Hannah Damico / The Daily Gamecock

Nationally acclaimed immigration rights leader speaks at 2019 Newman Lecture

USC’s I. DeQuincy Newman Institute for Peace and Social Justice hosted the "What Google Won’t Tell You About Immigration" lecture on Wednesday night. Gaby Pacheco, a nationally recognized immigrant rights leader, was the event's lecturer. 

The institute hosts sessions throughout the year to cover a wide range of topics, and this year Ronald Pitner, the institute's director, said the institute has focused on immigrant and refugee-related issues, which qualified Pacheco as the event's speaker. 

Gaby Pacheco, an immigrant herself, has led the Trail of Dreams, a four-month walk to create awareness of immigrant families facing deportation. Her efforts at United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth network in the United States, helped implement the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012. 

Pacheco said in an email before the event that she urges people to understand just how complex of an issue immigration is and that "it's politically expedient to keep this issue unsolved."

Pacheco shared her story and the stories of many others she has met throughout her life as a voice for undocumented immigrants. She spoke about her childhood and leaving her home in Ecuador with her family. Additionally, Pacheco shared her four-month journey from Florida to Washington, D.C., and also covered a contextual history of immigration as ways to push dialogue further to find solutions.

“I think the most important thing is to challenge the status quo,” Pacheco said. 

Rebecca Janzen, a Spanish instructor at USC, said that the issues surrounding immigration are particularly relevant.

“It’s always refreshing to hear about the impact on undocumented people in a particular region, so in our state of South Carolina," Janzen said. 

Amirah Cotton, a student in the Master of Social Work (MSW) Program, said that she came out inspired by Pacheco’s bravery in telling her story. She applied Pacheco’s persistence to her own education.

“Once you hear some other peoples’ story, it kind of inspires you or gives you that light or fire to continue," Cotton said. 

Pacheco stressed toward the end of her lecture that no single legislation can resolve the issue that she has been working to address. 

“It’s just so heavy, right, what we carry as a country that I think immigration is just another issue that adds on to that, and we’re going to have to work at it," Pacheco said. 


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