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Pomona College Hosts Debate on U.S. Immigration Policy by National Commentators

In the belief that “one cannot possess a firm belief in anything unless it is challenged,” the Pomona Student Union (PSU) at Pomona College will present a debate on “U.S. Immigration Policy: After the Election” at noon on Friday, Dec. 3. The event is open to the public and will be held in Pomona College’s Frank Dining Hall Blue Room (260 East Bonita Avenue, Claremont). There is no charge to attend.

The speakers are Bill Hing, author of the book “Defining America Through Immigration Policy” (2004), who believes that, “public policies that hinder immigrants’ ability to become self-reliant, responsible community members hinder the successes of all Americans,” and Ira Mehlman, spokesperson for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Mehlman opposes measures such as granting driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, a policy he feels is “clearly intended to make sure that the illegal aliens who are here can remain here and get amnesty.”

Hing, a professor of Asian American Studies and member of the law school faculty at the University of California, Davis, has written several books on the subjects of cultural pluralism and assimilation, the effects of immigration and the effects of immigration policy on the Asian American community. In addition to “Defining America,” they include “Making and Remaking Asian America Through Immigration Policy, 1850-1990” (1994) and “To Be an American: Cultural Pluralism and the Rhetoric of Assimilation” (1997). He has also written numerous articles on immigration in prominent publications such as The Washington Post, and The Chicago Tribune.

Mehlman, who as the media director and spokesperson for FAIR, promotes the organization’s policy goals of improving border security and putting an end to illegal immigration. He is the co-founder of the American Jewish Immigration Policy Institute and has worked as both a special assistant to former Colorado Governor Richard Lamm, and as a press secretary for the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. He has appeared as an expert commentator on both television and radio, and has written columns appearing in The New York Times, The Washington Post and other national publications.

The Pomona Student Union, founded in the fall of 2002, is a non-partisan Pomona College student organization dedicated to “raising the level of honest and open dialogue on campus. By helping students become more knowledgeable and better informed on the political and social issues that confront our society, we create informed citizens to better serve us all.” In addition to bringing in speakers, the Pomona Student Union sponsors student and faculty debates and panels, as well as informal social events structured around current events.”

Erica Lai, a PSU board member for domestic policy, notes that “California is certainly one of the key states that have a stake in shaping new immigration policies,” adding that, “several states have shown their dissatisfaction with existing immigration policies, from California's Proposition 187 to Arizona's Proposition 200 this past fall… It will be thrilling to have two high profile speakers debate one another about the hotly contested topics of undocumented immigration and Bush's upcoming policy.”

Pomona College, one of the nation’s premier liberal arts institutions, offers a comprehensive program in the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Its hallmarks include small classes, close relationships between students and faculty, and a range of opportunities for student research.