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Pastor Tracey and Ruth Smith are involved with the Interfaith Leaders of Greater Lafayette (ILGL). ILGL is a coalition of leaders of religious institutions and organizations in greater Lafayette dedicated to dialogue, service, hope, and a shared vision for our local community and united to create and support a community of respect, dignity, and responsibility for all. Through ILGL, we hope to create an atmosphere of hospitality, belonging, compassion, and
safety, where the city can stand firmly together in our diverse beliefs.
The group meets regularly to learn about issues facing the greater Lafayette community, engage in critical dialogue about these issues, and invite common responses to them. The goal is to disseminate resources, promote events, and connect individuals in our faith communities to initiatives furthering our vision for the greater Lafayette community and promote increased understanding of various faiths and how our faith informs our values.
For the past several months, ILGL has been focusing on the issue of immigration. Dr. David Atkinson, history professor at Purdue, shared a historical context for immigration restrictions in the United States, noting that restrictions based on national origin and religion are nothing new. Susan Brouillette, director of the Immigration Clinic at LUM, presented an Immigration 101. Finally, Dr. James McCann, professor of political science at Purdue, presented on the civic life of Latino immigrants at our meeting on April 19.
Dr. McCann shared that 43-44 million U.S. residents are foreign-born, a significant increase having more to do with the demand for migrant labor in the construction, agricultural, and medical industries since the 1980s than the changes in federal immigration legislation in the 1960s. Today, roughly 1 in 8 U.S. residents are foreign-born, which is comparable to the early 19th century. The process of integration is, as Dr. McCann put it, “clunky” but is part of our historical process as a nation.
Through his research with Latino immigrants (citizens, documented, and undocumented), he found that immigrants may be more American than U.S.-born residents. This is based on feelings about the flag, the U.S. government, and voting. Overwhelmingly, Latinos living in the U.S. have a positive view of the U.S. government and feel that voting is a duty, not a choice unlike data on U.S. born residents, which have a relatively negative view of the government and feel that voting is a choice rather than a duty. Second, the immigration rights movement has persisted since the 2006 demonstrations against legislation passed by the U.S. House that would make it a felony to be in the United States illegally. While this movement has morphed, data shows that there is still a strong network that can be activated. Finally, he found that among Latinos, major political disappointment does not equal civic withdrawal. Most those surveyed do not desire to return to their country of origin, even if they view the country moving in the wrong direction, indicating that their sense of belonging and partisan identification has not been shaken, even post-2016 election. Dr. McCann is currently conducting further research on the resilience of this population as the Trump Administration is more established.
Beginning this summer, ILGL will turn its focus to issues of hunger and homelessness in greater Lafayette.
Want to Get Involved with Issues of Immigration Locally?
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