Knowledge is power, so the saying goes. That's why institutions of higher learning often seek out different perspectives with regard to their fields of study.
Considering the different facets of any issue is key to solving problems, whether the issue is finding a cure to an illness, building a robot to accomplish a mission, or combating an invasive species. We learn more by collaborating with others.
This collaboration is precisely the reason America's higher education institutions are concerned about President Trump's recent executive order on immigration (which has thankfully been suspended by a federal court). We need smart people. It's not that we don't have enough brainiacs in the United States --- of course, we do. But one of the cornerstones of our modern higher education system --- and of our democracy and our place as the greatest nation on the planet --- is its diversity. We welcome the exchange of ideas with people around the globe, knowing that these exchanges and the universal understanding that they foster make the United States stronger, not weaker.
The American Council on Education weighed in on the Trump order with a letter to John Kelly, secretary of Homeland Security, highlighting the important role that international exchange plays in strengthening American higher education. "America is the greatest magnet for talented people from around the world and it must remain so," the letter states. It goes on to say that the 600 institutions that signed the letter want to partner with Homeland Security to advance policies that protect our nation while still welcoming ?those who seek to study, conduct research and scholarship, and contribute their knowledge and talents to our country.
Those talents, believe it or not, include picking crops.
In 2011, Georgia and several other states enacted an immigration law designed to prevent illegal immigrants from crossing the Mexican border into their states. The result? Crops rotted in the fields. Turns out that American workers (aka "white" people) of course do not want such back-breaking jobs. A 2012 Forbes.com article by Benjamin Powell pointed out that, "Although many Americans believe immigrants 'steal' our jobs and push down our wages, economists find little evidence of that."
I'm not advocating that we let illegal immigrants pour into our borders. But as a democratic nation, our economy is complicated. Most people, legal and illegal immigrants included, contribute to it in one way or another. Picking crops, collecting garbage, working at fast food restaurants --- all of those seemingly menial jobs --- serve a purpose in our nation's huge economic wheel. Knowing that, and knowing how immigration and other policies affect the cogs in that wheel, is power.
Which is why, if you are an educator, you can combat the ignorance that supports Trump's policies by doing your job. Educate your students. Be that teacher that inspires at least one, if not more, of your pupils to question, to seek out valid sources of information, and to, above all, understand that inclusiveness, and not exclusiveness, is the order of the day in our island, our nation, and our world. If you awaken even a few of your students, you can break the chain of ignorance and strengthen our democratic wheel. People of limited scope obviously saw Trump?s immigration ban as a good thing. As an educator, you can change that. So go into the classroom tomorrow and do your job.
Jayne Flores is a long-time journalist. She currently worksat Guam Community College. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org