A common perception of immigrants coming into the United States to become citizens is that it is fairly straightforward or simple. This misunderstanding comes from people who have never gone through the grueling process themselves.
An immigration simulation event held Thursday, March 14, changed views of immigration for many. The event left attendees in utter frustration at the newly understood facts about coming to the United States legally and living here legally.
The simulation was very successful and evoked a lot of emotion similar to what is felt by those trying to become legal in the United States. During the simulation everyone was split up into groups, with each group representing a different person either trying to come into the United States legally or already in the United States and is trying to stay legally.
Each group had to advocate for a person with a particular situation and were given two chances at getting their person into the United States.
After participating in the simulation and desperately trying to get their assigned person in, many failed. Frustration and helplessness filled the room.
When the guest speaker started telling her story, the room buzzed with a mutual feeling of sympathy and understanding. Most of the people attending only had to deal with the frustration of immigration for the 25 minutes the simulation happened.
For one student at Neumann University, she lives it every day.
“Pretty much my family can be broken up at any time,” Maria Sotomayor, senior CRS Ambassador at Neumann University, said. “That is the reality of immigration.”
Sotomayor is in the United States on a visitor’s visa and talked about how when growing up she had different experiences than other people who went to school with her.
“I never felt different until I got to my junior and senior year of high school and everyone started getting their driver’s licenses,” Sotomayor said.
Sotomayor had similar experiences during these years of high school when it came to applying for college too. At the top of every college application there is a spot for a person’s social security number. Sotomayor doesn’t have one.
“I remember printing out applications to all these schools, filling them out and seeing the social security number at the top,” Sotomayor said. “I got so upset I just threw all of them out.”
Sotomayor story represents one of the millions of other stories of all those affected by the broken system of immigration in the United States. The immigration simulation brought awareness to all who attended.
“The event was really insightful and gave me so much information about immigration that I didn’t know,” John Rudder, sophomore exercise science major, said. “The fact that we went through the processes with the different situations we were given gave us a real life experience and made us walk in the shoes of those who go through the immigration process.”
A lot of planning went into the event.
“We started planning last semester and began with teaching the CRS Ambassadors Immigration 101,” Donald Powell, senior criminology and psychology major, said. “We met every Wednesday from 7 to 10 p.m. so it was a long process.”