The essence of an immigrant’s dignity A rebuttal to arguments said about immigration’s public perception

By: Jacob Khoury, Brian Igel, & Rene Betance

In response to an article published Sept. 23, 2015 concerning immigration and the current migrant crises, we feel that a response is necessary. In our opinion, this particular article seems to undermine the lives of immigrants and their often unfortunate circumstances.

The result of this seems to be a lack of consideration for those who, willingly or not, flee their homeland in hopes of a better life somewhere different.

MangalaWe hold that all lives have dignity, regardless of citizenship, race, religion, creed, etc. and we believe that this claim is self evident.

Because of this foundation, we find that the article from last week fails to take into consideration the position of the other.

We want to be clear. The lives of our own citizens do matter, and we agree that “DEA agents, border patrol and police officers” should have a voice in the current immigration discussion. But, given the principle stated above, so should immigrants themselves.

“They are more than numbers. They are humans.” We agree, but if we “first address the challenges that our own citizens face,” then we are inherently placing one person’s dignity over another’s.

In a way, because these particular immigrants are coming to us, we should not undermine or belittle their problems.

You could shut them out. You could ignore them. You could plug your ears and close your eyes and plead ignorance of the highest degree. But when undocumented immigrants live in our neighborhoods, work in our cities and attend our university, we cannot ignore them and their intrinsic human dignity.

Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights agreed upon by the United Nations ( UN) states that “everyone has a right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.” Why would anyone leave his own country?

Can you imagine how hard it is to leave behind your people, your culture, your language, your home? And yet people do. Every day people leave the places they know the best. Why? In the hopes of something better.

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Jacob Khoury, Brian Igel & René Betance’s article is a response to last week’s op-ed , “Is the grass greener on the other side?” Jacob Khoury is a senior biology and philosophy double major from Dallas. Brian Igel is a senior theology and philosophy double major from Columbus, Ohio. René Betance is a senior finance major from Chihuahua, Mexico.

They are people too. We all agree on this. And we cannot fault people for leaving their own country in the hopes of something better, a right the U.N. believes is fundamental to the lives of every human being. With this in mind, we do not think that the conversation should start with American citizens.

Instead, it should give the immigrants a voice equal to our own in progressing the immigration conversation.

One could easily perceive that this conversation is one-sided in America: It does not take into account the dignity of the human person, a human dignity shared by immigrants as well.

Whether it is a conversation in the political sphere, between friends or in the hallways and classrooms here at Xavier, this conversation must not be about the numbers, but rather the human.

The conversation should be about the father who leaves his family to find a better job, about the mother who faces unspeakable violence and treks across the desert so her children can see better lives or the sons and daughters who seek lives free of hatred and killings, of gangs and guns, who ultimately and unwillingly give up their own heritage in light of their culture falling to pieces.

Our goal not to chastise the writer of the aforementioned article. Rather, our goal is to open the doors to have a more productive and fruitful conversation regarding the current immigration situation.

As students at a Jesuit university, we must always keep in mind the voices of the vulnerable, and in doing so, must grant equal dignity to all persons involved.