Immigration 'takes a role' at UTB

The University of Texas at Brownsville say they addressing immigration issues affecting the nation through a theater production.

On Sunday afternoon, students performed a play titled "Rowing to America: The Immigration Project."

In one of four acts, Priscilla Jerez played the role of a young woman looking for a better life.

Instead, the young immigrant ends up dead after she attempts to cross drugs into the U.S. in order to survive.

A familiar story that often makes headlines.

"People are scared to bring it up (the topic of immigration) because people are scared," Jerez said. " It's either you do know someone who is an immigrant or you don't - and if you do it hits closer to home if you're talking about it."

UTB Professor John Cook said he's been working to tackle the silence surrounding difficult issues, like this one, for the past four years.

The university even received a grant called "The Difficult Dialogue Initiative" from the Ford Foundation to help in the efforts.

"I think that (the topic of immigration) gives people feelings of being disenfranchised," Cook said. "Because of that, and because of the challenges we face as a bi-cultural community like this where it is so important to be able to blend our cultures, the topic of immigration becomes important."

Jerez said taking on the role of a dead immigrant gave her new insight.

"It's not easy," Jerez said. "People who try and come to this country - you know (some people) think that they are just crossing taking our jobs and doing all these things - but I mean it's not easy. They go through a lot of hardships to get here and they're trying their hardest to get here to find a better life." Students said as more and more immigrants try their luck for a better life, the stories will only continue