The Politics of Immigration: Laws and Human Dignity
What are the “deal-breakers” that keep Congress from fixing our immigration system? And who decides how to enforce laws while still treating people humanely? Migration of large groups of people has become common throughout the world. Most people migrating are looking for a better life — a place to live peacefully, raise children and find work. And when the legal process for immigration and asylum moves too slowly, people looking to escape violence turn to human smugglers, entering our country illegally. This sets up a cycle of increasing criminality as people seek to escape violence. Is it possible to uphold laws while still honoring human dignity? And when does upholding the law become immoral?
Refugee: Refugees are generally people outside of their country who are unable or unwilling to return home because they fear serious harm. You may seek a referral for refugee status only from outside of the United States.
Asylum Seeker: Asylum status is a form of protection available to people who: 1) Meet the definition of refugee 2) Are already in the United States 3) Are seeking admission at a port of entry.These are the legal definitions provided by the U.S. government. You can explore more here and here. While you don’t need to be an expert on this topic, sometimes people want background information. Our partner, AllSides, has prepared a variety of articles reflecting multiple sides of this topic.
Let's Get Started!
Living Room Conversations offers a simple, sociable and structured way to practice communicating across differences while building understanding and relationships. Typically, 4-6 people meet in person or by video call for about 90 minutes to listen to and be heard by others on one of our nearly 100 topics. Rather than debating or convincing others, we take turns talking to share, learn, and be curious. No preparation is required, though background links with balanced views are available on some topic pages online. Anyone can host using these italicized instructions. Hosts also participate.
Why We're Here (~10 min)
Share your name, where you live, what drew you here, and if this is your first conversation.
How We'll Engage (~5 min)
These will set the tone of our conversation; participants may volunteer to take turns reading them aloud. (Click here for the full conversation agreements.)
- Be curious and listen to understand.
- Show respect and suspend judgment.
- Note any common ground as well as any differences.
- Be authentic and welcome that from others.
- Be purposeful and to the point.
- Own and guide the conversation.
What We’ll Talk About
Optional: a participant can keep track of time and gently let people know when their time has elapsed.
Getting to Know Each Other (~10 min)
Each participant can take 1-2 minutes to answer one of these questions:
- What are your hopes and concerns for your community and/or the country?
- What would your best friend say about who you are and what inspires you?
- What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?
The Politics of Immigration: Laws and Human Dignity (~40 min)
Take ~2 minutes each to answer a question below without interruption or crosstalk. After everyone has answered, the group may take a few minutes for clarifying or follow up questions/responses. Continue exploring additional questions as time allows..
Answer one or more of the following:
- Have you or your family (in recent history) ever moved to a different country? How did it go?
- When you hear about mass migration — what do you think or feel about it?
- Have you ever advocated for or against immigration? Why? What did you do?
- Should immigration laws be suspended, modified or enforced during times of massive refugees?
- Are the levels of immigration today too much, not enough or “just right”?
Reflecting on the Conversation (~15 min)
Take 2 minutes to answer one of the following questions:
- In one sentence, share what was most meaningful or valuable to you in the experience of this Living Room Conversation?
- What new understanding or common ground did you find within this topic?
- Has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group, including yourself?
- Name one important thing that was accomplished here.
- Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?