Last month, San Diego City College hosted the 4th annual Binational Conference on Border Issues. At the conference we talked about different policies or points of view about immigration policy, and the public’s reception of the issue. It was explained that immigration policy was constructed through social and economic conflict, and that people perceive different ideas or some mean different things when they hear about an “immigration policy.” The Dreamers are a perfect example of an “immigration policy act.” Activists and traditional liberal advocates who rely on the narrative of “We are a Nation of Immigrants” explain it as such. Therefore, they have a right to pursue the American dream.
It was discussed that immigration has always existed, that people have always migrated. People always migrate to find a better quality of life or better land. There has always been arguments talking about who are the true natives of a country, but countries have been constructed by generations and generations of migrants. This is an inclusive narrative rounded in a couple of ideas.
The economy was also discussed. It was said that immigration policy should come from the idea that human rights come before the health of the economy. This idea fits with the grander historical narrative of liberal capitalism within this country, which Chicana/o Studies professor Justin Akers Chacon said was about, “perceiving our economy to be perpetually growing and there’s always going to be a need for more people and that that need should be more inclusive.” These ideas co-exist with a more hostile organization promoting that America, Americanism and American Citizenship is not for everyone, arguing that in times of economic instability Americans within the general middle class should not compete with immigrants basing their argument on the be “proud” or dragging itself into the flag and the idea of the Americanism and putting immigrants on the side.
Immigration policy was explained as being inconsistent. It was said that policy emerges out of great systemic changes and within those changes, said Akers Chacon, these different groups reflect and promote their own narrative in conflict with each other. The Dreamers have taken a political form and confronted power by using different forms of social activism to interrupt a process that criminalizes their entire community. This is one of the main reasons why political parties are hesitant to actively support them.