A lost opportunity

While the conventional narrative might suggest that the millions of undocumented immigrants in our country represent a blight on our economy and a threat to national security, there is increasing evidence that what these populations truly represent is incredible opportunity. Here in our area, it might seem peculiar to think that our local community has much at stake in the national discussion over immigration reform, but this would be a mistaken assumption.

On October 29th, Rural & Migrant Ministry and PathStone Corporation will host the Harvesting Justice Symposium. The event will feature open-ended discussion from a panel of experts on the topic of what our region would gain from the creation of a more immigrant-inclusive culture. Arguments will range from moral to political, from social to economic.

Speaking with Diana Hernandez, Membership Chair of the Latino Rotary Club of Rochester and educator by trade, what Rochester stands to gain from immigration reform can be seen clearly, to her mind, in the potential of our city’s children.

Ever year in the US, 65,000 undocumented persons graduate from public high schools. Of those graduates, only 5-10% have access to higher education. For Hernandez, this statistic is not just depressing, it is a waste.

"You have the potential of very talented artistic and scientific children who are coming through our systems, and we cap them at some point where they’re not able to further their education," Hernandez said. "These kids would be economically, socially and culturally enriching to our country.

But this last point, the potential for economic stimulus, is limited by one’s access to education. College, whether you are documented or undocumented, is a means by which to increase or maintain your socioeconomic status. If more undocumented persons had access to higher education, both our local and national economies would have much to gain from their increased earning and spending potential.

"They would add additional tax dollars to support the American economy. They would increase our nation’s viability and competitiveness."

Please join Rural & Migrant Ministry and PathStone Corporation for a vibrant and important discussion on October 29th at Temple B’rith Kodesh in Rochester at 3:30pm

Dr. John Ghertner

Greater Rochester Coalition for Immigration Justice

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