SPJ stands up for immigrants


Brooke Schwartz

Spanish and Latin American Studies professor Kristin Routt and campus minister Doris Nordin discuss specifics of the nights events. “Everyone has dreams, continue fighting for them,” anonoymous, the video made and shown by the SPJ concluded, focusing on the importance of immigrants and of telling their stories.

Brooke Schwartz, Staff Writer

On Monday, Students for Peace and Justice showed their original documentary “I am Migration” for the second semester in a row.

The documentary focused on different undocumented immigrants in the Charleston community and their individual stories.

The overreaching message of the documentary was to show immigrants deserve respect, and that the mistreatment of them has lead to many innocent deaths, said Brenda Cuellar, the associate director of international students and scholars.

“We wanted people to see a different point of view, to see immigrants as humans, to see them as people who just want a better life for themselves and for their families,” Cuellar said.

Many of the immigrants in the documentary had to leave their families in their home country. One anonymous immigrant said they were happy, “but happiness alone is not enough.”

There has been very little change made to the contents shown since last semester, Cuellar said.

“The feedback from last event, it was pretty good. I think it sparked some interesting conversation, there were some people at the event who were pro-immigration reform and some who were not,” Cuellar said. “I think it was really neat to hear the perspective of so many different people and to be able to provide a different perspective on the immigration conversation in the US.”

Cuellar also said that interest in the event has grown with the concerns of the current administration, which was shown by many more people attending the documentary showing than last semester.

Brooke Schwartz
Junior sociology major Sandy Esparza and Evelin Reyes, a student from Honduras who is participating in The Language Company, an extensive English program on campus that provides carefully-designed English as a Second Language programs, discuss the documentary and the questions that were asked after. Some questions included personal thoughts on illigal immigrants and ways the US should regulate immigration.

The audience was a mix of interested and concerned students and local citizens.

Bonnie Buckley and Ellen Wolcott, two locals who reside in Charleston, said they made their way to campus to find out ways Charleston Huddle, a subset of the Women’s March on Washington, could help immigrants.

“We hear so many stories about the way immigrants have been treated so badly, and that’s not right,” Buckley said. “So I would like to change that environment so people are just welcome to our country.”

Cuellar said this affects everyone, as everyone is likely to know an illegal immigrant at some point.

She also said immigrants are not the problem, and, as the documentary pointed out, many take jobs that are considered less-desirable in order to allow their families to eat and go to school.

“We know a lot of people who are immigrants, and they are a huge benefit to this country, especially to Charleston,” Cuellar said.

The documentary mentioned the importance of the American dream in motivating immigrants to leave their lives behind and try their chance somewhere else.

This dream becomes harder to believe in, as since 1994, 6,000 people have died trying to cross the Mexican border, Cuellar said.

Despite the hardships many faced, the undocumented immigrants who were interviewed mentioned that it was worth it in the long run to come here.

One of the anonymous immigrants who was interviewed said while he reflected on his journey to America, “Everyone has dreams. Continue fighting for them.”


Brooke Schwartz can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]