The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Immigration discussion enlightens students

Marc Lacey, chief of the Phoenix bureau of the New York Times, spoke to St. John’s students Tuesday on the controversial topic of immigration.

Originally from Flushing, Lacey has worked for the Times since 1999, traveling across the globe and spent five years covering Africa out of Nairobi and four covering Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.

Before he spoke to the students gathered in Marillac Auditorium, Lacey talked with the Torch about his experiences with the topic of immigration and what he wanted to be taken away from the discussion.

Lacey stressed that the issue and the controversial debates that continually rise over it are not limited to the United States, specifically Arizona, where he has extensively covered the battle over immigration.

“There are debates over immigration laws and how to deal with migration all over the world,” he said. “And in every country that I’ve been based in and every country I’ve traveled with, it’s an issue that comes up again and again.”

“I feel as though, although now I’m focusing a lot of time on immigration and the debates going on, it’s something I’ve been covering my whole career.”

One of the biggest issues that Lacey has been covering in Arizona is the debate over birthright citizenship.

According to him, there is a growing movement in Arizona to alter or “reinterpret” the 14th Amendment, which says that all children born inside the borders of the U.S. are automatically citizens of the country, regardless of their parents’ citizenship. 

Lacey experienced this previously when he was working as bureau chief in Mexico City.

“In the Dominican Republic, which I covered when I was based in Mexico, they had similar debate some years ago and they changed their constitution,” he said. “The children of Haitian immigrants living in the Dominican Republic are no longer considered citizens of the Dominican Republic. I wrote about that controversy and it’s very heated, it still is being played out.”

He stated that the global diversity of the issue is something that both the citizens and government of the U.S. can learn from, if they can leave the emotional aspects behind.

Lacey said that he gets emails from readers of all political beliefs who are equally incensed by the ongoing debates. He encouraged people to learn as much as they can about immigration, but does not want to be their only resource.

“My goal as a journalist is not to decide who is right and wrong in this debate, it’s to try to layout what the facts are, to make people think about their positions, to make people see the bigger picture,” he said.

Lacey views speaking at a school like St. John’s, with its diverse student population, as an opportunity to talk to students who have dealt with the trials of dealing with immigration.

“A lot of what I have written about and experienced around the world, this is the everyday life of some of these people in this college,” he said. “People have come here from all around the world, they’ve had to experience our immigration rules and restrictions and our system, which many people think is not very functional, and they’ve had to personally deal with it.”

For more information on Marc Lacey and the topic of immigration, visit

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