The Notre Dame Hesburgh Lecture featured Dr. Gilberto Cárdenas as its speaker on Immigration October 11 at Seton Hill University (SHU). Cárdenas is the director of the Institute for Latino Studies at Notre Dame and is also the executive director for the Inter-University Program for Latino Research.
In his lecture, Cárdenas spoke of the origins of Mexican labor migration and his view on the problem of illegal immigration today.
“As a legal immigrant myself and married to a Mexican legal immigrant, I was curious to see what Mr. Cárdenas’s perspective on immigration would be,” said Dr. Judith Garcia-Quismondo, a SHU Spanish professor.
“I definitely liked his lecture, especially the historical background that he provided in the long and complex relationships between Mexico and United States,” she continues. “I thought it was important for students to know that many Mexicans did not ever cross the border, the border ‘crossed’ them, crossed what before had been Mexican territory for many centuries.”
Cárdenas stated several times that “every nation has the right to protect their borders”, but he also believes that the best solution to solving illegal immigration is to make legal immigration easier. Cárdenas says that Mexicans should have the right and ability to come to the USA legally, raise families and contribute to the economy. He believes that we should manage the borders, but have a more human approach to the topic of immigration.
Garcia-Quismondo said, “I had to reside in this country with different visas until I could finally obtain my Green Card, which took me five years since my first application, lots of paperwork and a considerable amount of money. Unfortunately, many families who want to come to this country in order to make better economically do not count on this sort of money, even if paid in installments.”
“I strongly agree that there should be a policy shift,” said Dr. Faszer-McMahon, Spanish professor. “There is a tendency to blame those who are most vulnerable, yet there are so many economical benefits for hiring on this side.”
Cárdenas made a point saying that the USA is a better nation today because of the Europeans that immigrated here, and immigrants today could also be beneficial to the country as they are hardworking and productive people.
“You cannot concede legal immigration to all the immigrants living in the United States without foreseeing before the consequences for the social and economic status of the country,” said Garcia-Quismondo.
“However, it cannot be denied that immigrants contribute as much as $10 billion to national economy every year, according to the National Research Council. With legal immigration, you maximize net taxation among citizens in this country,” she continued. “Additionally, recent studies shown in the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development report indicate that migration slows down considerably when there is an economic recession in the host country. Since immigration is linked to economic opportunity, I do not hold the view as some people do that immigrant workers will come and steal the few jobs available in a economy already in dire straits.”
“We are a better nation today because of immigration,” said Cárdenas, “we could be a better nation tomorrow because of immigration.”