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2012 Fall Issue 4 (October 12, 2012)

Immigration the Hot Topic at Hispanic Heritage Week

October 15, 2012
By Will Gray

Carleton’s Latin American Student Organization (LASO) celebrated Hispanic Heritage week as part of National Hispanic Heritage month. Every night, from Monday to Friday, LASO held events honoring and providing knowledge about Hispanic culture.

Immigration was the main topic of discussion, chosen to raise awareness about immigration policies in the United States. “The Interfaith Social Action Club contacted us about collaborating with their Immigration Week, and so we thought it would be best to merge some of our events,” said Maribel Zagal, co-chair of LASO.

“The week ended up focusing on celebrating Latin American culture, but also focusing on the impact that immigration and immigration reform [has] had on the Latin American community.”

It was also chosen due to its relevance to the immigrant advocate Jose Antonio Vargas, who was scheduled to deliver last Friday’s convocation. Friday’s convocation was cancelled, however, after Mr. Vargas was arrested and briefly detained by Minnesota Police officers on his way to Carleton.

The week began Monday night with a discussion on the politics of immigration, held at Casa Del Sol, which was facilitated by students from Women’s Activism house. On Tuesday, LASO held a potluck dinner and screening of 9500 Liberty in collaboration with IFSA (Interfaith Social Action).

The film, which was released in 2009, chronicles the intense eight-week period that followed the adoption of a law in Prince William County, Virginia that required police officers to question and demand identification from anyone who might be an undocumented immigrant, as long as they have “probable cause” for their suspicions. Due to the immediate negative social and economic effects of the law, it became extremely controversial and was eventually repealed.

Because the law is so similar to the infamous Arizona immigration law, the film drew significant attention and even won four awards.
WHOA (the Wellstone House of Activism) also became involved in the week’s festivities on Wednesday, collaborating with OIIL and LASO to host a Chili Night.

The purpose of the dinner was to discuss how immigration affects the Latin American immigrant community, as well as to challenge students to recognize both stereotypes about the Latin American community and the diversity of the immigrant community as a whole.  

On Thursday night, Casa Del Sol hosted Jose Antonio Vargas at a dinner open to all Carleton students and faculty. Zagal said that she had found Mr. Vargas to be an honest and candid person during the dinner, and expressed regret that he was unable to deliver his convocation speech to the Carleton community.

“He talked about how his role as a public figure is tricky for him,” Zagal said of Vargas’s openness when talking about his life as an immigrant advocate.
“This is one part of his life that has been put in the spotlight and he’s tried to balance it with trying to live a normal life.”

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