It’s time to stop ignoring immigration

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Immigration is not often talked about here at NT. IGSS had a unit on it, and some Sophomore English classes read “Enrique’s Journey” telling the story of an immigrant’s experience. But beyond sporadic instances, immigration is never the subject of a larger schoolwide conversation.

We had two Seminar Days on race in the past few years, and Day of Silence is an annual event here. Obviously, both of these issues deserve much more time and thoughtful discussion than just one day once a year. But we do discuss race and gender and sexuality some, while immigration seems to be left out.

Our country was founded on the theory that conversation, and therefore disagreement, is not just inevitable, but necessary. In defending the US constitution for ratification, James Madison argues that a multitude of competing voices and ideas– “factions” as he calls them– would be an ideal model for the new country.

And while Madison definitely wasn’t referring to a high schools’ discussion of immigration, experience cultivates ideas, so for these moral and social debates to occur, our government must contain people with all different backgrounds. On a smaller, more manageable level, these differences, whether experiential or ideological, need to be acknowledged on a more intimate scale–by us students.

It’s easy to ignore what may not seem to directly affect us, but that’s all the more reason to talk about it. The immigrant experience is often a silent one. People who are affected most by the issue of immigration are incentivized to stay the quietest because they face threats to the lives they’ve built, and their safety. But the immigrant experience exists for people at NT just as it does for people all around the country.

We may feel isolated from certain issues because they appear to be removed from us; we often hear of the Northshore bubble which separates us from the rest of the world. But as we hope we’ve shown through our spread on pages 4 and 5, many students here are first, second, and third generation members of this country.

Maybe our grandmothers immigrated from Russia to escape the pogroms. Maybe we’re first generation from Cambodia. Either way, our ancestors came here from somewhere. We all have a connection to immigration somehow.

But the only way in which we can have meaningful discussions about immigration is by hearing the voices of those who went through the experience.

Relating to people who are similar to us is easy: just have a quick chat about basketball or last night’s episode of “The Bachelor.” When we get comfortable, however, we stop growing. It’s hard at first to talk to people with which you seemingly have little in common. How can someone who grew up in Wilmette be able to relate to someone who immigrated here from Syria?

Discussions with people that we’re not sure how to relate to may start off as slightly awkward, almost forced. But there will be a point at which we pass from all this discomfort. After all, we all take part in the human experience.

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