Activist discusses immigration during Diversity Dialogue


Activist discusses immigration during Diversity Dialogue

By Morgan Fink

DeKALB — Members of DREAM Action NIU and the Asian American Resource Center hosted the final Diversity Dialogue of the semester and chose to feature an undocumented immigrant from South Korea.

Ju Hong is an immigration activist and shared his story via discussion and the screening of a documentary with NIU community members Tuesday in the Carl Sandburg Auditorium. Hong is one of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., according to a March 6 New York Times article.

In the 21-minute-long documentary “Halmoni” directed by Anna Oh, Hong returns to South Korea to reconnect with family members he hadn’t seen in 13 years, including his grandmother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

This segment of the event also included Hong’s presentation about the importance of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals activists and supporting undocumented students.

“There’s so many things students can do to support undocumented immigrants,” Hong said. “One is really pushing for policies that would provide safe spaces for undocumented students to convene and share their own stories and to organize themselves to push for policies in the institutional level to help undocumented students.”

DREAM Action NIU and the Asian American Resource Center worked together to bring Hong to NIU, said Christian Moy, senior rehabilitation and disability services major.

“Everyone can relate with an undocumented student or has heard about the struggles undocumented students have gone through,” Moy said. “People can hear about the importance of undocumented students and their struggles through his documentary.”

Hong interrupted a speech delivered by former President Barack Obama about immigration reform in 2013. Hong was standing behind the former president when he began shouting about deportation practices.

He urged the former president to use his power to stop deportation of undocumented people and became part of national and international headlines after Obama responded to Hong’s statements.

Hong said during the Diversity Dialogue he hopes students will take on a bigger role in supporting undocumented students.

“I want these students to know they’re not alone; we are here to support them,” Hong said. “I really encourage them to reach out to organizations on campus to get information and resources around undocumented immigration issues and how to support those students on campus.”