Immigration has become a highly popular topic with the presidential election coming just around the corner in November. The candidates are expected to have a heated discussion on immigration at the upcoming presidential debate.
Sinclair will be having their own conversation on immigration on a local level here in Dayton. They will be hosting a facilitated discussion on local immigration Thursday, September 22.
According to Jacqueline Housel, the Associate Professor of Geography, this discussion on immigration will help students go outside of their group and meet other people who may be different from them.
“We do have a pretty diverse population here at Sinclair. What our objective is to help students make connections and network with people outside of their group. We want to get them to know people from all different backgrounds who maybe approach things from a slightly different perspective, but at the same time understand that we are all similar in many ways,” she said.
According to Housel, immigration is a human’s rights issue and it is an important issue that students should learn about.
“We are all more similar to each other than different and hopefully start to establish more relationships amongst people. That really is the point,” she said.
The event, according to Housel, is a good way for students to get to know people who are from different backgrounds.
Immigration has become a recent hot topic, with President Obama’s goal of reaching 10,000 Syrian refugees being succeeded on August 31. There has been talk of exceeding that goal as well. Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for President, opposes letting Syrian refugees settle in the country, saying that “they are letting tens of thousands of people come in from Syria and nobody knows who these people are and a lot of those people are ISIS.”
“There is no doubt that the national conversation about immigration has been mixed and at times has been largely unfavorable,” Housel said.
According to Housel, this is largely because of global terrorism, the economic decline and political and media discussions on immigration.
However, Housel said that Dayton decided to do something that was different than the national conversation.
“It is in this environment that Dayton went against the grain and decided to start community conversations that asked the question: What is possible if Dayton became a city that intentionally welcomed immigrants?” she said.
On the local level, Ohio governor John Kasich said last November that he will not be welcoming Syrian refugees into Ohio, however, Dayton’s mayor, Nan Whaley, said that Dayton will take in refugees if the Obama administration asks for help.
According to Housel, she has a different experience with immigrants and that the first step is meeting them and talking to them about their experience, which is what the Voices conversation will do.
“It puzzles me sometimes, these national conversations, that are taking place because it seems so unlike the experiences I personally have had, the relationships I’ve had with immigrants… once you meet someone face to face and you have a conversation with them and you share a part of your own personal experiences, you tend not to be so scared or fearful of them,” she said.
According to Housel, Dayton is one of the leaders in the nation for welcoming immigrants. She said that 4% of the total population in Montgomery County are immigrants.
“One of the first steps to understanding these national issues might be to look around locally and see what’s happening locally,” she said.
According to Housel, this discussion will open students up to a new understanding of where they come from and how similar they are to people from different places.
“A part of this is just recognizing that even though we may come from different places that we all share some experiences as well. That’s what we find when students have these conversations as well,” she said.
The session will start with a panel of immigrants who are asked questions about the experiences they have had moving to the United States and how they came to Dayton. Then, the participants are asked to join a small group where they will share their thoughts as it relates to a specific questions.
“I think that they will enjoy these small group discussions, just to get to know other students who are both from the Dayton area and others who have moved here from outside of the Dayton area,” Housel said.
The conversation is open to public and not just Sinclair students. According to Housel, that is important because the conversations take place beyond Sinclair, so everyone is welcome to attend.
“These discussions, these voices, are happening all over Dayton and so it’s not limited to just Sinclair College,” she said.
The facilitated discussion on local immigration will take place on Thursday, September 22 in the Stage Area of Building 8. It will take place between 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.