Immigration, A Border-Crossing Issue
I’m Becca, the new FCNL program assistant on immigration, human rights, and civil liberties. I’m thrilled to be a part of FCNL, particularly because I feel so lucky to have found an organization whose principles, priorities, and values resonate so well with my own. Originally, I hail from the Boston area, but I spent the last four years studying migration and development at college in Minnesota. While there, I first learned of FCNL’s work, and felt driven to join this collective of changemakers in DC.
I was fortunate to spend the spring of 2008 in Senegal, where I worked with a local development organization that provides migrants and their families with technical skills, literacy classes, and financial advising. There, I began to perceive just how complex the issue of immigration really is. As John Muir wisely said, “Tug on anything at all and you’ll find it connected to everything else in the universe.” This is certainly true of immigration. I learned to always ask the next question. For instance: Say you ask an immigrant whether he or she sends remittances home to family members. Then, you may ask whether those remittances affect decision-making on which members of the family receive a formal education. Then, you may ask whether education itself is a “push factor” contributing to an individual’s decision to migrate or a “pull factor” giving that person skills and qualifications to find employment in his or her country of origin. All of a sudden, immigration becomes much more than a one-dimensional issue.
Having returned to the United States after that experience, I am now able to carry with me the knowledge that immigration is an issue that crosses borders. While in Senegal I was able to work on immigration from what is primarily a “sending country,” from which immigrants leave for Europe or other destinations. Now, I have the opportunity to work on immigration with FCNL, our constituents, our partners in coalition, and others. The United States, as a country that receives immigrants, faces a related, yet different, set of issues than those of Senegal. I try to maintain an understanding of the complexity and interconnectedness of these issues as I work on components of comprehensive immigration reform such as family reunification, detention standards, and wage-law violations.
I’m looking forward to this year with FCNL as one that will change me at least as much as I effect change on immigration, torture, and other issues that may arise in the next few months. If you want to follow my blog on immigration, “It’s Our Community,” click here. I’ll be posting again soon!