PALM DESERT, Calif. - Immigration reform is a big debate in Washington with millions of people in the country illegally. Some argue in favor of a path to citizenship, others argue that the U.S. needs to control its borders.
The debate is taking front and center at Xavier High School in Palm Desert this week as part of its annual school summit. Students are choosing to focus on the controversial issue by holding conversations, assemblies, and activities to better understand the social, political, and economic impact of immigration.
One of the activities included students having to carry visas or green cards in order to get into school.
"On my way down here my friends and I got stopped because we didn't have our green card and it was very inconvenient. I mean I feel like this is at school, and it's like people feel like that every day," said Xavier senior Valeria Ruiz.
More than 40 million foreign-born immigrants now live in the United States and make up for more than 13% of the population. There are an estimated 11 million people in the country illegally.
"This is a big issue for our valley, Coachella valley. We have a lot of migrant workers here and I think everyone in the valley has pretty much come from somewhere," said Jimmy Tricco, Director of Campus Ministries and Student Life at Xavier High School.
Tricco helped organize the event.
"There's obviously a lot of suffering and brokenness that could take place with immigration. People are forced to sometimes to leave their homes, they're seeking a better life, and we wanted to get to the root of that," he said.
Student Aba Saman's parents migrated from Egypt. The topic he said is certainly hitting close to home for him.
"It is important to realize that this is a real issue and I'm just excited to see how it affects other cultures not only mine," he said. "Whether your for immigration or not, this is a global issue and people need to be informed," he added.
Valeria Ruiz said she's learning an important lesson.
"It's good because its bringing up what it is in real life, its very controversial and it's a real problem," she said
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