Cronkite Special to AZLatinos.com
Immigration is not a new concept and the past 100 years has been full of debate, successful and failed immigration reforms, as well as a rise and fall of immigration in general. The hot topic right now is Latino immigration – and Pat Toftoy knew as far back as a year ago that she wanted to address this topic, stating, “We are all immigrants from somewhere.”
Lisa Magana, PhD., of Arizona State University’s School of Transborder Studies was asked to speak at the Scottsdale Civic Center Library by Toftoy on this topic and drew quite a crowd. Toftoy had been working on a Latino grant and was in contact ASU’s Dr. Christine Marin and, according to Marin, Magana was the perfect candidate to speak on Toftoy’s desired topic. Marin said that she is knowledgeable on topics such as Arizona, immigration reform and public policy. Marin said, “when she [Toftoy] brought up theme of politics I thought of Lisa because of all the work she has been doing in politics.”
Magana started off with something similar to a history lesson. Drawing interest from everyone in the auditorium, she started by going back to 1910, when immigration was at it’s highest in the U.S. However, things took a different turn in the 1920s. At this point, the quota limit laws were passed to put a limit on how many people of a certain race were allowed into the country – except Western European protestant. Magana set the stage for a topic that is now on the forefront of this election cycle.
As she took the audience on a journey through the last 100 years in immigration a clear pattern appeared: there has always been attempts to reform immigration policy. Then, the 1965 Immigration Act passed and people were allowed to come in without a quota on race. Then the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) passed with two major provisions. The first was to stop the economic lure of jobs and the second was amnesty, the act of letting certain immigrants become legal in the U.S while not granting citizenship.
Her speech brought to light the discriminating side of the anti-immigration propositions such as SB1070 and provision 287G. Ultimately, Magana states, “immigration is very personal.” And the recent issues with politics are not making things better. “When politicians come off as anti-immigration it comes off as being anti-Latino,” said Magana.
This speech made an impact on the people in the room. Afterward, there was a discussion between Magana and people who attended and everyone left with open minds and possibly a new point of view. One attendee was John Galles, a Scottsdale resident and retired restaurant manager. He was full of questions on the topic. “I just wanted to know how we got to this point in our nation,” said Galles. This was a sentiment shared by many of the people in the room during the question and answer session at the end; but, the speech also changed the way he looked at things, “I think that the politicians and the people that contribute to their campaigns control too much of our society, particularly immigration.”