By Nathan Mair

Immigration is hot topic in our country today, and on April 26, a panel of credible individuals addressed the issue of immigration and deportation in Manchester Community College’s Great Path Academy community common room.

The four speakers who participated in the immigration reform panel were: Karen Lococo whose husband is facing deportation, Jose Diaz from Capital Community College, Attorney Erin O’Neil-Baker, and MCC American Government Professor Angelo Messore.

Live Wire editor-in-chief, Nathan Cheatham, mediated and played a major role in organizing the event. Cheatham wrote an article in the February issue of the Live Wire in which he covered Karen Lococo’s family plight that saw her husband Tony facing deportation.
“After I wrote the article I wanted to do more to help Karen,” said Cheatham, “so [Live Wire faculty advisor] Professor [Stephania] Davis suggested that I do some sort of panel discussion, and from there I decided to put it together.”

MCC students and faculty attended the event which featured testimonies from Lococo and Diaz, as well as deep analyses on immigration laws in America by O’Neil-Baker and Messore.

Diaz described his experience as a Mexican immigrant whose family also faced deportation, to those in attendance.

“When my father told my brother and I that we were going back to Mexico, all my dreams just crashed and I didn’t know what to do,” said Diaz. “We came here for a dream and a better opportunity, so why go back just like that? So I decided to stay. I knew it was going to be tough but why just give up?” added Diaz.

Lococo also gave an emotional testimony in which she expressed her frustration on American immigration policies and how they are causing her family grief.

“When I found out that my husband was being detained by [Immigration and Customs Enforcement], I was in shock. I immediately tried contacting people who had some insight on what was next. For the next four months, I was really unstable; I was crying a lot and had a hard time keeping it together,” said Lococo. “I don’t know what the outcome is going to be, I don’t even know where I’ll be living in a year-it’s very stressful,” she added.

After the panelists gave their testimonies, Cheatham gave the audience a chance to ask their questions to the panelists.

“The panel turned out great, it was very informative and I definitely plan on doing it next year,” said Cheatham who will be working with Connecticut based immigration groups during the upcoming summer, in preparation.

Photo by: Paul Ofria

Photo by: Paul Ofria