Current Challenges in Refugee Policy Panel 5

– I’m Anne Richard, and
I am an adjunct professor here at Georgetown, and more
importantly, am an alumna. So, Hoya Saxa! And we are super fortunate to have a stellar lineup of experts for this fourth and last panel on the future of US refugee
resettlement policy, which unfortunately should
probably be relabeled, is there a future for
US resettlement policy? But the four colleagues
who are joining me today are experienced, they are activists, and they are very knowledgeable. And as I told colleagues
from the Berkley Center, any one of them could
handle this assignment of summarizing what’s going on. So we are spoiled by having
all four of them here today. So my role is merely to play traffic cop and make sure we bring
out as many of the facets of the situation currently as we can. And I think we’ll allow
for a little overlapping in terms of what the panelists talk about, because they work for four
different organizations and the four are similar in some ways, but also have some
interesting differences. There is no one cookie-cutter approach to resettlement of refugees, although there are some things required by the State Department’s
Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration in terms of
how refugees are resettled. The news right now in this community is that the number of
refugees being resettled has dropped drastically under
the Trump administration. The average number over the history, going back to the Vietnam War
era, post-Vietnam War era, the average number of refugees resettled in the United States works out to 95,000. And in the Obama administration, we were headed in that direction, we’ve achieved 85,000 with
the help of all these partners and UNHCR and the International
Organization for Migration. And President Obama put out a target level of 110,000 refugees to be resettled in that last year before leaving office. And the numbers have
come down steadily then under the Trump administration. The 110,000 was never accomplished, instead it was 53,000 that year, and then the numbers subsequently
where the targets were 45,000, 30,000, and now
18,000 for this year. And very specific requirements
about who can come in that does not allow for, really keeps out a lot of people who need
a new place to live, need a better place to live, and would fit right in
here in the United States. So let me give you a little background on each of these superstars and then we’ll jump right in after that. Jen Smyers who is here serves as the Director of Policy and Advocacy for the Church World Service Immigration and Refugee Program. Church World Service pulls together supporters from 37 Protestant, Anglican, and Orthodox communions. She has been with Church World
Service for a dozen years. She previously worked with
Border Action Network in Tucson and the Migration Policy
Institute here in Washington. She also serves as the chair of Refugee Council USA’s
Advocacy Committee. She went to school in Washington, DC at American University and
got her undergraduate degree and MAM Public Policy there. Next, let’s talk about
Nazanin Ash next to me. She is Vice President for
Public Policy and Advocacy at the International Rescue Committee, a visiting policy fellow at the Center for Global Development. Previously, she was a
deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at the Department of State, she was also Principle
Advisor and Chief of Staff to the first Director of
US Foreign Assistance, and a administrator at USAID. She went to Bryn Mawr
undergrad and has a master’s also in public policy
from the Kennedy School. Naomi Steinberg, who you can’t
miss in the shocking pink and bright orange (laughs) serves as the Director of Policy and Advocacy, now wait a minute, what am I doing, serves as Vice President for
Policy and Advocacy for HIAS. Previously, Ms. Steinberg was the Director of Refugee Council USA. Refugee Council USA is the coalition of do-good groups that care specifically about refugees around the world, but also including all the groups that resettle refugees in the US, all nine of the groups that do that. Prior to her work with
Refugee Council USA, Naomi was the Deputy Director of the Southeast Asia Resource
Action Center, SEARAC, which led in putting together community-based refugee organizations. She went undergrad to Macalester College and got her master’s in Cornell. And Jenny Yang is the Vice President of Advocacy and Policy of World Relief. World Relief has great support among the Evangelical community. She has also served as
Director of Advocacy and Policy at World Relief, and as
a senior case manager. She was an active deployment roster for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. She has a background before
she came to this work in fundraising and campaigning for local Maryland politicians. She’s the coauthor of
a book on immigration. She has taught, and she was named one of 50 Women to Watch by
“Christianity Today”. She went to school at Johns Hopkins, where she studied international relief. I have had the pleasure of
either being lobbied by them (all laughing) or joining them in lobbying other people at different
stages of my career. So (laughs) I feel among friends. We’re gonna kick off by
asking Jen to set the stage a little more about
this number, the 18,000. You know, why is that the wrong number? Let’s just jump in there rather than ask, is that the right number? Let’s start by asking why
is that the wrong number and what is Church World
Service doing about it? – Sure, thank you, Anne. It’s a pleasure to be here, and a pleasure to be on
this panel with all of you. So 18,000 is absolutely the wrong number. It’s the lowest number in the history of the US Refugee Resettlement Program. And, as Anne mentioned,
historically the average refugee admissions cap has been 95,000. Each year that President
Trump’s been in office, he has set a new record low for
