Alan LeBaron: Immigration conference focused on solutions
by Alan LeBaron
Guest Columnist
November 08, 2010 12:00 AM | 1750 views | 33 33 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
On Oct. 28-30 Kennesaw State University hosted a Conference on Immigration in the Southeast, which some reporters and readers of the MDJ thought slanted toward pro-immigration, and that the conference might be connected in some way to the Kennesaw student who was arrested in March for not having proper immigration documents. I was the main organizer of the conference.

So why did we have the conference? In a nutshell, I wanted an academic conference that would analyze problems associated with legal and illegal immigration, and to propose possible "solutions." I realize that some people see the problem and solution as rather straightforward, i.e. the problem being illegal immigrants and the solution being deportation.

Many of the problems we should be able to agree on. The conference was to recognize many deep and complex problems associated with "undocumented" or "illegal" immigration, to include the overcrowding of schools, burdens on law enforcement, and the chaos of a broken immigration system that Washington has been afraid to fix. These problems and many others were discussed during the conference, and some conference participants presented research on the human suffering of the immigrants themselves, and on the children of immigrants.

To my knowledge no one at the conference advocated for the deportation of all or even most illegal immigrants. Neither did they advocate for open borders. There would be disagreement as to the details of the various solutions, but a broad agreement held that a "comprehensive" immigration reform is necessary, in other words conference goers generally accepted some kind of amnesty rather than mass deportations.

True, laws must be obeyed, and we must remain "a nation of laws." But the interests and needs of a nation are not static, and laws need constant review and oftentimes major alteration to maintain national strength and self-interest. The general conclusion among professor-types who study illegal immigration is the belief that a comprehensive or amnesty bill is within the economic interests of the United States, and in keeping with American values and morals.

Erecting a Berlin style "taco wall" or "hamburger wall" followed by mass deportations would create new problems. As the world is now globalized, and the United States increasingly faces fierce competition from China, India, Brazil, and elsewhere, we have to think long and hard about the needs of our nation in the 21st century. No immigration policy should be formed on the basis of local perspectives alone; and certainly not based on the passions and emotions of either the "pro" or "anti."

No proposal to present research at the conference was rejected for political perspectives. The only criteria was to propose a presentation based on academic data or professional experience. I read all of the proposals and organized the schedule. No one proposed a presentation advocating sealed borders or mass deportation. If someone had, and if the proposal had an academic or professional argument attached, they would have been accepted.

The conference was not a secret; and no effort was made to make it so. Dozens, more like over a hundred, faxes and emails went to departments at universities around the South, and the "call for proposals" went to the national website for academic conferences at the University of Pennsylvania. Some 150 people attended the conference, mostly from Georgia but also from Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, North and South Carolina, California, New York, Alabama, Nigeria, Brazil, and Mexico.

Planning for the conference began over a year ago, and was designed as a follow-up to the immigration conference hosted by Kennesaw in 2006, and the conference held at the University of South Carolina in 2008.

The majority, but not all, of the panels dealt with Hispanic or illegal immigration. One paper focused on Nigeria, one on Afro-Caribbean immigrants, another on Muslims, and several discussed the complex relations between American Black and Hispanics.

Actually most of the conference would have been pretty dry to most people. Imagine yourself sitting in a day long class hearing professors speak on and on about their research, showing slides of charts, graphs, and data.

The role of the university, besides preparing students for the 21st century, is to explore many options, do intense research, and bring the results of best ideas to the public and our students. It is correct to say that the views of most academics who study immigration are not in agreement with the current political trends in immigration policy, but I think, I hope, we have come to these views after honest research and analysis.

Alan LeBaron is Professor of Latin American History at Kennesaw State University. He served in the U.S. Air Force 1966-70 and received a Ph.D. from the University of Florida in 1988. In 2005 he received KSU's Distinguished Service Award.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
June 24, 2011
What's the score? Are the Republicans winning because of the new GA immigration laws or are the Democrats winning now? I can't keep up.

Meanwhile the American people continue to compete for their political parties and yet I can't see any progress. How about all the people who want to start deportation and building the "wall," just open up their wallets a little wider. Because when Latino immigrants are all deported and the cost of your way of life has sky rockets, let's hear what you have to say then. Especially the Republican small business owners who rely on the cheap, reliable, and efficient labor to make your profits.

Kudos to LeBaron for trying to find solutions, however, I think what is needed is economics 101 for the majorty of the American people. Educate yourself on global markets and geography.

Oh and I hope you have more money to shell out when your patriotic bubble bursts.
November 13, 2010
actually anonymous I volunteered in one of those foreign countries for two years. So I've already followed your suggestion, thats my education in the issue. Whats yours?

