Examining Latinx realities in the U.S.

Elon faculty shared their expertise about Latinx issues during “Perspectivas,” part of the university’s commemoration of Hispanic Heritage Month

Three faculty members presented their expertise and research about immigration and different facets of Latinx life in America during “Perspectivas,” a Hispanic Heritage Month event Sept. 4 in Lakeside Meeting Rooms.

Sylvia Muñoz, director of El Centro de Español and assistant director for the Center for Race, Ethnicity and Diversity Education, said the goal of the event was to inform the Elon community about different Latinx issues in the U.S., provide information on current Latinx topics from an academic standpoint and promote healthy debate among people who would otherwise not have a chance to interact with one another.

Topics discussed during the event included the history of U.S. foreign policy regarding South and Central America, the economics of immigration and the daily hardships of immigrants in the U.S. and North Carolina in particular.

First to present was Vanessa Bravo, an associate professor in Elon’s School of Communications who interviewed 40 undocumented immigrants in North Carolina and New York as part of her research. Her interviews ranged from 15 minutes to four hours and centered on the experiences of undocumented women, most of whom lived in the Alamance County area. Common threads among interviewees included instances of discrimination by community members and living in constant fear around police, which drove them to live in the shadows.

Associate Professor of History Michael Matthews took the stage next to provide a historical context for today’s immigration issues. Matthews discussed the history of U.S. foreign policy, specifically in Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador, and how past and present U.S. political interventions in the region have led to current immigration trends. He also explained how economic strains caused by U.S. farming corporations in South and Central American countries, accompanied with climate change, have forced many Latinx families to uproot their lives and migrate to the U.S. looking for a better future.

Last to present was Brandon Sheridan, assistant professor of economics in the Love School of Business, who discussed the impact of immigrants on the U.S. economy. Using peer-reviewed research and data, he set out to dispel myths about the impact of immigrants on the U.S. economy and educate those in attendance about the benefits they bring, particularly when it comes to the workforce. Sheridan also discussed how political agendas often influence how data is interpreted or alter how a set of data is presented to the public.

Sponsored by El Centro, Hispanic Heritage Month commemorates Hispanic/Latinx students, faculty, staff and alumni while also educating all members of the Elon community interested in learning about Hispanic culture. For a full list of events, visit El Centro’s website.