To my surprise, the government and Metro were not closed due to the snow and ice which meant that Friday could go as planned. We met at the National Archives where a William & Mary alumnus gave us a private tour. Aside from the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, he showed us many unique documents that included the last page of George Washington’s inaugural address, documents from anti-suffrage women’s groups, and the Magna Carta. This was definitely the best trip to the National Archives I’ve ever taken.
After the National Archives we went back to the William & Mary DC Office in DuPont Circle to have a long lunch break and prepare for our panel on immigration reform. Alumna Emily Benavides (’07) from the National Hispanic Leadership Network and Laura Vasquez from the NCLR came to the DC Office speak about immigration reform. Emily works to get Republican members of the House of Representatives behind immigration reform, which sounds like an especially grueling job in today’s political climate. Both Emily and Laura agree that the current immigration system is broken but do not completely agree on how to go about fixing it. Laura argued that the visa system in general needs to be reformed, specifically by increasing the number of family and work visas distributed, which is barely considered in the current Senate package. Emily supports programs like E-Verify and the Senate bill’s current path to citizenship program that Laura claims takes too long and is too expensive to completely fix our problems. Remarkably, the class agreed that if the two sat down and wrote a new immigration bill it would probably pass in both the House and Senate.
The discussion on immigration reform between the two and our class was extremely informative and riveting. When they left Professor Evans led the class in a brief discussion about the effectiveness of their organizations and whether any immigration legislature will be passed in the current political situation. He argued that we probably will not see much progress on the matter any time soon, but I cannot help but to be optimistic after hearing these remarkable ladies speak.
At 4:30 our required day was over, but the DC Office had more planned for our group. They took us to dinner and a Capitol Steps show. The Capitol Steps are a sketch comedy group made up of people who used to work on the hill that now work making fun of all that happens in DC. Unfortunately, I had already seen most of the show since AMP Comedy brought them to William & Mary earlier last semester, but it was still hilarious. At the end of the day I rode the Metro home with the other exhausted students commuting from northern Virginia, this was our first taste of the long days to come during the program!