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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Second Annual Social Justice Conference Focuses on Undocumented Persons

On March 26, in a joint effort by the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Office of Student Leadership and Community Engagement and the Department of Sociology, the Second Annual Social Justice Conference took place on the third floor of the Campus Center.
The conference focused on global citizenship and how community members can piece together the puzzle that forms identity.
The conference was divided into two workshops where students gathered to share personal experiences and views on immigration and globalization. In both workshops, questions of diversity and progress were raised.
Natalicia Tracy, a UMass Boston professor of sociology and executive director of the Brazilian Immigrant Center located in Allston, spoke of Boston’s political stubbornness and decline in accepting immigrant communities.
Tim Sieber, department chair of anthropology—also at UMass Boston—explained the reasoning for such marginalization: embedded prejudice against immigrants within the political system.
State officials who may consider providing sustainable support are not. The difficulties immigrants are facing every day are not considered while doing policy work. To do so would require a radical push against the conservative majority within Massachusetts.
According to Sieber, the Pew Research Center published a study that says states with the highest immigration population are more anti-immigrant due to a response of fear. With that, politicians working towards aid for undocumented persons—especially within a Republican majority—raise the importance in “human” and “job” security.
Massachusetts, seeing a significant rise in immigrant populations within the past thirty years, has responded in fear to the influx, said Sieber. Part of this prejudice comes from the association of immigrants with crime. According to the American Immigration Council, based in Washington D.C., as immigration rates increase, crime rates have decreased.
“The prejudice of undocumented immigrants is [faulted] and it can be seen in our recent race for presidency…” said Sieber. 
Both Tracy and Sieber raised the following question: “What kind of progress would be required to create a more secular and welcoming community within Boston? Is there hope for Massachusetts in reevaluating some of our immigration policies?”
“…There has to be a huge shift in leadership and the majority is Republican…We can’t even get the bill through the senate floor!” exclaimed Tracy.
In closing, Jeffrey Pugh, assistant professor of conflict resolution in the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, stressed the importance in students gaining a well-rounded background, including meeting more people outside adopted social circles.
“I’d recommend you expand your circle of empathy,” said Pugh.