Whether you snuck in or not, it has LONG been upheld by law that constitutional rights, among several others extends to ANYONE within the countries borders not just citizens. If those rights are not being enforced because of recent events then those people doing it are the true judicial activists, changing the most important documents of our nation to fit their whims.

Now, why dont you try basing your arguement in substance rather than cliche? Otherwise, you're boring me, badly.
November 12, 2010
I recognize this is probably a waste of my time since I don’t think anyone is listening but rather just focusing on their rebuttal.

First, I have been to the hospitals and clinics you mention and not just to observe and make judgments but to actually interview staff on these exact issues. I agree that our hospitals –especially the emergency rooms- are trying to operate well beyond capacity. If the families had affordable access to care (like prenatal) and other preventative care, then I do believe we could eliminate many of the current ER visits. The fact that the system is not adapting to this issue does not mean that the patients are at fault for your frustrating wait in the ER.

Also, Maya are not just from Mexico and the families living here are mostly from Guatemala- a country that just recently emerged from a civil war were thousands were murdered. Many of the families here should be granted asylum for all they have experienced and fled from. So you cannot assume all Latin looking people are Mexican.

Lastly, my words are not from some idealistic pageant speech about “eliminating world hunger and creating world peace for all”. I study these issues both from an academic standpoint AND through field research. So, if academics and real world investigations are not they way to understand the issues- than what do you suggest? Your approach appears to be creating ill-informed assumptions and that will get us nowhere.


November 11, 2010

"Now, to other matters, I would remind you all, that when you go to a foreign country, any country, it is not a legal "open season" on you just because you are not a citizen of that land"

Did I sneak into that country in the dark of night?Am I taking a job that a native is losing because of me. Is some native's child being deprived because I took his father's job?? Am I being paid off the books to refute the fact that they pay taxes?? Am I taking the money from a native son, living in cramped quarters , all to send that money to another country of my birth where I am afraid to speak up to change it??So ,instead I come to America because it is loaded with Self Hating Americans who will behave in a treasonous way and give preference to me over the wishes of the majority of its citizenry??

I suggest AK that you got to a third world country with your beloved illegals and your liberal professors and the rest of the Self hating , Zinn educated liberals and help to reform the other countries. Then there will be no reason to steal into another country to improve their lives.

November 11, 2010

It is not only MBA you can't see. You cannot see the harm that is happening to our country. Read the letters again and remove the blinders from your eyes . It is easy to find MBA.

Life is not fairyland.

Fools like you are the true bigots in the sense that in your little Happy Land anyone who disagrees with you is a bigot, even when they are right.

to AK
November 10, 2010
"ILLEGAL" is not just "a word" in banking,. or are a non thinker.

A Lib.

It shows.

You guys are a small group for a reason! hahaahaha
November 10, 2010
you're still playing semantic games. Healthcare is not the same as having access to hospitals, nor does the fact that there is access assure that they are treated as any other person in that hospital.

are you confused or are you twisting words to fit your own assumptions?
Samuel Adams
November 10, 2010
Simple and Tired, good point to Miss Krista Peace Corps. Miss Krista, have you been to an American emergency room lately? Have you been to the maternity ward at Northside Hospital?

Maybe you were out of the country when all this occurred, but it seems to me that, while American citizens who have good health insurance are charged out the wazoo for care, they are also paying for the babies and the mothers who are here illegally, having sonograms and seeing all the best physicians thru some government program or another. Have you been to Children's Health Care of Atlanta? Last time I was there with my daughter, who was having an appendix emergency, we waited and waited behind entire extended families of obvious foreign nationals. I don't know whether they were legal or illegal immigrants or not, but the doctors there are obligated BY LAW to treat not just the child with the runny nose, but every flipping aunt and uncle who has a sore throat or, worse yet, a chronic, expensive illness such as diabetes.

That same American system you say your Maya project is working to change has already been caring for and overloaded by illegal entrants to our country. It is us taxpayers who get the shaft, not Mexican mothers and babies. They get the gold ring, and then keep right on demanding every entitlement they can get, which is a lot.

Your bleeding heart needs to become informed. And I'd suggest academia is NOT the place to find the answers. All you find there are pie in the sky, idealistic dreams of a world without borders. Unsustainable, but then people like yourself don't want to see that point.
Simple and tired
November 10, 2010
Anonymous said: My work here is to help the families and children already living in the United States have equal access to maternal and child healthcare. My platform issue is access to healthcare no matter your immigration status because it is a basic human right.

