Starting a Conversation

Amnesty Club spurs discourse about immigration with Omaha South students

Wrayna Howell, Staff Writer

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As a group of 12 Millard North students rolled up to Omaha South High School, they found themselves in an unfamiliar community. Once they began talking to students in the Character in Action organization, they soon learned that each member had an inspiring story to tell.

Whether it is on the news or in the classroom, immigration has slipped its way into the spotlight. These discussions often become controversial because of the disagreement and hostility surrounding immigration. By beginning a discourse with students who had experience with immigration in America, Amnesty Club members were able to gain first-hand insight on the issue.

“We have a lot of kids in Amnesty that are apart of a family of immigrants, and to become more informed about an issue pressing our country and dear to our students we thought it would be good to hear other immigrants’ stories,” Betzold said.

Members of Amnesty Club spoke with other students from Omaha South in a service organization known as Character in Action. The group is led by counselor, Antonio Perez, who was also acquainted with Betzold in his years at Boys Town.

Students like sophomore Parwana Azimi, whose parents are immigrants, came to listen to stories of others similar to them. While their stories weren’t exactly the same, MN students were able to take away a lot from the discussion.

“The meeting was so eye-opening and heartbreaking. I felt so privileged to have parents that are documented immigrants. These undocumented immigrants and their children have the same wishes and dreams for their kids as the average American citizen does. They’re hard working, if not more than us, and understand the needs and duties of someone that resides in the United States. And even though my parents are legal citizens now, I still felt a connection to their stories,” Azimi said.

The speakers also discussed legal components of immigration, including DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents), which are laws that protect adults and children without full legal citizenship.

“The speaker talked about DACA or dreamers and how these students may have protection from the government in order to not get deported but have many disadvantages as well. They can’t apply for financial aid or loans which most students can. They don’t have access to things that we sometimes take for granted when chasing our dreams,” Azimi said.

Amnesty’s trip to Omaha South helped start the real-life conversation as an immigrant in America. Not only did children of immigrants get a chance to meet with others from similar backgrounds, but those who have not had a lot of experience with immigration in their own life had the chance to be introduced to a new way of life.

“When one of the DACA kids talked about her cousin, she mentioned how lucky her cousin was be born as a citizen. She was telling us about how her cousin didn’t want to go to college because she was done with high school. She started crying because her cousin didn’t realize the privilege and opportunities that she was born with,” senior Sahr Qureishi said.

The emotions that came along with each of the stories was truly something that made students from Amnesty think about the differences in their own lives.

“It was a cry fest. Everyone was crying. It was really impactful because the opportunities aren’t really something we think about. It put everything in perspective after that,” Qureishi said.

After beginning a discourse with students at Omaha South, members of Amnesty club learned that immigration isn’t a black and white issue—everyone has a story to tell.

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Starting a Conversation