BY JOSEF LUFTMAN
Hispanics’ views on illegal immigration of Latinos has grown more positive since 2010, according to a recent Pew Research Center nationwide survey of 5,103 Hispanic adults.
This trend of greater acceptance has affected the ability of immigrant students to seek an education at some higher-education institutions, such as County College of Morris.
CCM’s recent decision to allow undocumented immigrants to enroll at the college has created more educational opportunities for this segment of the population.
Dr. Marcia Picallo, a Spanish professor at CCM, described the resulting increase in the number of Latino students at the college as a “wonderful thing.”
“We are providing a university education to these young people who have all the potential in the world, so I’m very happy about that,” she said. “We are headed in the right direction.”
While grateful for the growing acceptance of undocumented Latino immigrants, some CCM students feel that a negative perception remains among the general public.
Carlos Herrera, a communication major who emigrated legally from Honduras about 15 years ago, feels the media plays a significant role in the negative portrayal of this ethnic group.
“The media has a way of expressing the negative impact of Latino immigration,” he said. “But personally… I’ve had a positive [view of] immigration.”
Mayre Barrios, a criminal justice major and president of the United Latino Organization at CCM, agreed that undocumented Latino immigrants are having a positive effect on the United States.
“From what I have experienced, Latinos are the ones who do the unwanted jobs, most things that people don’t want to do,” Barrios said. “They are … the backbone of everything.”
Herrera said he believes these immigrants are willing to start at the bottom and risk deportation in order start a new life because of the “opportunities that come from being in America” and the idea of the “American dream.”
Chris Guerbi, a digital media major, is a first generation student of Argentine descent who also agrees that these undocumented immigrants are making a positive contribution.
“I mean, yes, they came here illegally,” he said, “but they’ve helped so much. They’ve helped a lot for this country.”
Picallo believes diversity benefits everyone by creating the opportunity for a better understanding of people from all walks of life.
“I think that the more diverse we become, the more opportunities we offer,” she said, “not just with Latinos, but with anybody.”