The CSU Police Department, along with members of the community, gathered Wednesday in the Lory Student Center to discuss issues of cultural diversity and immigration.
The presentation is part of an initiative harbored by both CSU and CSUPD to increase diversity and cultural understanding in campus law enforcement. The initiative requires that sergeants and corporals conduct research into a culture or issue of diversity that is of interest to them in addition to the day-to-day law enforcement duties. The officers then present that research to the academic community.
Cpl. Yvonne Paez presented “Mexico – history, culture and migration.”
Paez focused primarily on the history and cultural differences between the United States and Mexico. But she also stressed the importance of cultural understanding during political unrest with respect to illegal immigration.
“Those are issues for the government to decide how to regulate, not for people on the street,” Paez said. “I would only hope that the people of my country would treat the Mexican people with hospitality.”
Associate history professor Jared Orsi and University of Northern Colorado associate economics professor Rutilio Martinez lectured on the history and economic impact of both legal and illegal immigration.
Immigration has been an issue in U.S. culture throughout the country’s history, Orsi said, but has only recently been enlivened by today’s political climate.
“By the last year, year and a half, people came to the conclusion that the immigration system was broken,” Orsi said.
Orsi addressed three possible solutions to illegal immigration’s stress on the U.S. – solutions he says people are beginning to recognize: an expansion of legal immigration, more law enforcement beyond the borders and retroactive legalization of immigrants who came to the country without documents.
“Bringing (undocumented immigrants) into the economy is probably going to be necessary,” he said. “We need to welcome, benefit from and benefit to legal immigration.”
Martinez supported Orsi’s argument, saying, “The argument is not economic. It’s racial, linguistic and cultural.”
“Why do they come? Because we hire them,” he said.
And that’s the message the speakers reminded law enforcement who attended – the need to enforce the law with employers, not just at the border.
Sgt. Chris Wolf was one of many law enforcement personnel who attended the presentation.
“I think this is always good, especially in the job we do, to learn as much as we can about these cultures so we can effectively deal with them,” Wolf said. “I’ve done a lot of research on my own because it interests me.”
Paez seemed elated to have completed her work, but the real joy, she says, was the understanding she obtained through teaching.
“The best way to get people to embrace diversity and understanding is not to just go see a presentation,” Paez said. “You can’t teach something you don’t understand; teaching brings a better understanding.”
Understanding, Paez says, is at the core of her police department.
“I think this is huge because it shows that we don’t just give lip service to diversity, it shows that we are trying to develop it in our ranks and bring that to the university,” she said.
City editor J. David McSwane can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.