that refugee admissions cap, first 50,000, then 45,000, then 30,000 and now 18,000. And it should be noted
that this is being done in the worst displacement crisis that the world has ever seen. We’ve now surpassed the numbers that we saw following World War II. There are more than 70 million people who are displaced across the globe, including more than 25 million refugees. And that is the time
when the US is retreating from our historic leadership
position internationally when it comes to refugee protection. And it’s shameful. I think what makes it more shameful is that the administration
has used different excuses that have been debunked time and again to try to justify these low numbers. First they said that refugees
were a security threat. Well, we know that’s not true, refugees go through the
most strident vetting of anyone to come to the United States. Then they said that, “Well, refugees are a
burden economically.” And then their own study
that HHS did proved that that’s not true, proved
that refugees contribute to the US economy. And that’s been followed by studies from New American Economy, the National Bureau of
Economic Research and others. And then the administration
started saying, “Well, we have to reduce
refugee resettlement “because of all the asylum seekers “that we’re seeing coming
in at our southern border.” But then simultaneously, they have dismantled the US asylum system. And they have actually
reduced asylum seekers to all-time lows because
they are rejecting them, forcing them back to Mexico
and not allowing them to proceed, showing
that the administration really doesn’t want to welcome anyone who’s fleeing persecution regardless of where they’re from or how they’re trying to seek protection. So it’s the wrong number,
and there’s no excuse, there’s no justification for
setting a number that’s so low. But also, refugee resettlement is not just a humanitarian program. It is part and parcel
of US foreign policy. It allows us to work with other countries and provide leadership so
that we can set an example for other countries to do the same, to allow refugee children to go to school, to allow refugees to work,
to keep their doors open to refugees at their borders. And we’re not doing that now, and it’s a very drastic time
for us to not be doing that. Refugees are also positively
impacting the US economy. They allow refugees to become ambassadors of the American dream,
and they’re a testament to US moral leadership, and
that’s what we’re abdicating when we’re reducing the
number this stridently. It’s also worth noting that even 18,000 is likely not going to be met the way that the administration has
carved out different categories. Every other administration in the history of the US Refugee Admissions Program has set regional allocations, but this administration has wiped that out and has instead set very
specific categories, 5,000 slots for people
fleeing religious persecution, 4,000 slots for Iraqis who
served alongside US troops in US interests, 1,500 slots for people from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. And then only 7,500 slots
for the rest of the world. And if you look at where the
administration has failed to put resources, in terms of USCIS, US Citizenship and Immigration
Services interviews, it’s just not really possible for them to even reach their own numbers. And that’s part of it, they
know that that’s the case. And I think that it’s really on all of us to hold them accountable to
at least meeting this number. If you’re gonna set the
lowest number in the history of the resettlement program,
well, you better well meet it. But I’ll transition, ’cause I could talk about this for a long time. In terms of what we’re doing
that we’re seeing traction on, and I know my colleagues
will talk about this as well, I’d like to highlight three things, and one is rebuilding bipartisan support. There is still bipartisan
support for refugee resettlement. And we’ve seen that from a very active Bipartisan Congressional Refugee Caucus in the House of Representatives, and multiple letters
signed by both Republicans and Democrats in the US Senate, most recently a letter
led by Senator Lankford, a Republican in Oklahoma
and Senator Coons, a Democrat from Delaware,
with nine Republicans and nine Democrats in the US Senate signing on supporting the US
Refugee Resettlement Program. That has been very useful to make sure that the Trump
administration is really solo in it’s opposition to the US
Refugee Resettlement Program. It’s an anomaly, and the
program does continue to have bipartisan support
and needs to be rebuilt. The second piece has
been local organizing, seeing refugees themselves,
sharing their stories with Members of Congress and
state and local officials has helped them know that
refugees are their constituents, they vote, and they need to be respected. And that has really led to a
lot of that bipartisan support that we’ve seen on the national level. And then the third thing I’d
mention is escalating efforts. You can’t use the same tactics when things get worse and worse. You have to make sure that you’re upping the ante, if you will. And one of the ways that
we have done that is by escalating what our tactics look like. It’s not just letters and
meetings and phone calls and protests even, or prayer vigils, it’s also civil disobedience. And I’m happy to, you know,
to point out for those of you who didn’t know, that
our very own Anne Richard joined us just a few short weeks ago in front of the US Capitol
as one of 18 protestors, 18 for the 18,000 lowest number ever for refugee resettlement, being arrested in a
coordinated civil disobedience. And that is powerful. It also brings home the fact that these are real people’s lives, that this is what’s at stake, and that the refugee resettlement program is worth these types of actions and putting our own personal
interests on the line. – It’s a good a moment to thank Professor Beth Ferris
for covering my class that day that I got arrested.
