Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, Courtney Sale Ross University Professor of globalization and education, was a panelist on a two-hour primetime special on immigration, “Beyond Borderlines,” on MSNBC with Lawrence O’Donnell.
In a taped segment filmed on Ellis Island in New York, Suárez-Orozco discusses with O’Donnell the history of immigration in the United States and the challenges that arriving immigrant groups face, such as prejudice and discrimination. Suárez-Orozco disputed the claim that rising immigration levels lead to a rise in crime; in fact, he says, studies find that immigrant groups are less likely to commit crime than native groups.
Immigration is an asset for the country, says Suárez-Orozco, since “citizens who can function in more than one language, who have insight into cultural practices and business practices from other parts of the world, will be at an advantage moving forward. The question is, do we as a country have the energy it takes to take on that challenge, or have we given up on the shining light that Lady Liberty symbolizes to the entire world?”
During a live panel discussion with O’Donnell and other guests, including actress and Voto Latino co-founder Rosario Dawson, Suárez-Orozco said, “We are a country where immigration is our history and also our destiny. Even if we were to have no more immigration, the fastest growing population comes from the ‘echo’ that immigration generates: the children and grandchildren of immigrants.”
He called for “a rational, national conversation [around immigration] and a rediscovery of the fundamental essence of what our country has stood for in the eyes of the world for the last 200 years … Immigration in our country has not failed.”