A student-led group has organized the National Leadership Summit for Immigration, a conference to be held on March 16 that will include a panel of congressmen, assemblymen and prominent scholars from across the United States.
“The goal of the event is to educate and make people more conscious of the immigration reform. You know, we hear a lot of things on the news, a lot of legislation that is not completely accurate, but oftentimes the people that hear it are those who have something invested,” said UCR chicano and public policy major Victoria Tinoco.
Co-chaired by Tinoco and UCR political science major Joseph Cobbs, the group is entitled Alliance for Immigration Reform (AIR). The organization consists of nearly 30 students from the ethnic studies class, Chicano Contemporary Issues 132, which is taught by UCR Ethnic Studies Professor Armando Navarro.
“Hundreds of individuals from divergent sectors, organizations and communities from throughout the country who are committed to achieving humane comprehensive immigration reform will converge on March 16,” said Navarro. “Not since the passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which legalized some 3 million undocumented persons, has the country been at a juncture to achieve [this kind of] reform.”
Academic panelists will include: UCLA History Professor Juan Gomez-Quinonez; UCR Professor of Political Science Karthick Ramakrishnan; La Sierra University Sociology Professor Jesse Diaz; and UCR Associate Professor of Sociology Ellen Reese. The event took approximately one quarter to be organized by AIR.
During the preliminary stages of the event, seven student committees—program, logistics, speaker’s pool, literature, finance, outreach, and publicity—were created within the class. The committees are led by separate chairs, who report to Cobbs and Tinoco.
“Both of my parents are undocumented, so I have been a really big advocate for immigration rights and human rights for a very long time. So for me…it was for my parents and it was for other people like them or stories similar to them,” said Tinoco.
In late January, a federal bipartisan committee consisting of four Democrats and four Republicans collaborated in order to create general outlines for U.S. immigration reform. There are over 11 million undocumented workers in the United States.
“Immigration has always been a very divisive issue in America, even from a historical perspective and I think it’s kind of outrageous that we still treat immigrants this way,” said Cobbs.
The co-chairs expressed appreciation for organizing the event and inspiration for being a greater part of the community.
“There’s so much miscommunication about what these proposed laws are and there’s so much confusion…I want this to give people more knowledge about what’s happening, so we can get all their questions answered, so they no longer feel like they’re in a box with no escape,” said Tinoco.
The conference will take place from 8 am. to 5 p.m. on March 16. Located in HUB 302, attendees must register by contacting the UCR Chicano Student Programs or the AIR organization by March 13. Donations for the conference can be made on the AIR homepage.