(all laughing) Behind every criminal is
some poor moll, I guess. So I now wanna turn to Nazanin Ash, and Nazanin works for
International Rescue Committee. And IRC has done a phenomenal
job raising the profile of a lot of different
issues related to refugees. IRC works overseas and also
resettles refugees in the US. What is IRC doing to
counter these policies? Do you see anything that
is getting traction? Do you have any hope that we can stop the sort of assault against
refugees and immigrants being carried out by the
Trump administration? – Yeah, I really do have a lot of hope, and that’s in no small part due to the panel I’m sharing here with this group of
really extraordinary women, and their really extraordinary
organizations and communities and constituencies that they represent, and the way in which this
community has come together and has joined forces with
broader advocacy groups, human rights, immigration,
business, military, a growing constituency of
grasstops and grassroots, who have been given the opportunity in this oppositional environment to plant their flag for refugees and for humanitarian
leadership, and they really are. So I think one way to
assess what’s happening is, you know, to think about
the remarkable stats that you and Jen have both described. Like, what the tumble has been in humanitarian leadership from the top and how far we’ve fallen from a decades-long
bipartisan average of 95,000 to where we are today
with a ceiling of 18,000. And at the same time, I
think there are a number of other ways to look through that prism. When the Trump administration first, and it was even before
the Trump administration came on board, like when
you think about the moment in September 2015 when
Aylan Kurdi was found on a beach in Turkey, and
the tremendous outpouring of support for refugees that resulted. I mean, I think all of our
organizations would say we couldn’t keep up with the public outreach and the incredible desire
to support refugees. Over the course of that same fall, you know, you had the Paris
attacks and the Orlando attacks and the San Bernardino attacks. Over the span of less
than five months we moved from an incredibly high
point for refugee support to, you know, ensuring
that federal legislation barring the admission
of refugees didn’t pass. In that moment, we had 31 governors across the country standing up
to reject refugee admissions. You had 53 pieces of state
level legislation seeking to reduce rights and access for refugees. So I articulate that
just to give you a sense of what we were facing. The attacks were coming from above in terms of federal policy,
administration policy, but they were also coming from below. And truly they were, it was Republicans and Democrat governors that were among those groups. So it was a moment of extreme
threat and vulnerability. And what’s been amazing to see is how all of these organizations and
the communities we work with and the broader network of
supporters and advocates that we work with have
shown up for refugees. So as Jen articulated,
our mission number one in that moment was to mobilize and defend, and we really did. And I think what’s amazing to consider now from that moment I described, you know, over the course of the
last three years we’ve had to defeat over 100 pieces of
negative state legislation, even as we have been fighting the battles we’ve been fighting at the federal level. But the trends are totally
turning in our direction. And the challenge for
all of us is gonna be how do we take advantage of
this oppositional moment, this moment where our
issues are at the forefront of public consciousness
and people are being asked to make a decision about where we stand? And I’m really pleased
to say that what we find is that, increasingly,
they are standing with us, they are standing with refugees, they are standing for pathways to safety for vulnerable populations. So this last year was the first year that positive state legislation outnumbered negative state
legislation three to one. And I think that’s a story
that’s not often told, and it’s a credit, again, to
all of these organizations. And while that number
has consistently tumbled and the administration finds
new and interesting ways to weaken this program, including now with an executive order
that requires the consent of governors and mayors in
order to resettle refugees in their states, we have also
been able to take advantage of this opportunity for defense to rebuild a positive bipartisan
constituency for refugees. And that gets to sort of pillar number two of what we need to do is,
in this proactive space, in this rebuilding space,
and as Jen said importantly, ensuring that it’s bipartisan. But what we see that’s
happening and that’s working is, you know, I’ve already mentioned
the positive legislation at the state level and how
that’s increasing and expanding. This is the year where we
introduced federal legislation to protect the refugee admissions program. We have the GRACE Act,
we have Lady Liberty, we have the NO BAN Act,
we have a number of pieces of legislation that have
Congress stepping in to legislate a floor
for refugee admissions that’s in line with the
historic average of 95,000. It’s got over a quarter of the
Senate as cosponsors already and it’s approaching 90
cosponsors in the House. That’s amazing, from a
moment where everybody, Republicans and Democrats
alike, were afraid to speak out in support of this issue
