MCC students lead panel discussion on immigration and national travel ban

By Erika Gill, Assistant Editor –

Immigration and the national travel ban and remain two hotly debated topics.

Three MCC students – Kendal Schmitt, Jericho Gonzales, and Eric Carballido –

expressed their diverse views in a recent panel discussion in the Stevenson Center that focused

on these two issues. The panel was moderated by Nicholas Budimir, sociology professor.

“There are flesh and blood living breathing people here, not too different from us,”

Schmitt said. “We already have fencing. We already have a secure enough border. If people can

come and go more easily, you decrease the number of illegal border crossings.”

He noted that some politicians refer to immigrants as “other” and evoke anxiety in many

Americans by making it seem as if they can't be trusted because they were not born here. This

leads to desire for an impenetrable nation in which the American dream is only a possibility for


“I see it [the wall] as a complete waste of resources,” said Caballido. “Too much

dehumanization of immigrants. The wall and the travel ban are not the way to go if we want to

repair the current rhetoric of the nation.”

By way of background, the panelists said that the crackdown on immigration has left

many families torn apart and insecure in the country they call home. The majority of illegal

immigrants have lived in the U.S. for 10 years or more, and the bulk of them are in hiding for

fear they will be forced out.

Gonzales took the opposite point of view.

While a supporter of immigrants who are already here, Gonzales said that changes need

to be made to prevent further illegal immigration.

“I am in favor of a visa tracking program,” he said. “There needs to be a viable way of

enforcing the wall. If we are going to accept people, we should reserve the right to send them

back if they arrive under refugee status.”

Many countries around the world are accepting refugees and providing a safe haven for

them while their home countries are being destroyed by corruption and terrorists. The U.S.

revised travel ban has alienated Syrian refugees in particular, and has made it where they are the

only country that will be held under an indefinite ban.

“The biggest problem with the people immigrating is the conditions that cause them to

immigrate in the first place,” said Schmitt.

Papa N’Jai, an MCC social sciences professor, said that terrorist groups have taken over

some nations and have caused millions of people to be displaced and to seek out refuge for

themselves and their families.

Carbillido said that some prominent politicians have made it appear that some refugees

desire to come to the U.S. so they can wreak havoc, instead of seeking asylum.

“Fear is a very important political tool,” Carbillido said, “and they seem to have

harvested that in the last political campaign. If we are the leaders in the world, we should lead by


During the question and answer period that followed, the consensus was that while

vetting and proceeding with some level of caution is prudent, the U.S. is comprised primarily of

people who descended from immigrants. Turning away refugees and making them out to be

anything other than a fellow human being who may need help, eradicates the principles this

country stands for.


Featured Image: Students (from left) Jericho Gonzales, Kendal Schmitt, and Eric Carballido respond to questions following a panel discussion on immigration and Trump’s travel ban. – Bay Window photo by Erika Gill.

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