Tuesday night, in the Harold C. Smith presentation room in Judd Gymnasia, José Jorge Mendoza gave a presentation discussing the ethics of immigration enforcement. He spoke to a full crowd of students in philosophy, ethics, and religion classes, professors of the studies, and other members of the Springfield College community who were interested in learning more about the highly controversial and currently debated topic.
This event is the first of a two-part spring forum on religion and philosophy. “The purpose of the Religion and Philosophy Spring Forum is to illustrate the importance of taking religious and philosophical perspectives toward contemporary social justice issues,” said Professor Robert Gruber, who introduced the speaker for the night.
Mendoza is the Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He is also the author of the book, “The Moral and Political Philosophy of Immigration.”
Mendoza structured his presentation by contrasting both the positive and negative sides of the open border debate.
There are multiple perspectives on this point, beginning with the Libertarian Position. “They’re concerned about human liberty, the rights particular of the individual,” Mendoza explained. “A strong argument says an individual has the presumptive right to move.”
The second position to this argument is the Egalitarian Position. Mendoza stated, “You can also argue for open borders from an egalitarian perspective where you say ‘look, I think freedom is cool, but my primary concern is equality.’”
Mendoza gave many examples similar to these, explaining the view on the open border concern. He made fair points to show how the open border policy can be negative as well, with the aspects that it could be considered too individualistic, could cause inequality, and potentially even prevent social justice.
He continued on to talk specifically about the enforcement of immigration. “It turns out that no matter what side of the debate you’re on, one of the more important aspects happens to be enforcement,” Mendoza said. “Both proponents of it and opponents of immigration look at enforcement.”
Mendoza then went on to give an indirect argument that dealt with equal moral consideration for all people despite their race, gender, and ethnicity. He believes no citizen should be treated in an inferior manner, and when this happens it is often due to racial profiling. This can cause extreme trauma for families that truly are legal citizens.
He concluded his presentation by discussing the technology that is used in immigration control and how there could be a more effective way to use these technological advances to create open “smart” borders.
The Springfield College community was able to take away a unique insight from this distinguished professor and learned about a highly debated topic in today’s political climate. It is an important topic to discuss and Mendoza opened up that conversation in a positive and safe environment for students, professors, and community members to listen and gain knowledge. The second part of the spring forum will take place next Tuesday, Feb. 11, in the Harold C. Smith presentation room in Judd Gymnasia at 7 p.m.
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