Last week, Pope Francis made an historic visit to Mexico, including stops at the U.S.-Mexican border and a prison in Ciudad Juarez, in order to to bring world-wide attention to immigration issues.
At Manhattan College, students felt that there needed to be a presence addressing immigration reform in honor of the Pope’s visit. Campus Ministry/Social Action (CMSA) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) erected a “mock border,” a chain link fence with signs in several different languages reading “humanity has no borders” and “no human being is illegal.”
“I would say three out of the five points of the Lasallian Star have to do with what we’re doing here, which is inclusive community, respect for all persons and concern for the poor and social justice,” said Brianna DelSanto, a sophomore at Manhattan College and head of the mock border event.
As a Lasallian school, Manhattan College’s presence in the discussion of social reform is very important to those members of CMSA and CRS. DelSanto wanted to make that connection.
“These issues are a pressing matter and we are trying to educate,” she said.
The ability for students to teach each other was an extremely important part of how CMSA chose to approach the issue of immigration reform.
With a student run project and a student run organization, CMSA was able to not only address the issue of immigration, but also a Catholic call to action, which is ever-present at Manhattan College.
“Ever since taking office pope francis has been reminding us that we are one human family, one human people,” said Conor Reidy, campus minister.
Campus Ministry took its own stance on immigration and provided a medium through which students could talk about the issue with the mock border.
“This semester we wanted to have a visual that could catch people’s attention,” said DelSanto.
CMSA wanted to take their work further and make a statement on campus regarding social issues. Inspiration was taken from other schools, like Arizona State University, to put up a mock border to draw attention to the issue of immigration reform.
The large, chain link fence in the oftentimes quiet Quad enlivened some conversation. A video was made in response to the mock border and posted on Facebook by Liberty Hangout. In less than a week, the video accumulated almost 5,000 views. Justin Moldow, Liberty Hangout’s founder, aimed to provide another argument of the immigration reform conversation.
In the video, Moldow was seen “trolling” the mock border by putting a Donald Trump cutout with a speech bubble saying, “build the wall” next to the fence. Donald Trump’s controversial presence in the race was a perfect way to unveil some debate, according to Moldow.
“I don’t support Donald Trump… But I figure those who put up the mock border don’t agree with Donald Trump either, so let’s see how they can handle dissenting views. It sparked a really much needed discussion,” said Moldow.
With some disliking the video and some agreeing, it allowed real conversation on campus. Reidy stated that CMSA/CRS would like to co-sponsor an event with Liberty Hangout, in order to provide all sides of an issue.
“I think the video was great political satire… We want these kinds of conversations about immigration reform,” said Reidy
The conversation about such important issues was lead by proactive students of Manhattan College, regardless of political opinion.
“What’s important to me is that it’s getting people thinking, it’s getting people talking,” said Moldow.