…the only time I was a drain on the economy was when I was detained… ~Selam
On Tuesday, February 17th, people from all across the Twin Cities and throughout the state of Minnesota gathered in the Rauenhorst Ballroom at St. Catherine University for Breaking the Impasse VI– A Call for Immigration Reform. Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, executive director of NETWORK, Dr. Bruce Corrie, associate vice-president for University Relations and International Programs at Concordia University, and St. Kate’s alumna, Selam guided the evening discussion– sharing the work they have been involved in and how our broken immigration system has affected their lives and the lives of many others.
Sister Simone gave insight to what she experiences in DC–the challenges, progress, and work that still needs to be done around immigration reform. She shared with us the stories that she heard while on the second Nuns On The Bus tour in 2012–stories of young children becoming orphans because their parents were undocumented and deported, how Native American tribes were divided because many of the people lived on different ends of the border, how a young woman was found deceased, cradling the body of her small child as she attempted to escape the unlivable circumstances of her own country. Simone brought the truth to life in these stories, and encouraged all of us to look at immigration not as a single issue, but as a direct result of a larger problem– U.S. foreign economic and trade policy.
U.S. foreign economic and trade policy forces global migration. ~S. Simone Campbell, SSS
Simone left us all with an action piece– to become educated on U.S. trade and economic policies, to have conversations with our legislators about them, and to demand that reform needs to happen now.
S. Simone shared with us the stories that she and many other advocates for immigration reform have heard. Dr. Bruce Corrie, PhD told the story that no one hears– the contributions of the immigrant population to our country’s economy. It is a sad reality that the word immigrant is often associated with the words “economic drain”. However, Dr. Corrie shared with us his extensive research as an economics expert, which disproves that common belief. He gave statistics, specific examples that show the contributions of the immigrant population as they continue to create job opportunities, be among the highest number of people in the research and medical fields, and continue to share their rich and abundant diversity with American society.
The guest speaking portion of the night ended with St. Catherine Alumna, Selam. As a new American, Selam shared with us her journey through the immigration process. She shared with us the struggles and blessings that filled her life for years. She is a graduate of St. Catherine and holds her bachelor’s and master’s degree in nursing. She is currently a nurse practitioner and is faculty at a local university’s medical school–truth in the flesh–a new American who loves this community and who continues to contribute to this country. Selam left the audience with a few words….
…let others like me who are in your life know that they are not alone. Walk with them through the immigration process. Accompany them to hearings. Let them know that someone cares and that they are not alone. I wouldn’t have made it if I didn’t have the community I did then and the community I have now…. ~Selam
Tuesday night was beautiful. The room was filled not only with people but with hope as we continue to advocate for the millions in our country who do not have a voice. As we journey back into our individual lives, I ask you to reflect on where and for whom can you be that voice….
Jacqueline Salas, SJW Justice Office Program Assistant