to now tabling legislation, bringing forward federal legislation to protect this program when
the administration will not. We have new stakeholders declaring their support for refugees. So alongside traditional
community organizations and faith groups who have
always been there in support for vulnerable populations,
what’s been wonderful to see are strong and emerging
partnerships with business, strong and emerging partnerships with the national security sector. These new sectors that,
again, have been given their opportunity and are
seizing the opportunity to declare their support and talk about how the refugee admissions
program benefits business, makes America stronger,
promotes our values, and serves our humanitarian
leadership goals, and our strategic interests. And then we’ve also really looked to mobilize our constituencies. And every place where all
of our organizations work, and we’re across the
country, we’re in red states, we’re in blue states,
we’re in purple states. Each of our organizations,
every place where we work, we work with a network of
community organizations, churches, local employers,
who partner with us to hire refugees, local law enforcement, mayors, city councils. And what we hadn’t done
previously was mobilize those relationships and build a more durable constituency for refugees at these grassroots and the grasstops. But that’s what we’re doing now. And on top of that, we’ve
been looking for ways to capture the public’s desire to act. So whether you’re a volunteer
with one of our organizations, or directly in our
communities and showing up for rallies and vigils and advocacy days, or if you’re a member of the
public and you are seeing these issues, you’re seeing
it and then you want to act. And one of the innovations in
our advocacy since has been to offer those mass mobilization tools, to give people an opportunity
to sign up as advocates, to get involved, and when we need to make, you know, calls to our
governors, to our local councils around state legislation,
and when we need to mobilize those constituencies
around federal legislation. And what’s been really
interesting to see is we’ve built that network, which is now approaching 250,000 strong, is that we have mobilized constituents in red states on a higher per capita basis than we have even in blue states. And that tells you again
what the opportunity is in these moments of opposition. And that’s been really powerful. So when we look across the states where we have the largest
constituencies of advocates, they correspond with some
of our highest risk areas, Texas, Florida, Arizona, and also places you wouldn’t
think about like Idaho. And so it’s amazing to see
how eager Americans are to act in support of what a broad swath of Americans believe, which
is that the US must be a place of safety for people fleeing
violence and persecution. I’ll stop there. – Great. A quarter of a million people who care about this issue and are
willing to take action, that’s a good news. I’m feeling better just sitting here listening to my talents. (all laughing) I wasn’t feeling this good
before the panel started. And the International Rescue
Committee is nonsectarian, whereas the three other
organizations count as faith-based. So let’s turn to Jenny Yang who, I think we’ve been in
the trenches together. [Jenny] Yes. – (laughs) She was my
go-to person for advice when we were working to resettle
refugees in South Carolina near Spartanburg and Greenville. And I got the privilege
of meeting and having to answer questions from
Congressman Trey Gowdy and then Congressman Mick Mulvaney. Whatever happened to him? A Georgetown grad. And because Jenny sort of understood, you know, what was powering
some of the Baptist churches in Spartanburg who wanted
to resettle refugees. And so we had a really interesting, it wasn’t a right, left dynamic, it was more of a sorta
conservatives arguing over what the right role is for Americans who wanna help refugees. So Jenny’s the expert on this, and I wanted to ask you about the role of faith-based groups in being involved in these issues and, you know, how do you
activate your supporters? – Sure. Well, I actually have
an interesting story. So I was just actually in
Fayettesville, Arkansas a couple of weeks ago speaking
at John Brown University, which is a moderate
Evangelical conservative, or moderately Evangelical
school, and so I was there and I actually got off the
plane and I was eating breakfast with some students, and they were saying, “You know, we organized
a student group called “Students for Refugees,
and we’re advocating for our school to support the GRACE Act.” And I said, “You know
what the GRACE Act is?” And they’re like, “Yeah, we’re mobilizing “our students because
we want 95,000 refugees “to come in next year.” And they’re like, “We get alerts “from the International Rescue Committee.” And I was like, “Wow, I didn’t
(panelists laughing) “know this news was going outside!” And so all of breakfast
they were asking me is the GRACE Act gonna pass, in this small school, this
Christian school in Arkansas. And they were mobilizing
their entire campus. In fact, two years ago when
the governor came to speak at their chapel, the students
were so gung ho about this and they were so upset that
the governor of Arkansas was one of the governors
that had publicly said that they didn’t want Syrian refugees coming into their state that they protested him during the chapel and they forced the chapel organizer to get a five to 10 minute meeting with the governor afterwards. And they brought him some
