“They are not criminals. They are workers,” Carlos Fuentes told a packed audience at the Doré Theatre on Wednesday night. He was talking about Mexican immigrants and the crowd responded with resounding applause.
Immigration and border issues between Mexico and the United States were just part of Fuentes’ speech on “Globalization: A New Deal for a New Age.” He also spoke about shifting world powers, the place of the U.S. and all of the Americas in global relations, and even made a case for decriminalizing drugs as an innovative way to combat cartels and corruption.
But it was his support for new U.S. laws that would welcome and legalize foreign workers that garnered the biggest support from an overflowing audience at the 6th annual Fall Lecture hosted by the Kegley Institute of Ethics. A live video feed was provided in the adjacent Albertson Room and chairs were brought in at the last minute to surround the stage to accommodate attendees. KIE Director, Christopher Meyers, said it was one of the most-attended lectures in the organization’s 25-year history.
Fuentes is a best-selling author (“The Old Gringo,” “The Death of Artemio Cruz”) and observer of Latin American and international policy. A former Mexican diplomat, he has participated in global relations as both a statesman and a critic (his nonfiction work includes essays and articles for major publications). Fuentes is also a professor-at-large for the Hispanic Studies Department at Brown University.
Students from as far away as Fresno State came to hear what Fuentes had to say about the “great worldwide revolution” of globalization. Not only would it be “immensely valuable” to the United States’ economy to legalize migrant workers, Mexico must also come up with solutions to provide jobs for its workforce – thus giving a reason for Mexican workers to stay at home and provide for their own country.
Most importantly, Fuentes said, migrants should not be treated as criminals.
“To put the criminal tag on migration merely gives criminals a chance to use migration to their own ends,” Fuentes said. “Migration is then not a police problem, it is a social and economic problem requiring social and economic and human solutions.”
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– Jennifer Baldwin, CSUB Public Affairs Coordinator