Experts in Labor Economics, Immigration Join Nichols Students for Cultural Panel


DUDLEY, Mass.—Nichols College recently welcomed guest speakers from Mount Holyoke College and the University of Nebraska to offer their expert opinions on the topic of immigration. David Hernandez, professor of Spanish and Latino Studies at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass., along with Professor Emeritus Hendrik Van der Burg of the University of Nebraska; and Judy Ansel, director of Labor Studies at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, joined members of the Nichols student Economics Club and other students for an expert-led discussion Oct. 27, 2016, on immigration policies.

Nichols Professor of Economics Hans Despain introduced each guest speaker, noting his relationship to each and their individual accomplishments.

Ansel began with an argument against multinational organizations and their treatment toward underpaid workers in Latin American countries, calling on the fact that “workers in Mexico make $4 a day; that’s all they make.”

With his presentation “Understanding Immigrant Detention: An Overview,” Hernandez shared statistics concerning Hispanic and Latino immigrants and their controversial treatment. He stated that “90 percent of apprehensions, detentions, and deportations at the border are Latinos” and that approximately 429,000 Latinos are detained every year.

Van der Burg is an immigrant from Holland, who moved to the United States with his parents in 1959 at age 7. He said he owes his chance to immigrate to the U.S. due to an opening posted for Dutch farmers. Due to flooding in the 1950s, many farmers in Holland experienced a loss of their livelihood; the U.S. extended an invitation for the displaced farmers to come to the United States and continue their farming here. When many farmers did not embrace the offer, Van der Burg’s family took the opportunity to relocate from Holland to the U.S.

Economics Club Vice President Dailaine Dos Reis shared her appreciation for being able to meet and dine with the guest speakers prior to the event.

“Having the ability first-hand was a great opportunity for networking,” she said.

Dos Reis also spoke from her own perspective as an economics enthusiast and immigrant, noting, “Having the ability to converse with qualified experts in the aspect of immigration and being an immigrant myself, I feel that they helped positively integrate immigration reform into a cohesive conversation.”

Topics covered over the span of the event included the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), international and domestic terrorism, job outsourcing, and border control policies.

The event was sponsored by the Fischer Institute at Nichols, which works to offer students cultural experience to broaden their understanding of international events and issues.

Pleased with the outcome of the panel, Dos Reis said: “We students feel it’s important to diversify our perspectives, which is especially important when discussing the concept of immigration. These experts brought us a new take on the impact immigration has, as well as the micro and macro perspective on the community.”

Megan Fields is a Nichols College senior marketing major and psychology minor. She interns for the College’s Office of Marketing and Communications.

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