As an intern with Long Island Wins this semester, I was assigned to interview my peers at Herricks High School to find out their thoughts on immigrants and immigration reform. Over the past several weeks, I found ten different people from different backgrounds and sat down with them to discuss this important and timely topic. The responses were both genuine and impressive, especially for a group of high school seniors.
Herricks has always been known as a diverse school district with people from all walks of life. It has gone through several cultural shifts over the years, going from a majority Caucasian population to today’s substantial Asian population.
What makes it really unique is that while the student body may come from different backgrounds, they have the ability to empathize with and befriend one another. Herricks proudly celebrates its many different cultures, holding numerous cultural events, such as Chinese New Year festivals and Indian Diwali celebrations.
Herricks has had a history of welcoming immigrants and it shows in what the students had to say.
I first wanted to gauge just how much my classmates knew about immigrants. Do they help stimulate the economy? Do immigrants commit crimes? Have they impacted the Herricks community, and how?
I was very much impressed that my peers knew as much as they did about this important topic and it shows that they follow current events. Some of those I spoke to were immigrants themselves, while others were children of immigrants – but I also made sure to include those whose families have been here for generations. Everyone clearly understood that immigrants as a whole are law-abiding people and that they do, in fact, contribute to the economy. One classmate even ardently defended immigrants by asserting that the American economy would be worse off if there were no immigrants in the workforce.
What made me most proud of my classmates was that they were able to recognize just how much the immigrant population has done for our community. Our town is filled with shop owners, doctors, teachers – many of whom are immigrants. Without their contributions, Herricks would not be the open and welcoming place that it is today.
I am grateful that I took on the task of interviewing my classmates for this project. Not only are they the model of how the American public should look at immigrants and immigration reform, they are the people that will make a difference going forward.