ECCE Speaker Series: Immigration Simulation


Photograph courtesy of Naini Naresh

Students participate in the “immigration simulation” in the UIS student union building

On Tuesday, the Engaged Citizen Common Experience speaker series held an immigration simulation, simulating the process that people must go through when immigrating to the United States.

Each student was given an envelope containing a background with details on who they would be for the scenario with various nationalities and characteristics such as being rich or poor, educated or uneducated, and everything in between. The “profile” given to each student contained all of the information that is necessary for an immigrant going through the immigration process. Just like the actual U.S. immigration process, participants had to deal with all of the advantages and disadvantages that went along with their backgrounds. Along with this came the confusion, irritation, long lines, and waiting that go along with the U.S. immigration process. Students started at information tables, where, depending on their situation, they were directed to immigration lawyers, non-government organizations, U.S. Customs and Immigration, the Department of Homeland Security, and, more often than not, a waiting area.

One student, who, for the purposes of the simulation was an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador, made the mistake of going directly to Customs and Immigration, where he confessed that he was here illegally. Unlike in reality, where such a move would have likely resulted in his detention and deportation, the participant was kindly directed to speak to an immigration attorney, and, of course, wait in another long line. Here, he was told that he didn’t have the funds required to hire an immigration attorney. This change forced him to give up on his quest to become a documented citizen—forcing him to move forward as an undocumented immigrant with all of the risks associated with such a decision.

Other students had an easier time with the simulation than the student mentioned previously. For example, there was one participant who, in this scenario, was a Chinese millionaire intending to invest a million dollars in the United States. This made the student eligible for an investor visa. However, even this seemingly simple route into the United States involved a great deal of paperwork, running around, confusion, and of course, waiting.

The event was sponsored by the Department of Residence Life, the Organization of Latin American Students, Gamma Phi Omega International Sorority, Inc., the Pre-Law program, and the H.E.L.P Taskforce.

The next ECCE event will be “Being Color Brave Rather than Colorblind: Forming a Racially-inclusive Sociological Imagination” on Friday, April 6 at 1:00 PM in the Student Union Ballroom.