Mexiculture sheds light on undocumented students
Published: Monday, February 27, 2012
Updated: Monday, February 27, 2012 13:02
On Thursday, Feb. 23, Mexiculture hosted the event "Undocumented in the U.S." in order to discuss and inform students about the difficulties faced by those who are undocumented in the United States today.
The organization first explained their mission to break the stereotypes within the Mexican community and educate others about Mexican culture.
They then followed with a brief presentation that included statistics on the number of undocumented people who live in the United States, the countries that they emigrated from, the amount of people who come across the border and the percentage of people who stayed longer than their visa permitted.
"What I wanted students to gain from that was to learn about what being undocumented was. That it wasn't just a Latino thing, or it wasn't just a Mexican thing," said Jorge Tovar, junior and president of Mexiculture. "Being undocumented applies to all ethnicities."
This, in turn, led to a discussion about what it means to be undocumented, as well as the hardships that are often faced by undocumented immigrants.
Club members and students shared personal experiences and opinions on the matter, mentioning how political problems could force people to leave and expect a better life.
However, due to their undocumented status, there is stigma that causes them to be viewed differently in the United States, which makes it harder for them to adapt.
Edgar Zarate, senior and secretary of Mexiculture, pointed out a few difficulties that are usually faced by undocumented people.
"What we wanted people to take out from ‘Undocumented in the U.S' would be for them to better understand what the undocumented actually experience, all the way to the U.S. and when they're here already." said Zarate.
"We just wanted to let them understand that it's a hard experience for them, leaving a country that they have everything set for them, and coming to a new country where they have nothing, pretty much. Unless they have family of course but it's still the same thing because they have to assimilate to the culture, they have to learn the language."
Following was a short clip of El Norte, which is a film about two Guatemalan immigrants who embark on a difficult journey for the United States. This later prompted a discussion about the conditions in which people traveled, how people were treated at the border, and how the United States was represented.
According to Tovar, media has heavily influenced the way that America is portrayed to the immigrants, as well as how Mexicans are portrayed to the public.
"When you hear the word ‘undocumented' the first thing you think of is Mexican, and the reason is because of media," said Tavor.
Tavor went on to explain the reasons why Mexicans are targeted by the media.
"Media puts that into our TV, the Internet or the news, which has a really big effect," he said. "The reason media uses Mexicans a lot is because the Mexican population is so big in the United States, 60 percent of Latinos are Mexican. Since we are the closest Latino country, and we are the largest, it's the reason why the media uses Mexicans a lot as a target, because we're such a large group."
To close the event, final remarks and comments were made about the major issues faced by undocumented people in America, also providing insight on their experiences during their journey.
Susan Lema,a junior at Baruch, who is an undocumented student from Ecuador, gave her take on how this event would have affected her indirectly as a student who is not undocumented.
"I know about the situation that many students are enduring, and many people," said Lema. "However, this event itself would have educated me to be knowledgeable about the situation itself and then share it with other people so that they're not ignorant to judge others the way […] how undocumented people are portrayed to be seen as. So it would have aided me in the help of being more knowledgeable, and help other people understand what the status of many people who are undocumented feels like."
Mexiculture will be holding a series of other events that will help students understand the diversity and history of Mexican culture.
"What we're trying to do is basically promote the Mexican culture," said Zarate. "We also want to bring attention to certain issues that are coming up. For example for the Mexico U.S. Relations event, we want to just basically have a run down of all the historical laws and what's currently going on."
Mexiculture also hopes to cosponsor future events with other Latino organizations in order to raise awareness of Latino culture