Dr. Alexandra Pineros-Shields, Brandeis, to Speak at Needham Immigration Public Forum, February 28
Dr. Alexandra Piñeros-Shields, Brandeis, to Speak at Needham Immigration Public Forum, February 28
Needham residents will have an opportunity to take a seat at the table to debate the benefits of comprehensive immigration reform. On Thursday, February 28, a free public forum entitled “Immigration: How Do We Fix a Broken System?” will be held 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm at the Needham Free Public Library. The program is co-sponsored by the Needham Area Immigration Justice Task Force and the League of Women Voters of Needham and features an invited speaker, Alexandra Piñeros-Shields, PhD, Senior Research Associate in the Center for Youth and Communities at The Heller School for Policy and Management at Brandeis University. Some of Dr. Piñeros-Shields’ expertise areas are immigration policy history, and cross-national immigrant solidarity, and public policy.
When Dr. Piñeros-Shields was finishing college in 1988, the civil war in San Salvador was raging. This was a war against the government supported by the US at that time under President Ronald Reagan. During 12 years of war, more than 75,000 people died and an unknown number disappeared. More than one-third of Salvadorans escaped poverty and danger by coming to the US. “People do not come to the US as a result of a progressive immigration policy,” says Dr. Piñeros-Shields. “They are pushed out of their countries for two reasons: economic policy and military policy. El Salvador is a poignant example of a military policy impact.” She continues, “NAFTA, the free trade policy with Mexico and Canada passed in 1994, is an example of an economic policy that forced migration. For example, when NAFTA took away tariffs on corn, corn farmers of Mexico could not longer compete with US farmers. As families lost income, they left Mexico for better lives in the US. Since the enactment of NAFTA, illegal immigration to the US has doubled. A wall was built at the border with the intent of monitoring this migration.
Today as the US Congress debates an immigration reform proposal from the Obama administration, and major media are closely following discussions, Needham residents can join the discussion and an opportunity to advocate. Comprehensive reform giving undocumented immigrants a humane path to citizenship is an essential feature. What this means, and the arguments for and against, can be discussed during Q&A following a talk by Dr. Pineros-Shields at the Public Forum, February 28.