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Reaching a Fever Pitch

Reaching a Fever Pitch

I knew the issue of illegal immigration was heating up when in my own northern Virginia community, residents crammed town hall meetings to express concern about the largely Hispanic group of day laborers who gathered each morning at the local 7-Eleven looking for work. Some of the meetings got downright ugly. Among the major points of conflict was whether tax dollars should be used to finance an official day laborer site.

Many residents supported such a site, where workers and potential employers would be monitored. However, a number of residents opposed tax dollars being spent on anything that would benefit illegal immigrants.

I knew the issue was really heating up when local and national news crews started doing their live shots outside that now infamous 7-Eleven.

Although the TV cameras are gone and the workers have moved on to their official site, it seems the issue of illegal immigration will be with us for awhile.

Interestingly, there appears to be a real disconnect between public opinion and public policy on this issue. For example, Congress is working on legislation that would provide lawful employment to undocumented workers, even as some polls indicate that approximately 60 percent of Americans oppose guest-worker programs.

Illegal immigration affects all aspects of American life, from the security of our borders to its affect on health care, education, business, civil rights, you name it. My sense is that most Americans want an immigration policy, and one that will be enforced. But it’s a delicate subject for everyone. Politicians don’t want to run afoul of what may eventually become a powerful voting bloc, and people who are uncomfortable with immigrants or immigration don’t want to appear racist or xenophobic.

But since education is what we do, Diverse contributing editor Dina Horwedel in “For Illegal Students,  An Uncertain Future” focuses on the dilemma many undocumented students face when considering higher education. Some undocumented high school students, for instance, don’t even consider college because they know they can’t afford the higher out-of-state tuition some schools must charge them. And those who make it to college may have to jump additional hurdles when the time comes to look for a job. Our new senior editor, Christina Asquith, spoke with some college-aged illegal immigrants at a pro-immigration rally in Washington, D.C., last month. It is evident that many of them feel like their education and futures are in limbo.

Online editor Shilpa Banerji in “Manning The Ship” turns our attention to the phenomena of men who have become chairs of women’s studies departments. Though experts say it’s not a significant trend, the examples discussed in Banerji’s article have created a stir among some female professors and graduate students at those schools. Dr. David G. Allen, the newly appointed chair of women’s studies at the University of Washington, has taken all the media attention and outcry in stride.

“I have long argued, and attempted to model, that people like me who are unfairly privileged by gender and skin color have the greatest moral imperative and resources to resist that privilege,” he says. 

I trust you will find stories in our news sections to have much of the same bite as our features in this edition. We’re working hard to bring you quality coverage of timely issues.

Hilary Hurd Anyaso

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