,” Cornejo said. “Their skills are needed.”

Tygh said a path to citizenship is necessary for the “DREAMers,” but it would not be fair to grant citizenship to them instead of the people who legally applied for citizenship and are currently on a wait list.

“If you want to be an American citizen, it shouldn’t be easy,” Tygh said. “You should have to work for it. We want hard workers.”

The DREAM Act would also provide citizenship to immigrants who served in the military for at least two years, which Tygh does support.

“If you’re willing to die for our country, you’re ready to be a citizen,” Tygh said.

The senators’ proposal is not the first time a bipartisan immigration plan has been proposed.

McCain worked with Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, to produce the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act of 2005, commonly known as the McCain-Kennedy Bill.

The McCain-Kennedy Bill also proposed a combination of border security with a possibility for working-illegal immigrants to earn citizenship. The bill was never voted on in the senate, and neither were variations of the bill proposed in 2006 and 2007.

 

Reach the reporter at jwthrall@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @jthrall1