The Easterner

EWU Immigration Conference Addresses Student Worries

By Logan Stanley, Staff Reporter

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Cathi Tactaquin, executive director and co-founder of National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR), gave a keynote address to students and faculty at Showalter Auditorium titled “Immigration and the Trump Presidency.”

After the speech, EWU treats attendees to lunch, followed by a series of workshops.

Tactaquin, who co-founded the NNIRR in 1986, spoke on a number of topics, including the president’s executive orders issued on immigration and traveling, sanctuary status and the outlook of immigration under Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The speech came after a five-week span, during which political unrest spread across the nation. This is after an executive order was passed that barred citizens of seven pre-dominantly Muslim countries from entering into the U.S. Opponents called the sanctions unconstitutional, and a court ruling stayed the order on Feb. 9, and by mobilizing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The underlying theme of the speech addressed the worry regarding the recent mobilization of ICE and the new rules on immigration laws.  

According to an article by The New York Tmes, the new enforcements coincide with the hiring of 10,000 new ICE officers, which is set to take effect soon.

“For immigrant communities, it’s a period of a lot of fear and anxiety, of shock,” said Tactaquin. “The worry about family separation, about people being deported, loss of income. I think it’s tragic that some of the community organizing that loss are helping people to set up their legal documents so that if they’re deported, their parents are deported, it’s clear who will be caring for their children, what will happen to their property.”

For Tactaquin, the daughter of an immigrant Filipino farmworker, the issue of immigration is a personal one. She said her upbringing certainly aided her entry into immigration reform.

The network Tactaquin helped launch “actively builds alliances with social and economic justice partners around the country” by supporting local organizers, engaging with communities, implementing educational services and promoting legislation advocacy with officials on the local, state and federal level, Tactaquin said.

The NNIRR also functions internationally, collaborating on migrant rights with the U.N. and working with other venues to develop policy.

As well as the NNIRR, there is a program titled “JustBorders,” which is intended to serve as a tool to advocate against further militarization of the country’s borders.

“We’re trying to raise awareness about what’s happening at the U.S.-Mexico border,” said Tactaquin. “We’ve found that national policy is kind of out-of-sight, out-of-mind. Most people don’t really know what’s happening at the U.S.-Mexico border, how militarized it is.”

Awareness is needed surrounding the topic of immigration, EWU senior Sokridanny Bunt, said. To Bunt, immersing oneself is vital to being aware.

“To truly understand the importance of immigrants and why they make America great, Trump needs to dive into communities where immigrants are residing and learn about their culture,” Bunt said.

Friday’s address was the latest of many for Tactaquin, who said she has seen a surge of activism lately.


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EWU Immigration Conference Addresses Student Worries