Simulating Immigration: How To Become an American

Written by and posted on behalf of Adelle Barte, '15

In 2013, The New York Times released an article stating that there are about 11.7 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. To put this jarring number into perspective, think of some of the most populous cities in the world. In China, a country known for its extremely populated urban centers, Chongqing is the fifth most populated city in the country at around 11 million residents (the most populated is Shanghai at 23 million residents). New York City estimated around 8.4 million residents in 2013 – the number of undocumented immigrants is higher than the most populated city in the United States. It is no secret that the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States has risen dramatically over the years, and the number will continue to increase.

Comprehensive immigration reform is an ongoing issue as previous attempts of slowing down the number of undocumented aliens in the United States have failed. With the strengthening of border control, foreigners still and will continue to find a way to enter – immigrants would rather leave the unimaginable conditions at home for a place that will keep them safe. Desperation has reached to levels of children fleeing countries on their own to come to the United States to find their parents. This newer phenomenon of unaccompanied minors has reached growing concern.

There are two major considerations currently active in the government. The first is something close to Notre Dame: DACA or Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Put into action in 2012, DACA permits people who came to the United States as children to request deferred action for two years, which can be renewed. This allows for employment authorization, which creates jobs and economic stimulation, and for DACA students to apply for financial aid, the primary inhibition preventing them from an education. Just last year, Father Jenkins announced that Notre Dame would now accept undocumented students who apply. This year’s freshman class has the first group of DACA students to ever attend Notre Dame, a major stride in the open-arms attitude to children of DACA. With the recent election and Republican control of Congress, there is a large threat to cut the funding for DACA. 

Another factor of comprehensive immigration reform is the S.744 Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, a bill drafted in 2013 and passed in the Senate, which calls for significant immigration reform.

As part of the Advocacy for the Common Good course under the Center for Social Concerns at Notre Dame, a group of students from Holy Cross College and Notre Dame are working on a decision maker meeting with Representative Jackie Walorski to consider the movement of the bill through the House of Representatives. In preparation for this meeting, the students have already met with immigration experts in research meetings. These advocates want to further their campaign here on campus.

This week is the 2nd annual Immigration Week hosted by Notre Dame’s very own Student Coalition for Immigration Advocacy (SCIA). The week began with a documentary viewing of Children in No Man’s Land and concludes on Friday the 20th with an immigration simulation. An immigration simulation you ask? What is that?

An immigration simulation is a highly interactive activity that mimics the process of the legal steps and hardships one faces when trying to become a United States citizen. At the beginning of the activity, the participant is given a passport and a story of a person coming from another country. After waiting in line, the “immigrant” then comes to a table and is asked a question. Depending on the immigrant’s answer, they are then directed to another table, and so on. The process continues and then at the end, only a handful of the immigrants are revealed to receive citizenship.

This immigration simulation, being run by both SCIA and the advocacy group is meant to stimulate discussion about immigration here in the Notre Dame community. With the support of the student body, especially keeping in mind the 10 DACA Domers, the advocates (myself being one of them) have more backing to push Representative Walorski to re-consider the bill currently in Congress.

Come to the Notre Dame Room (2nd floor of LaFun) at 6 PM on Friday, February 18 to simulate your immigration and to learn more about our advocacy campaign!

Further reading:

New York Times article


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