Jon Hubbard: UA panel on immigration promoting "illegal" activity | Arkansas Blog

Jon Hubbard: UA panel on immigration promoting "illegal" activity

by

33 comments

Jon Hubbard Arkansas image
  • Hubbard
The University of Arkansas in Fayetteville is hosting a panel discussion later this month with five, young undocumented immigrants. The announcement of the panel, "Undocumented: Living in the Shadows,” inspired Republican Rep. Jon Hubbard (Jonesboro), the wingnuttiest of the state GOP delegation and a strident foe of all things immigrant, to fire off an angry email to UA Chancellor G. David Gearhart. Hubbard's been known to send an anti-Latino email to a state official a time or two.
In your announcement of this event... you praise these undocumented/illegal persons for their willingness to take part in this event, and you refered [sic] to their actions simply as the "national immigration debate", instead of what it actually is, an "illegal" and criminal activity!

Politely, Gearhart schools Hubbard in his response:

As I hope you understand, one of a university’s many purposes is to serve as a gathering place where issues and ideas are shared and discussed. I believe it’s important to offer our students and the public an opportunity to hear firsthand from individuals who have such a unique perspective: living most of their lives in and as Americans, if not citizens, but without having access to the same legal, educational, and economic opportunities as their classmates and neighbors.

I hope this explanation helps you understand why the university is holding this educational forum. No one should be afraid or opposed to hear all sides of an issue that is so much in the public domain. I believe the very tenets of our nation, in fact, demand such. Our great country is based on the hallowed principles of free speech and assembly as cherished virtues. I would hope you, as an elected official, would agree with this basic premise and support our guaranteed right and privilege to do so.

See the full exchange on the jump.

Gearhart's response:

Dear Representative Hubbard:
I received your email and offer the following response to your questions and concerns.
We are an educational institution that has a responsibility to educate and inform the public of social and political issues that affect our nation and state. We see this as an important public service as a land grant institution. As you know, there are a multitude of legal, social, educational, cultural, economic, policy, and political issues related to the presence of more than 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States. Arkansas has one of the larger populations in our midst.
Part of the national debate focuses on those issues as they pertain to young people—specifically, those undocumented immigrants in the U.S. who were brought to the U.S. as children. Those individuals have grown up in the U.S., attending American schools—legally, as the Courts have determined, having little understanding or awareness that their legal status was different from others in their classes with whom they play, learn, and say the Pledge of Allegiance. For the most part, they do not learn until they are older of their status and their limited abilities to drive a car, get a job, travel safely and securely, or pursue higher education. Returning to their country of birth is not necessarily a realistic option; many of these immigrant children have no recollection or family connections in the country in which they were born, nor do they necessarily speak or write their home country’s native language. English is the only language in which they are fluent. In fact, many of these young people speak English with an Arkansas accent. All of this creates social and economic circumstances that negatively affect them, their families, and society as a whole.
Having traveled our state extensively, I am well aware that there is widespread interest in the topic of young, undocumented immigrants. I hear it from students, business and community leaders, educators, and policy makers. Whether they are immigrants or fifth-generation Arkansans, they make it clear to me that greater public discourse is needed to understand better the aspects and complexity of this issue. For that reason, the University of Arkansas chose to convene a panel that would allow the public to hear firsthand how young, undocumented immigrants view themselves and their place in the country in which they’ve lived for most of their lives. So much of the public debate has centered around the opinions and sound bites of TV pundits; we thought we would hold an event that would, through exchanges of perspectives and a Q&A session, provide an educational and enlightening forum on this major public policy topic.
As I hope you understand, one of a university’s many purposes is to serve as a gathering place where issues and ideas are shared and discussed. I believe it’s important to offer our students and the public an opportunity to hear firsthand from individuals who have such a unique perspective: living most of their lives in and as Americans, if not citizens, but without having access to the same legal, educational, and economic opportunities as their classmates and neighbors.
I hope this explanation helps you understand why the university is holding this educational forum. No one should be afraid or opposed to hear all sides of an issue that is so much in the public domain. I believe the very tenets of our nation, in fact, demand such. Our great country is based on the hallowed principles of free speech and assembly as cherished virtues. I would hope you, as an elected official, would agree with this basic premise and support our guaranteed right and privilege to do so.
Finally, it is my fervent hope that you would attend the assembly and be better educated to the serious issues and pitfalls facing the youth of our state. We would be delighted to have you with us.
Sincerely,
G. David Gearhart
Chancellor
University of Arkansas

Hubbard's email:

Dr. Gearhart:

I would be very interested in knowing why the University of Arkansas, a state institution which receives a large portion of it's operating budget from taxpayer funds, would knowingly allow itself to participate in a program for those who are in this country and this state, "illegally"? If you understand and agree that being "undocumented" is the same as being "illegal", then how can you, as Chancellor of the University of Arkansas Fayetteville, explain and justify taking part in an activity in support of someone who is knowingly and openly breaking Federal Law? In your announcement of this event below, you praise these undocumented/illegal persons for their willingness to take part in this event, and you refered to their actions simply as the "national immigration debate", instead of what it actually is, an "illegal" and criminal activity!

Please consider this as my official request that you explain both your own, and that of the University of Arkansas, roles in this specific, and most likely, "illegal" activity. I look forward to your prompt reply.

Sincerely,
Jon Hubbard
State Representative
Jonesboro, AR

UA announcement:

“What’s it like to grow up in America but not be an American?” That’s the question five young, undocumented immigrants will address as part of a unique, nationally relevant panel discussion called “Undocumented: Living in the Shadows,” to be held in Fayetteville on Monday, April 23 from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. Given your leadership position in our state, I invite you to join me for this thought-provoking evening, which is being coordinated and sponsored by the University of Arkansas. The five panelists taking part in the discussion were brought by their parents to the U.S. at a young age. Some of them don’t have any connections or recollection of the country in which they were born. Two panelists are university students who grew up in Arkansas. The other three panelists grew up in Massachusetts, New York and Virginia, respectively. Their undocumented immigration status makes travel within the U.S. difficult and risky and their ability to work legally impossible. They are taking a significant risk by making themselves so publicly visible. However, they deeply believe in the importance of sharing their stories about fears, self-identity, and the national immigration debate. We appreciate their willingness to do so. The April 23 event will be held at the Town Center in Fayetteville. While the event is free and open to the public, seating will be limited. Please RSVP by April 19 if you are interested in attending and we will reserve seats for you. I truly hope you will join us for this special event. Best wishes, G. David Gearhart Chancellor

From the ArkTimes store

Comments (33)

Showing 1-25 of 33

Add a comment
 

Add a comment

Clicky