Last week we had a variety of guest speakers who came to talk the Latino SST group. Gilberto Perez, Director of the Bienvenido Program, talked to the students about migration, acculturation, and mental health. Bienvenido was created by the Northeastern Center, a community mental health center in Northern Indiana, as a response to the growing number of immigrants. The Bienvenido Program addresses the migration and transition experiences of recently arrived migrant families and helps integrate them into their new communities. Gilberto also brought three Bienvenido participants to share their personal stories about their migration journey and adaptation here in the U.S.
Rodolfo “Rudy” Monterrosa, son of immigrant parents and alumnus of Notre Dame Law School, presented on the legal aspect of immigration. Students learned about how the immigration system has changed over the years and about how the immigration system works today. Students became aware of how challenging and lengthy it can be for someone to legalize their status…it can take up to more than 20 years depending on who is sponsoring the person…and as we know, many people do not even have a way to legalize their status. In addition, Rudy shared many real life stories from his personal experience of working as an attorney in St. Joseph and Elkhart counties about people and their struggles in our local communities due to their immigraiton status…such as not being able to obtain a driver’s license.
Saulo Padilla, Director for the office on Immigration Education for theMennonite Central Committee (MCC) U.S. spoke to the students about some of the U.S. international policies such as NAFTA, that have affected the economic conditions in Latin American countries, which have caused many migrants to leave their home countries. He also spoke about immigration from a theological point of view…about what God or the Bible tells about immigration. Saulo who is originally from Guatemala, also shared his personal story about having to leave his home country to Canada as a result of the political turmoil/civil war in Guatemala.