Breaking Borders: My Experience Discussing Immigration With High School Students

By Gardenia Molina 

On March 31, Long Island high school students from the Student Voices Project joined Molloy College Social Work students to share their feelings on immigration. The event, which took place at Molloy, was hosted in collaboration with ERASE Racism, an organization that promotes racial equity in housing, public schools, and communities.

I was privileged to have the opportunity to attend the discussion. Immigration is a sensitive topic in this political climate for many; however, I met mature and respectful high school students from Elmont, Syosset, and Freeport that were open to speaking about the challenges that immigrants face.  The students led the discussion with well-developed questions based on the systemic oppression that immigrants face, while leaving their families, home country, and culture behind in search for a better life. The atmosphere was very comfortable for others to share their personal experiences. The students were mindful of others’ ideas and feelings about undocumented immigrants. As a junior in the Social Work program, I was blown away and incredibly impressed with the knowledge and critical thinking that the students expressed throughout our discussion.

This experience was very inspirational for me. I learned that immigration is a human rights issue. Immigrants come to this country in search for a better life to survive. It is a basic human right to have access to safety, education, and overall freedom. Coming together as a community is powerful. I realized the impact we can make together on social issues, such as immigration. The power is in our hands to bring these issues to light and stand as allies with undocumented immigrants. This can begin with starting a simple conversation and making others’ aware of the systemic barriers against immigrants. It is inhumane that immigrants live in constant fear for their lives. Change for immigrants begins through our voices and the first step is to unite as community.

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