pie as a sign of hospitality. And they basically had this
conversation with the governor, pressing him, to say that wanted Arkansas to continue to be a welcoming state. And so this mobilization
work that the IRC is doing, that all of our organizations are doing together is very strong. And I think it speaks to the
fact that we are reaching into communities, especially
for a lot of young people, and for many of you students out there that are really using
their voices to speak up, because the refugee resettlement
program traditionally has always enjoyed bipartisan support, and has always brought
conservatives, liberals together. It has brought faith-based
communities together to actually say that this is
a core part of our values, to express hospitality, to express welcome as a core part of our faith, and that’s what we’ve been
seeing really across the board. So it’s been really exciting. So World Relief, World Relief is one of the nine refugee resettlement agencies. Out of the nine, five of them are actually
faith-based organizations. And World Relief actually started as a refugee resettlement partner
with the State Department, because back in there early 1980s, the State Department realized
that in order for refugees to be successful in local communities, they needed the support
and the welcome of a lot of local communities,
including local churches and communities of faith
to actually welcome them tangibly into cities
that they were going to. So the State Department
actually approached World Relief to partner with them and
actually bring churches alongside in the refugee
resettlement program. And the refugee resettlement
program is the hallmark of a public-private
partnership, because it really, the State Department
even asked to utilize it as a foreign policy tool. Many of these refugees are
going to local communities that really need the
support of individuals there to help them learn English,
and transition into jobs and help with, you know,
homework and things like that that are critical to the success of refugees when they first get here. And so at World Relief
we’ve been working mostly with churches, a lot
with Evangelical churches in many communities
across the United States. And what was interesting to us is that over the past several years
at a time when we’ve seen significant policy
changes that have made it even increasingly more
difficult for refugees to come into the United States, we’ve actually seen an increase
in the number of volunteers that we have seen enter into
our offices to actually say, “I don’t know if I can change the policy “even though I’m raising my voice, “but what I can do is actually
tangibly welcome the refugee “that’s coming right
into my own communities.” And so we’ve worked with
over 1,400 local volunteers that have signed up as Good Neighbor Teams that are walking alongside these refugees that are coming in, and
basically helping them transition into their communities as well. And not only have we see an increase in the number of volunteers, two years ago in 2017
when the president signed his first executive order
banning certain nationalities from coming into the United States and suspending the refugee
resettlement program, we knew that this was
something that was gonna rub against the core tenants of
what many Evangelicals believed, but they didn’t know how to speak out and how to raise their voice. And so we actually opened a
sign-on letter during that time, and we got over 9,000 Evangelical pastors to sign on to that letter. And out of that 9,000, we
brought together around 100 of the top Evangelical
leaders in the country, including three or four
leaders of the largest churches in the country to sign on to this letter. And it was hard for us
to find an Evangelical in North Dakota, but after a Google search over the weekend and some networking, we were able to release a letter to say that we had Evangelicals from every state in the country supporting
refugees and immigrants, basically opposing the executive order. And so when we released that
letter it made a splash, because I think so much of the narrative around Evangelicals in this country is that they’re against refugees,
or that they’re anti-refugee. And in our experience as an agency that has worked through local
churches to mobilize them to support refugees, it’s
actually been the opposite. And I think this sign-on
letter that we released in February of 2017 was a testament to the fact that many church
leaders and many individuals are actually not just
actively doing the work of ministering to refugees
in their communities, but are actually actively
using their voice to speak out and say that
a core part of our faith means that we are to welcome the refugee. And I think for many
Christians in particular, we wanna welcome refugees because Jesus himself was a refugee. And if you follow Jesus, you’re actually a follower
of a Middle Eastern refugee. – [Anne] With a beard. – With a beard, yes. And so this idea that, you know, Matthew 25 calls us, that when we welcome the stranger, we’re actually welcoming Jesus himself. And so I think many
Christians take that to heart when they welcome the refugee, to know that we are actually
welcoming angels unaware and demonstrating hospitality in a way that demonstrates the best of our faith. And so I think that the challenges remain. Last month in October
