Immigration and Refugee Policy in Crisis Workshop
On February 18, 2017 the Curriculum in Global Studies hosted a workshop entitled “Immigration and Refugee Policy in Crisis: Reflections for a New President.”
Roundtable 1: Immigration Policy in Crisis
The morning panel focused on immigration policy, facilitated by Global Studies faculty member Dr. Angela Stuesse. The panel participants were Dr. Tanya Golash-Boza, a Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Merced who has researched and published extensively on issues of race and immigration; Dr. Ruth Gomberg-Muñoz, an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Loyola University Chicago whose ethnographic research with undocumented people and their family members explores how immigration status works to reproduce categorical inequalities in a “postracial” United States; Raul Pinto, a staff attorney at the North Carolina Justice Center in the Immigrants and Refugees Rights Project; and Dr. Laura López-Sanders, an Assistant Professor of Sociology at UNC-Chapel Hill whose research focuses on access to and utilization of health services for unauthorized immigrant populations and the influence of race relations on the integration of unauthorized Latina/o immigrants in new immigrant gateways.
The fruitful discussion addressed micro-to-macro levels of concerns related to immigration policy, such as the influence of harmful policies and the realities of fear, racism, and dehumanization prevalent today. The panelists answered audience questions on best practices and reiterated the importance of opposing policies of deportation by calling and petitioning elected representatives; fighting for comprehensive immigration reform; remaining vigilant about the link between local police and ICE; increasing outreach within immigrant communities; and supporting organizations and individuals at the grassroots level. Finally, the audience provided helpful suggestions and examples of the work being done in the Triangle including fundraising to refugee and immigrant legal organizations such as Alerta Migratoria, El Pueblo, El Centro Hispano, Triangle Immigrant Rights Network, and the UNC organization Students United for Immigrant Equality (SUIE); serving as translators and interpreters for immigrants in the area; and importantly, using the skills and influence of the university to continue conducting research and data collection that can influence policy change in a positive way.
Roundtable 2: Refugee Policy in Crisis
The afternoon panel focused on refugee policy and was facilitated by Dr. Hannah Gill. The panel participants were Ms. Evelyn Smallwood who currently serves as the America Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Carolinas’ Chapter Asylum Response Coordinator, Dr. Julie Linton who serves as the Advocacy Director for the Wake Forest Pediatric Residency Program, and Ms. Cynthia who works as the Training Coordinator/Assistant Director at the Center for New North Carolinians, UNCG. Together the panelists emphasized the importance of building integrated communities and collaborating and partnering across sectors to meet the needs of newcomers in our area. Another point emphasized by both the panelists and in comments from audience members is the need to get the facts—ask questions, do the research, find the evidence needed for more informed refugee policy decisions. Without collaboration and without improved data, progress in refugee policy will be difficult. But that does not mean that there is not spectacular work already being done. Panelists and audience members alike shared projects, groups and organizations they are involved in to help refugees in our area. The roundtable concluded with optimism when students from East Chapel Hill High School stood up and related the work they have already been doing with their Refugee Outreach Club. But for those of us past the high school age, there are still plenty of opportunities—just take the initiative and get involved!