by Rae Francoeur
“Immigrants are and always have been assets to our communities and our economy,” says Denzil Mohammed, the fourth speaker in a series of Immigration Conversations now underway at The House of the Seven Gables. “The very act of migrating is an entrepreneurial act,” he says.
On Wednesday, June 24, at 6 p.m. Mohammed will add to a discussion begun this spring by Aviva Chomsky, social activist, who made the point that almost all of our families were immigrants at one time.
This important immigration conversation is happening all over the country, says Ana Nuncio, Manager, Settlement Partnerships, at The House of the Seven Gables. She urges everyone who is interested to come and participate in this dialogue. All Immigration Conversations take place at The House of the Seven Gables Visitor Center, 115 Derby St., Salem, MA 01970. The public is welcome, free of charge and refreshments will be served.
“Salem has always been a gateway city,” Nuncio told the group attending a previous Immigration Conversation that featured a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services presentation on defining immigrant status. “Our founder here at The Gables was passionate about helping people settle into this community. We’re hoping that these conversations assist with that mission.”
Nuncio also made the point that the discussion is furthered by the interaction between the speaker and the audience. “The best part of these conversations are the questions,” she said.
Next Wednesday’s speaker, Denzil Mohammed, is the Assistant Director at The Immigration Learning Center, Public Education Institute. The organization provides education to immigrants. It also conducts research used to support immigrant populations and educate the country on issues related to immigration. His topic, “Immigrants as Assets,” will touch on his work and his findings.
“The majority of immigrants come to this country at working age,” says Mohammed. “They intend to work. What we want people to walk away with is an understanding that immigrants don’t need things but offer things. With that understanding, we can have a more balanced conversation. We bring facts, data, and research to the discussion. The conversation is missing this kind of information.”
The United States is a country formed and populated by immigrants. “Everyone’s shared Americanism is that we have links with the rest of the world. Every group has experienced the same thing; suffered tremendous backlash, run into a lot of stereotypes. This cyclical backlash has been the trend throughout our history,” says Mohammed.
“We try to remind people to look at themselves, to put themselves on an immigration timeline. We ask — Where did you come from, exactly? At one point they were brand new. Look at how immigration has enriched our country,” he says.
Immigration Conversations: Immigrants as Assets
Assistant Director: The Immigration Learning Center, Public Education Institute
Wednesday, June 24
The House of the Seven Gables Visitor Center
115 Derby St., Salem, MA 01970
For reservations, please call 978-744-0991, ext. 104
This post was written by Julie Arrison-Bishop