With a title that sounded "dangerous" and a dangerously political topic, Dr. Cameron Lippard, assistant professor of sociology at Appalachian State University, got the ball rolling Monday with a presentation of his recent research, titled "Living in the Shadows: Latinas and their Citizen Children."
In an effort to bring campus attention to a current political topic, the Center for the Study of Social Justice hosted the colloquium discussing Latino immigration and the effects of racial discrimination on the lives of both legal and illegal Latina immigrant mothers in the Southeast.
Lippard spent the years 2009 to 2011 interviewing Latino immigrants in five different counties of western North Carolina. He observed and studied their lives, particularly the lives that Latina women led in order to provide a stable home for their children.
Based on his research, Lippard stated that many of the immigrant women with children – both citizen children and undocumented children – would stay behind in the U.S. when their husbands were forced to return to the family’s country of origin. The children of these women have been termed “anchor babies.”
Lippard shared quotes from several interviews with Latina women which suggested that it is often the female immigrants who are exposed to racial discrimination due to the roles of the woman within the family unit.“Latina women face discrimination because they are the public representatives of the family,” Lippard said. “When a kid has to go get a shot at the doctor, it’s always the mom that takes them.”
Much of the lecture consisted of explanations about how much the Latino immigrant population has grown in the Southeast and the effect that moving into a predominately white society has had on the Hispanic migrants.“Latino families become isolated and withdraw from society due to misconceptions, deportation fears and mistreatment,” Lippard said.
Lippard ended his lecture by sharing some statistics about the immigrants who participated in his studies. Since conducting his research, 22 families from the communities he worked in have been broken up by deportation of one or both parents.
Lippard’s presentation, which was heard by an audience of about 20 faculty and graduate students from the sociology department, preceded a Monday night lecture on immigration reform and the outcomes of those reforms.“I think when we look at policy we only look at the intended consequences and don’t think about the unintended consequences,” Dr. Stephanie Bohon, co-director of the Center for the Study of Social Justice at UT, said. “When we do things like crack down on the borders, what happens often is it makes unauthorized immigration go up rather than go down.”
Immigration has been a widely discussed issue for years, and Bohon, along with other organizers of Monday's events, wanted to bring that discussion to UT.
“Immigration reform has been a big topic in the news lately,” Bohon said. “It looks like now is the time that something might happen, so we wanted to educate as many students and people in the community about immigration reform.”Although students were sparse during the presentation, Bohon expressed her hopes that similar discussions would benefit young adults.
“Most of you are going to graduate and go out into the workforce and you’re going to deal with immigrants,” she said. “You’re going to interact with immigrants as employees, as employers, as neighbors and as people in the community.“This is a country of immigrants. More than ten percent of our population is foreign born, and an educated person shouldn’t be ignoring a huge portion of the population. You should be aware of the issues surrounding them.”