CRS Program Highlights Difficulties of Emigration

by AUGUST KISSEL, Editor & DANIEL MOLINA, Staff Writer

As part of the efforts to create conscience about the real information behind the negative rhetoric used by the media and some other public figures during this electoral year, the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Student Ambassadors created “Crossing Borders,” a simulation of what difficulties immigrants have to face when coming into the United States.

The point of the activity was not only presenting the information about this hot topic but also humanizing something that is seen so generically within a macroeconomic context: for numbers to become each individual as a person.

“What we want to do is to open people’s eyes a little bit and show them that we are not really different than these immigrants,” Kayli McTague, senior student and ambassador for the CRS, said. “We are all kind of immigrants in these country no matter when or from where our ancestors came from.”

During the simulation, people were given a passport and an identity and they had to move through the most basic examples of the immigration process seen from the perspective of people from all around the world pertaining to different socioeconomic backgrounds and countries.

“Especially with the Syrian refugee crisis, people think that Syrian refugees will come into the county by the hundreds of thousands, and that’s just not the way that it is,” McTague said. “We want people to walk out of here having had a very small experience with it and maybe understand the next time they see something in the news or the next time they hear someone talking about it, that they feel like now we’ve started a dialogue; that people want to ask questions and to know what questions to ask.”

But a very concise question has been raised during the past few months and had to be clarified before starting the event: was the conversation going to turn around the broad concept of immigration as a whole or was it going to be narrowed down to the more concise speech about illegal immigration carried by some politicians during the campaign period?

“The idea of someone being illegal is a very flaw thing to say, people do illegal things,” Alannah Boyle, junior student and CRS student ambassador, said. “People that cross here illegally they do an illegal thing to get into this country but that doesn’t mean that they are an illegal person, and that is a very important distinction to make if we’re going to talk about human beings.”

According to Boyle, everyone has a story, a family, and a reason to leave where they come from to look for a better life, and each story of each person who came to the United States is different based on the situation they were born to: the color of their skin, their religion or their socioeconomic status.

“I think that this is the kind of confusion that is really felt when people are sitting in immigration offices and they are not speaking the same languages or not really understanding paperwork, sometimes I can’t understand paperwork in English,” Micaela Bishop, a third year student, said. “I think that really brings into effect the feeling of being in the same kind of situation.”

The group of student ambassadors was pleased with the result of the evening and the conclusions that people deducted from the exercises performed.

“I feel like that even though this is such a complex and multifaceted issue, I think that there are a lot of people who knew very little if nothing at all about the immigration process in this country and about how immigration works and I do think that for some people were able to sort of start that dialogue and I hope that they will continue that dialogue as they leave here today and I also think that maybe putting some names and stories and faces to the issue humanizes it in a way that the next time this issue comes up people don’t just change the channel or start talking about something else that they feel is more important. They now feel a little bit responsible for the topic,” Boyle said. “As a citizen of this country you have the right to go talk to your representatives and you have the right to petition for things, and write letters and the power is on our hands. So we are all part of the problem but we are also all able to be part of the solution and I hope that people leave here today knowing that.”

For more information about this topic and other ones such as Fair Trade, water, or sanitation, visit the CRS University page.