Westfield State University’s 5th annual “Cross-Cultural Symposium” was held on Friday, and this year, the focus was immigration.
“There’s no area of the world now that we don’t encounter people from different places,” said Carol Bainey, an associate professor at Westfield State.
Carolyn Cooper was a speaker at the event. She told 22News, immigration has become a global political issue.
“But, it is also one about humanity,” explained Cooper. “How do we define who belongs and who doesn’t belong?”
According to the American Immigration Council, immigrants make up about 16 percent of Massachusetts’ population, and about 210,000 are undocumented.
Some cities in western Massachusetts have either passed or are currently trying to pass, Welcoming Community laws, that help these undocumented immigrants.
“To be documented is a label, and to be documented is a label,” said Bainey. “We share a common existence as human beings.”
Springfield is a Welcoming Community, and there is a proposal in Easthampton to do the same. The status acts as a protective shield to keep illegal immigrants from being deported by federal agents.
Opponents of Welcoming Communities, like Gov. Charlie Baker, say cities and towns should be allowed to cooperate with federal officials.