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PhD Candidate Liliana E. Castrellon talks details pertaining to immigration. (Kelly Watkins / The Signpost)

Students and Weber State University staff learned about current immigration policies and discussed their viewpoints at the first Taboo Talks event of the semester on Sept. 12

The event was hosted by the diversity and inclusive program. Eduardo Franco, Taboo Talks chair coordinator, spoke about the timeliness of the subject.

“We see a lot in the news, we see these two extremes. Both of these extremes can actually talk and be able to agree to disagree,” said Franco.

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Participents were able to weigh in on conversations in a safe space. (Kelly Watkins / The Signpost)

Franco also mentioned that Taboo Talks is not meant to change anyone’s individual opinions, but create a safe environment to share different viewpoints.

The discussion started with a presentation by Liliana Castrellon, a doctoral candidate working with the department of educational leadership and policy at the University of Utah.

“I want to ground my discussion in the fact that I believe immigration is not a topic to be up for debate,” Castrellon said. “It’s not a topic that should be considered taboo.”

Castrellon spoke about what she considers taboo as “the denial that immigrants bring millions of dollars to the American economy.” She gave examples on how immigrants contribute to the U.S. tax base.

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Students were offered the opportunity to discuss topics of diversity. (Kelly Watkins / The Signpost)

Castrellon also spoke about racist nativism and gave examples on how the current administration is exercising this act through arrests and deportation of non-criminal immigrants and family separation.

College access coordinator for StepUp, Lais Martinez, facilitated a discussion amongst students and WSU staff after Castrellon’s presentation. Martinez asked questions on topics ranging from refugees, immigration policies impact on education, ethics and morality surrounding immigration and DACA.

Weber State senior Kylie Wilson came to the event to see where fellow students stood on these issues. Through the discussion, Wilson learned that DACA was not a pathway to citizenship, rather protection from deportation and a work permit for those who qualify.

“So the government’s putting all this money into work permits and not citizenship?” Wilson asked. “That’s crazy. I think that’s a misuse of resources.” Wilson added that it would be cheaper and more beneficial in the long run to help immigrants receive citizenship.

Under the Trump administration, the United States Department of Homeland Security rescinded the expansion of DACA in 2017. DACA is currently in place, but fear surrounds the status of DACA and its future, Martinez said.

Diversity and inclusive programs coordinator, Andrea S. Hernández, said that DACA is not enough and it acts like a Band-Aid.

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Students were offered the opportunity to discuss topics of diversity. (Kelly Watkins / The Signpost)


“We need a good, solid immigration policy to allow immigrants to be able to have citizenship faster than having to wait 10 years for the system to work,” Hernández said.


Juancarlos Santisteban, a licensed family and marriage therapist at the WSU counseling center, brought the conversation back from policies to a human perspective.


“Imagine yourself being in their shoes, the uncertainty those students have to walk with every single day. We have privileges that they don’t have. Every day they have to be consciously aware tomorrow that right can be taken away from them,” said Santisteban regarding DACA recipients.

Diversity and inclusive programs will hold more Taboo Talks during this semester. For more information, go to https://www.weber.edu/diversity/taboo.html.

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