Racy Forum

Students discuss illegal immigration and the DREAM Act at November Race Relations Forum

Sheer numbers make illegal immigration a hot-button issue in public education policy. The Dallas Morning News estimated in 2010 that upwards of 150,000 illegal immigrants currently attend Texas public schools.

But because Hockaday is a private school, the extent to which education should be provided to people living in the United States, in particular to those doing so unlawfully, isn’t a topic of immediate concern.

Last Thursday, Nov. 10, however, the Race Relations Board presented students with the opportunity to discuss the issue with their peers during a guided forum. The forum focused on examining illegal immigration and education, especially the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.

The forum began with a PowerPoint presentation by members of the board. It outlined the rules for the forum, which ensured that discussion yielded constructive results and avoided offending any students. The presentationalso provided information on the history and current status of illegal immigration and summarized the DREAM Act.

After viewing the presentation, attendees were split into smaller groups, each led by a board member, to discuss the main question of the forum: “To what extent should illegal immigrants be afforded education?”

Groups also responded to more specific questions relating back to the larger topic of public education for illegal aliens.

“We tried to look at whether immigration was actually beneficial or detrimental towards American society in general and our education system in particular,” board member Annie Zhu said.

Groups discussed the issues of amnesty for immigrants and the economic concerns of immigration as well as the harms and benefits of passing the DREAM Act. The act, which has failed five times to pass through congress, would allow illegal immigrants to attain residence. Residence wouldat first be conditional and then become permanent after immigrants attended an institute of higher education or served in the military.

In the forum, groups brought to the table many considerations, discussing the practical and ethical arguments for and against the DREAM Act (and more generally illegal immigration).

More than in past forums, “the discussions in this forum drew a lot from politics and current events,” board member Isabel Vazquez said, “I think we succeeded in educating people about the political issue of illegal immigration.”

– Mollie