Immigration is a topic that has divided many, but the people of Pelham Bay spoke of similar ideology on the topic.
Reforms that have been going through the Congress on immigration have been hotly debated for the past few months, leaving many with opinions that may or may not be popular.
Many different bills have been presented in the House of Representatives that would completely overhaul immigration laws that are already in place. Specifically, it would allow those who are already in the United States as illegal immigrants easier access to citizenship, while also bolstering border control. However, many House Republican leaders are calling for the dismantling of the bill and are asking for the bill to be passed little by little, which would only impede the process for both Representatives trying to pass the bill as a whole and for those who are seeking citizenship.
In Pelham Bay, there is usually a diverse opinion on the subject, but many felt the problem of immigration reform was not that hard to comprehend.
“I think everyone should be able to live the American Dream, but the reason we have a system is to make sure our country and citizens are okay,” Pelham Bay resident Amanda Mari stated about the issue of illegal immigration in the country. She went on to say that “You should have your papers. I know it’s hard to cross the border but it’s in the safety of America.” While safety is one specific issue at hand, another problem that comes along with immigration into the country is the question of educational opportunities.
The DREAM Act, which was proposed in 2009, allows for immigrants who grew up in the country illegally but were able to succeed in terms of higher education to gain temporary citizenship. Through this, they can gain a higher-level degree, which allows them to gain permanent US citizenship.
When asked about the educational opportunities at stake for this reform, Emily Brugman believed that if you are here, you get the same rights as anyone else.
“If they already crossed, they might as well be able to get an education here and live the life they came here for,” Brugman said about education and immigration going hand in hand. She went on to ask “Why can’t you be equal even if you are living the same life as the next person here?”
In terms of life for an immigrant, it may not be described as simple. Many face problems when trying to apply for jobs or for simple identification. Although resident Elizabeth Velez migrated from Puerto Rico, she still feels that being an immigrant of any kind is “hard.”
“People don’t treat you right. They look at you funny, and they aren’t very nice to you,” she said in regards to the treatment she and her family received when they came to the United States. She did receive education in Harlem, but never attempted to go beyond this level of schooling. When asked about this, Velez stated “There weren’t many opportunities for me. Not many were offered in any Harlem schools.” In these schools, there were high populations of Hispanic students, and opportunities were not “huge” for them, according to Velez.
“I think they should just let them be. No one should be considered an alien,” Brugman said. “Nobody is illegal. We are all human.”