Students consider immigration issue


John Wilhelm

Seniors Steven Go-Rosenberg (right) and Bilal Askari (left) discuss immigration. “At the end of the day, legally or illegally, we’re all seeking better opportunities,” Askari said.

“I applied for citizenship when I came here at nine months old,” senior Bilal Askari recounted. “At ten months, I got my permanent residency. I should have my citizenship within a year.”

The topic of immigration is a divisive one, which seems to extend past party lines, confusing politicians, economists, and most Americans in general.  Most notably, the issue of illegal immigration, and whether or not undocumented immigrants ought to be given a path to citizenship, has been rehashed since the 1986 amnesty, when 2.7 million undocumented immigrants were given legal status.

“It’s a sensitive issue for a lot of people,” junior Afsar Sandozi said. “The whole idea of those who have been waiting for more than a decade to get citizenship … always pops up.” Like Sandozi, many students are torn between the benefits of allowing contributing citizens into the United States, and the detriments of letting those immigrants ‘cut in line’ in front of people who have waited many years to enter the US. “I can see both sides of the argument,” Sandozi continued, “that’s why it’s hard for me to take a side on it.”

Others, like sophomore Riley Wheaton, are very clear on their stance. “I think there should be a path to citizenship. It’s our responsibility to extend rights to people who have been contributing to our country for a certain period of time. It just feels wrong to take someone who has been living here and giving back to the country, and sending them somewhere else,” Wheaton said.

Freshman Henry Ziemer came to a similar conclusion, but noted a few caveats. “Definitely, I’m in favor of immigration reform including a path to citizenship,” Ziemer said, “But I don’t just support an ‘open the flood gates’ mentality. It should be easier to immigrate and become a citizen, but safeguards should still be put in place.”

Justifiably, a student like Askari who has patiently waited eighteen years for citizenship could be against such a path, especially for undocumented immigrants. “You could make the case that the people who would get this expedited path to citizenship—that it’s unfair,” Askari said. “But I think it should exist. At the end of the day, legally or illegally, we’re all seeking better opportunities.”