Although most of my higher education career was in administrative roles, I made sure to spend enough time in the classroom with students studying education methodologies, languages. A big part included pre-Columbian civilizations, a passion that combined intensive study and preparation at the university and very focused travel in Mexico, Central and South America.
In one of my classes I once met Susy Osorio, a student from Ecuador that had a lot of experience with travel abroad programs in South America. She soon joined our team and became an outstanding leader in our international study programs.
She also graduated number 1 in a class of over 2000 and was invited to speak at Metro State’s Commencement. In front of 10,000 family and friends of the graduates and a platform full of dignitaries, Susy, for the first time in history of the event, delivered her remarks in Spanish for the first 5 minutes.
During her presentation, she explained that the reason she was there that day and on that stage, was because she had won the lottery. The lottery she referred to was the “Diversity Visa Lottery” offered to citizens of countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.
There is a Bill introduced last February in the U.S. Senate called “Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment” (RAISE Act) offered by Senators Tom Cotton from Arkansas and David Perdue from Georgia that seeks to cut legal immigration and refugees in half. Among other things, the Bill does away with the diversity lottery, expresses a preference for immigrants that speak English and that have a professional skill.
Osorio, the University’s graduation Valedictorian would not have qualified on two counts: she spoke Spanish on arrival and was a lottery pick. As a matter of fact, no other immigrants in our history would have qualified unless they came from English-speaking countries with reputable educational systems.
That “English language” entry requirement speaks to a White racial preference that seeks to take us back to a time before Western Civilization led by America went into decadence. Although the Senate has the good sense to ignore the Bill and let languish without action so far, it nevertheless represents another attempt to Gerrymander in order to maintain a demographic superiority that is the basis for political power in our system.
It is no surprise that the Bill has been resurfaced by President Trump and is supported by Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions and Julie Kirchner, the former Executive Director of the far right immigration restrictionist group, Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). This also goes well with Secretary Session’s current attack on college and universities’ Affirmative Action programs that would deny student body diversity in favor “merit” in admissions.
There seems to be an urgency to deny opportunities for minorities and immigrants to find their footing in America perhaps because the level of success in doing so is increasingly apparent. We find, for example, that Harvard will for the first time, have an incoming Freshman class to be majority minority and Latinos are outstripping other groups including Whites in the rate of admissions to higher education by at least 2 percent.
Recently, Stephen Miller, a Senior Adviser to the President defended the RAISE Act by denigrating the poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty that says in part: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free...” The poem represent the character of our immigration tradition and truth to power dictates that this ideal remain forever.