The United States has been called a ‘land of immigrants” and some say the debate about immigration reflects the very core of our identity as Americans.
The immigration reform bill, passed by the US Senate in June, appears stalled in Congress.
A film called, 9500 Liberty documented the reaction in Prince William County, Virginia, when an Arizona-style immigration ordinance was implemented there several years ago.
The film debuted on YouTube in 2010, and tells the story of racial tension after a new country ordinance required police to question people who appeared to be undocumented immigrants. The ordinance was later repealed. Today not many people are aware of Virginia’s experience with the struggle over immigration reform, which predates the well known Arizona state Law still in effect, known as SB1070.
“Virginia has been part of this immigration debate for some time now," says Xavier Medina, an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Virginia Tech. “I asked my students\have you ever heard about this and a lot of my students here at Tech they are from northern Virginia and none of them had heard about this, not 9500 Liberty, not even the law in Prince William County so I’m trying to bring attention to issues like these and situate Virginia in this larger immigration policy debate.
Medina has organized a forum on immigration reform set for this Thursday at Virginia Tech. As the federal bill awaits action by the US House, he calls it an opportunity for people to learn more about the issues at stake. Among the topics to be discussed, is efforts in the Virginia State Legislature to pass a provision of the dream act, parts of which have already been adopted by 16 states. It would grant ‘dreamers’ as they’re known, access to in state tuition rates at Virginia colleges and universities.
The two-session forum on “The Fundamentals of Immigration Reform for Virginia and the Nation" will be held Thursday at Squires Student Center at Virginia Tech. Tech’s Diversity program, and the departments of Political Science and Multicultural Programs & Services sponsor it.
There'll be a free screening of the Documentary, "9500 Liberty" ... the story of Prince William County's experience with immigration reform, Wednesday October 2nd at 7pm in the Fralin Life Sciences Auditorium at Virginia Tech.