it was the first month in over 30 years that we didn’t
receive a single refugee, which is a startling statistic, which means we have to do more. – [Anne] That’s the entire United States? – That’s the entire United States. – [Anne] Wasn’t just World Relief that didn’t get a single refugee. – Right, it’s not just World Relief, the entire United States, we didn’t resettle a single refugee in the month of October for
the first time in 30 years. So I think with the last
thing I’ll end with is this, is that the administration
has really been promoting an international religious
freedom agenda, rightly so. I think there’s an ongoing persecution of religious minorities
in many communities around the world, but in order to have a robust religious freedom agenda, you need to have a robust
refugee resettlement program that protects some of the most vulnerable who cannot actually return home. It is completely inconsistent
for the administration to be promoting religious freedom abroad and not actually preaching at home what we’re preaching what
we’re preaching abroad, which is actually allowing those who are fleeing religious persecution to find a home in the
United States of America. Just as an example, just
this past fiscal year, we resettled 20 Yazidis
in the United States, whereas in the past few years we’ve resettled over 400
Yazidis in the United States. So seeing a drop from 400
to around 20 last year is a significant drop,
and there are many more including Rohingya and others
that need resettlement, and this is oftentime their
only lifeline and protection, which we’re dismantling as we speak. So the need for this ongoing
community commitment, the need especially for
faith-based organizations is greater now than it’s ever been. – Thank you. Our final speaker on this panel is Naomi Steinberg and she’s from HIAS. Several of these organizations date back to the immediate
post-World War II era and, you know, a desire on
the part of Americans to help people displaced then and to make sure we never had that problem turning away people who were
fleeing for their lives. HIAS is old, HIAS is over 100 years old. It goes back to being the
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and I don’t know if you know the exact years it’s been around. – [Naomi] I do, we are
almost 138 years old. – [Woman] That’s amazing. – That’s a little more than 100 years. – [Naomi] Yeah. (all laughing) – So I asked Naomi to bat cleanup as we say here in the
district of champions. And I wanted to hear her views on sort of the religious factor. I also am interested in how
HIAS is building support among it’s supporters to take action. And also our original
charge to this panel was what reforms are needed in the program. I was less worried about that, ’cause I’m more concerned
about do we have a program? But it is a fair question, and you’ve been following
this for so long now because of your previous roles. So you’re the perfect person
to answer that question. – Thank you, I do like going last ’cause I can essentially
just say, “Ditto,” because it’s inspiring to follow all of my friends and colleagues, but I agree with everything
that’s been said. As Anne said, HIAS, we’ve
been around for a long time, so 138 years. We were started on New
York’s Lower East Side to welcome refugees who were
fleeing pogroms in Russia. And then after that, we
helped to welcome Jews after the horrors of World War II Europe, from the former Soviet Union, from Iran, from Cuba, from Egypt, the list goes on. And the reason why I’m telling you this part of our history is
because in our first 120 years, we helped to resettle 4.5 million Jews. So our religious identity
is not only essential to America’s history, and to the refugee and immigrant history of this country, it is visceral in our organization, it is part of who we are and
why we do the work that we do. But over the years, of course,
refugee crises have changed, refugee flows have changed
and so has the work of HIAS. So now we work in 15 countries overseas as well as here in the United States, and we work with refugees of all faiths. And we do that because, as Jenny said, and it’s not just because of our history, but it’s because of who we are as Jews. In the Torah it says 36 times, there are references 36 times
to welcoming the stranger. That is the most frequently
mentioned rule, if you will, in the entire Torah. It is baked into who we are as a people. So even though there are Jews on staff, there are non-Jews on staff, we are all motivated by
that basic understanding of what brings us to this work. As we like to say, “We
used to help refugees “because they were Jewish,
and now we help refugees “because we are Jewish.” So I would also say that
this is not just a part of who we are looking back, this is a key organizing
principle in our work. We now have more than 430 congregations across the country who are
part of our Welcome Campaign, which means that they’ve
committed to helping to support refugees and
asylum seekers in any way, from direct volunteer
work, to donating money, and from my perspective,
to doing advocacy work. We now have, I think
it’s 12 coalition of Jews around the country doing
grassroots advocacy organizing. An example of that is
during the August recess, I wanna make sure I got
these numbers right, we had, it was 500
activists around the country in the month of August meeting with over 50 congressional offices, many of them with the
