In society today, it is difficult to have an open, honest discussion about issues facing the nation. Polarizing rhetoric often prevents productive discussion.
Despite the stigma surrounding the issues, Indiana State aimed to combat this polarization by hosting a panel that addressed the economic and ethical implications of immigration, an issue that has dramatically divided the American population.
The panel on Oct. 22 featured four panelists, each with their own area of expertise that allowed them to speak with authority on the issue.
Panelists were Dr. Robert Guell and Dr. Donald Richards, both professors of economics, and Dr. Patricia McIntyre, a retired professor of theology at St. Mary of the Woods College.
The panel broke down the issue of immigration from an economic perspective, as well as an ethical perspective.
MacIntyre commented “The ethical implications can be weighed in a balance with economic interests. It is fair for receiving nations to regulate in-migration so that local economies are not broken by the volume of entrants” but, she qualifies, “That said, ethical implications absolutely should outweigh political interests.”
MacIntyre reminded the audience that politicians make decisions to please their constituents.
“They should be looking at the common good, not just the self-interested goods of their donors and supporters” she added.
MacIntyre’s background in theology largely influences her views on who should be allowed into the country. She asserts that most religions, including her own, offer a command to act with compassion, offer hospitality and share resources with those who need them most.
ISU junior Alex Highland responded to MacIntyre’s arguments with some hesitation.
“It’s easy to say ‘let’s be welcoming’ but there are so many others factors that have to be considered.” Highland clarified that he was primarily talking about money and safety.
The panel as a whole, however, made clear that the money generated by immigrant communities far exceeds the costs of their entry into the country.
The panelists suggested that perhaps it really isn’t all about the money.
MacIntyre reminds us “There are no villains here - those coming in truly believe that doing so is their only chance and economic social institutions must be a bit tight-fisted because they are using tax money and have significant legal obligations to satisfy in using it.”
MacIntyre also suggests that a bit of self-reflection is necessary.
“We all must be internally honest to see why we react to immigrants as we do and where that reaction leads us.”
The panel was designed to get students talking, and freshman Aubree Nasser says “it most certainly will.”
Nasser admits that it is increasingly difficult to talk about issues such as immigration due to a lack of civility. She adds, “people just like to win. It’s not about the common good, it’s about getting a political win.”
MacIntyre believes that different customs must work to find common ground in order to diffuse cultural tensions.
“Political greed and public selfishness do not try to find common ground. They just want to win and that does not build a civil society that can accommodate new people whose views and traditions may be different.”
MacIntyre further suggests that people must be more willing to shoulder the responsibility of liberty and find out what people different from themselves believe and why, then to see where common ground exists.
“That is the model on which the nation exists. If we seek common ground, we can find benefits there to be shared… we [can] meet one another as relative equals and talk through our problems respectfully and equitably.”