With current United States political dialogue focusing on undocumented immigration, the Thurgood Marshall Pre-law Society (TMPS) held a general body (GB) meeting to discuss recent presidential election rhetoric and legal affairs surrounding undocumented immigrants.
Aminah Ali, the president of TMPS and a senior majoring in politics, philosophy and law, said they wanted to host the meeting because of Donald Trump’s and other candidates’ inflammatory language and proposed policies regarding undocumented immigration.
“I just want people to be aware that this rhetoric and these speeches are extremely violent,” Ali said. “We felt, as the only pre-law group on campus, that we had to talk about how it affects policies.”
Ali said that pervasive myths, often trumpeted by presidential candidates, include the stereotypes that undocumented immigrants steal American jobs, strain the economy by not paying taxes and have no legal rights.
“People don’t think that they have rights because they came undocumented — because they are marginalized people,” Ali said. “This GB was to highlight the fact that yes, they do have rights and what we can do as a group to give these people a voice.”
During the hour-long meeting, TMPS discussed rights for undocumented immigrants have such as the fourth and 14th amendments, which protect against search and seizure and citizenship rights, respectively. They also discussed hospital policies mandating treatment for anyone in a life-threatening situation, no matter their documentation status.
Legal repercussions of implemented and proposed immigration policies were also discussed, such as an America-Mexico border wall and the Arizona Senate Bill 1070, which authorizes police to demand proof of citizenship based purely on suspicion.
Prince Grant, a junior majoring in English, said he appreciated the discussion describing differences between various pathways to citizenship.
“I liked how they showed laws of immigration and the distinction between naturalization and green cards,” Grant said. “I thought it brought a lot of facts to the table.”
Meeting attendees also deliberated on presidential candidates’ specific opinions on immigration. Organizers showed quotes from candidates and had the audience guess who said what. Many people were shocked at a quote belonging to Ted Cruz, where he called for a tripling of border security, surveillance and biometric border tracking.
According to Damali Lambertbessor, a junior majoring in English, many people guessed incorrectly, making the meeting a useful medium for candidate and election information.
“I feel like I was getting an update on the presidential debates,” Lambertbessor said. “We’re electing people pretty soon and we need to know exactly what they stand for.’”
Ali said that she would like to see students take a more active stance on undocumented immigration, and hopes they will educate themselves on immigration statistics and policies. She also said she would like students speaking with those they know who are connected to undocumented immigrants, or are immigrants themselves.
“Even if you yourself are a documented citizen this still affects you,” Ali said. “This is a human rights issue. If at least one person in here is like, ‘OK, I’m going to go Google what exactly immigration reform is,’ then we’ve done our job.”