elected officials themselves. Representative Nadler met with a group of our coalition leaders for a full hour to talk about refugee resettlement
and the asylum program. And that just is the tip of the iceberg in terms of how we are organizing the American Jewish community. We are also in a place that we certainly don’t want to be in, our religious identity has been pushed to the forefront in a way
that nobody has wanted to see. We have been receiving attention for all of the wrong reasons. We just honored a week ago the lives of those who were lost in
Pittsburgh last October. 11 Jews were murdered in
the Tree of Life Synagogue by a madman who was
not just an antisemite, he was an antisemite
who also hated refugees, and he hated Jews who helped refugees. And we know this to be true because before he went on his rampage, he tweeted about HIAS and he used language
that our president uses. He talks about invaders
and what HIAS is doing to bring in the invaders. He didn’t make that language up, he turned the news on and heard our president speaking that way. And there is a conflation of antisemitism and anti-immigrant sentiment,
and anti-refugee sentiment, and white nationalism that has put HIAS at the forefront of a movement
we did not expect to be at. What happened in October last
year changed HIAS forever and it changed the Jewish
community in this country forever. But what we have also
seen is the outpouring of support for our work multiplied in ways that we can never have imagined. So now the onus is on us
to capture that interest, to capture that momentum and make sure that the movement we’ve
building outlasts the hate. And we have every intention of doing that. So with all of that said, that’s
what brings us to the work, and the question in terms of
what reforms we would like to see is, because this
program is surviving. I think this is a success that
we can’t forget to mention, which is there still is a
refugee resettlement program. And even though the 18,000
number is disgusting, I mean, that’s probably
not the most articulate way to say it, but it is, it is
egregious, and it is abhorrent. So there is no complacency there. But the fact that we’re
not welcoming zero refugees is a testament to what advocacy can do. And it is a testament to
the bipartisan support that we have all mentioned, because there is still a
fundamental understanding by many people in this city that refugee resettlement does
good things for the country, it does good things
for our foreign policy, it does good things for our economy. So that is a victory, because
this has been a laser focus of the administration,
literally since week one, to shut this program down. So we should take a little
bit of comfort in that. Not become complacent, but
recognize we have rebuilding to do, but it’s not from scratch. So the first thing the next
administration needs to do is, first of all, make it very
clear that they are supportive of a robust refugee resettlement program. And that can take many forms, not the least of which is
eradicating all of the changes that this administration has made to curtail refugee
protection in this country. I am operating under the assumption that the executive order that has been mentioned will
be turned back in the courts. And so that hopefully will be
a thing of a distant memory by the time the next
administration comes in. But a lot of changes have been made that will take some time to undo. So we need to start there. For example, we need to make
sure that the additional security checks that have been
put in place are calibrated in such a way that they continue to keep this program safe and secure, but don’t keep people out
who shouldn’t be kept out. As Jen said, there are thousands
and thousands of Iraqis who put their lives on the
line to support US troops, and are just simply not coming in because of the way this
program is operating now. So we need to roll back
those changes and go back to a place of common sense
to keep the program secure, but also to keep it functioning. We also need the next administration and all elected officials
to delink the asylum program and the US Refugee Resettlement Program. As Jen said, that there has
been this conflation of the two, and it’s really disingenuous
because the message really is that this administration
doesn’t want any refugees to be coming in. But we need to make sure that the refugee resettlement
program is strong, and that the asylum system is strong. This is not an anomaly, it’s
what the history has been, and we need to get back to that quickly. But there are a few key
policy recommendations that we would like to see. And I know my colleagues think
about this all of the time and so I hope you jump in. We’ve talked about the GRACE Act, you know, admitting at least
95,000 refugees per year. I also love that the GRACE Act
mandates quarterly reporting from the administration, because so much of the
changes, so many of the changes that we’ve seen have kind of been going on behind the scenes, a
little bit in the dark. It takes this being your full-time job, I mean, who knows what
we don’t know, right? But we need to make sure that
this is brought out to light and that they are held
accountable on a quarterly basis for how the program is operating. I forget which one of you it
was mentioned the NO BAN Act. We need to make sure that the
religiously-biased changes to this program are a thing of the past, that this cannot happen again. So we need to make sure that these types of changes are implemented