Anonymous then said: There is a reason why hospitals and schools serve all children and families- its because morality and values sometimes do trump certain laws.

Seems if the hospitals and schools are already serving all children and families, you really don't have much to do to get folks equal access to maternal and child healthcare.

Are you confused? Or just don't recognize that the problem you have focused on does not really exist?
November 10, 2010
What I see is that illegal immigration is a subset of immigration and that anyone who wasnt hamstrung by rhetoric would be able to infer that is what is being referenced.

Now if you really want to respond I invite you to go more substantive and not merely semantic.
November 10, 2010

Can anyone see the difference?
November 10, 2010
Okay, now to bring this back to basics and remove some of the rhetoric.

Are we sure that there is a reason to say perspectives were in fact, not considered, because of their politics? Does anyone who is jumping to call the people behind this event socialist liberals actually have a reason for saying that? Is there evidence? a legitimate paper or presenter who tried to be included but was not?

Now, to other matters, I would remind you all, that when you go to a foreign country, any country, it is not a legal "open season" on you just because you are not a citizen of that land. The same works here. There are rights and legal protections given to everybody, and then those given to citizens. Is there anything wrong with discussing where that line is? If we are going to roll out any anti-imigration plan, shouldn't that talk take place?
Robert Johnson
November 10, 2010
Repulsed: try reading the signature on the below "anonymous" post for one place to see how goofy and vacant you sound. It is signed by "Miss MBA' Try harder.
Dear repulsed
November 10, 2010
There are plenty of well researched acedemic arguments on controlling immigration. ( Like Mexico does) You are not aware of them because you aren't allowed to be exposed.

Try Center for Immigration Studies, NumbersUSA, FAIR, the Borjas blog ( George Borjas, Harvard) and a multitude of others. You just made D.A. King's point so very well. You get only one side and think you are so far above anyone who knows the other. Typical arrogant lib.

King cites provable facts and gets called names for his trouble. You are an intolerant unfunny joke and so is LeBaron.

Whay was thay again? Mayans, Mexicans and suburban trafiic...??? haahahahahaha
November 10, 2010
I am ashamed to live in a place so full of hatred and intolerance. The majority of these comments are coming from small-minded bigots who cannot even read a letter and understand its content, no less comprehend the intricacies of immigration--its history and future. I encourage all of these anti-immigrant proponents to find an academic argument supporting their position. I would love to read it.

And I see references to a Miss MBA, but no post from this so-called Miss MBA. Could it be that the MDJ has removed from the discussion a well-thought-out comment and left the ones that support the paper's position? "Shame on you," MDJ. (Where have I heard that phrase before?)
KSU Student
November 09, 2010
This is one student who's read this letter and is thoroughly angry with KSU for the mounting injustices that Dr. Papp and others send our way... the Colotl Caper, the Immigration Embarrassment, and the Football Flap among countless others. I'm not the betting kind, but I'm tempted to say I'd lay money on the fact that the UNNECESSARY football program is going to get the green light after the vote is done - despite the fact that our hard-earned money will go down the tubes with the hundred-dollar fee increase. Somebody with the vocal power needs to throw the religious protesters off the grounds and start rallying against these irresponsible people!
November 09, 2010
I did serve our country during my two years in the Peace Corps and will continue to work for human rights here in Georgia. So, I do not exactly equate living in a rural village to sitting around sipping lattes.

All of these hateful comments only further justify the need for the Maya Heritage Project. My work here is to help the families and children already living in the United States have equal access to maternal and child healthcare. My platform issue is access to healthcare no matter your immigration status because it is a basic human right. There is a reason why hospitals and schools serve all children and families- its because morality and values sometimes do trump certain laws.

"Miss MBA"

Krista Czerwinski

Kennesaw State University

Peace Corps Maya Project GRA
Culture warrior
November 09, 2010
According to Chamberlain (2005), culture represents “the values, norms, and traditions that affect how individuals of a particular group perceive, think, interact, behave, and make judgments about their world”

MBA - here in the US, our culture is to speak English, love our country, have borders and to insist that the law is enforced...even for illegal immigrants. It works if we will only try it.

The title of the conference has nothing to do with the actual event. Amnesty is not the solution. Note the socialist presenter who opposes enforcement and deportations...the punishment for illegals. You would reward them in the name of enlightenment.

Get your nose out of the air, you "ain't too smart." And YOU move on if you don't like it.
Robert Valdez
November 09, 2010
Immigrants already here are not a big is the illegal aliens that cause the concern.

Big Difference MBA.
Bill W Acworth
November 09, 2010
everyone here should read D.A. King's column again.

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