as soon as possible, the bigger picture things too. It would show a great deal
of support for this program ’cause we are going to have to rebuild. It has shrunk significantly, and it’s a lot easier to turn a program up than to turn it back on. So we need to see high-level coordination, a real commitment from the White House that the refugee resettlement
is not just a mere platitude or something on the side, that this is a real
commitment for this country. So we need to see high-level
White House coordination and other things we’d like to see that we’ve been talking
about for a decade plus. HIAS would love to see
that when refugees come to this country, they
come in as automatic LPRs, as legal permanent residents. We would love to see a program
that is more streamlined, and that goes back to some of the security
checks I was talking about. We would love to see
the consultation process actually make sense again. Before the presidential determination, the refugee admissions
target can be established the administration needs
to consult with Congress. And under many administrations it has been a difficult process, and we wanna see it
moved earlier in the year to allow time for significant planning, and to make sure that when
the next fiscal year starts, that we’re ready to
hit the ground running. We would like to see some flexibility. This used to be a big, big program and I don’t need to tell you this, it’s hard to move and be nimble, but sometimes you need to
move quickly and to be nimble. So we would like to see
opportunities for an emergency fund, to respond to emergency refugee crises and to be able to be nimble. And then, last but not least, I mean this list could go on and on, one of many of our
frustrations is that the US, for having a formal refugee
resettlement program since 1980, we have one of the least analyzed, one of the least studied
programs in the world. There are programs around the world that are much, much smaller
that have real deep analysis of how it works, what refugee
integration looks like, what works well and
what doesn’t work well. And we really need to invest
those kind or resources, and not in an advocates hoc way. I mean, there have been amazing studies from different think tanks
in different universities. We need our government to be transparent, not to push aside studies
that show the benefits of refugee resettlement, but
to really have a commitment to documenting what
refugee resettlement does for this country, how it
benefits who we are as a people. So those are a few of the key things. I could go on but I think I’ll stop. – Fabulous, fabulous. In a moment I’m gonna ask the audience if you all have questions, and I look forward to
getting your questions. Since I’m the moderator,
though, I’m gonna ask one of the first questions. And I also wanna check before we go to you to see if the panel has
questions for each other. My question goes to Nazanin. You were mentioning, for
example, a very large fraction of the House of Representatives that support key legislation. For me, I don’t think it’s hard to get Democrats right
now to support refugees. The tougher piece are Republicans. And, especially, Republicans
in the Senate really control, I really think the gates of things going from great ideas to reality. So what tactics do you all use in approaching Republican senators? – I really welcome
comments from the panel, on this one as well, I mean, because I think we’d all say it, whenever we’re using the word we up here, we’re talking about work that all of our organizations have done together. I think you raise a really
important question, Anne, and a reasonable person could ask, “Why are we working on
this kind of legislation? “It’s not like Trump’s
gonna sign it, right?” But what these pieces of legislation are are communication vehicles
and goalpost vehicles. So we would never want the American public to forget that the average across Republican and Democrat presidents, in fact, highest levels under Republicans over the 40 years of this program being mandated by Congress is 95,000. And I think that’s just not well known. When you have an administration
that is driving numbers as low as 18,000, it’s not
gonna be politically easy to just turn the light
switch back on and say, “Actually no, it’s gonna be 95,000,” unless we’ve got marker legislation that sets the alternative goalpost. So we think these pieces
of legislation are extremely important in setting
the alternative goalpost and making sure that
there remains a narrative and a public conversation
about what the historic average has been in that bipartisan history. And that’s the advantage of
legislation like the GRACE Act. It’s the same reason why
we would vocally oppose Republican legislation
that’s seeking to codify a lot of what the Trump
administration has done via executive order on asylum. Because when these pieces
of legislation get tabled, even if they’re not signed into law, they set the foundation for what the conversation returns to. So our absolute goal and
intention for the GRACE Act is to get at least a few Republicans
in the House signed on, and as Jen talked about, we have a bipartisan refugee caucus, so I think it’s possible. It’s gonna take a lot of
the same kind of advocacy and mobilizing that we’ve been doing, making sure that the constituents for those representatives
come forward and talk about their expectation of support for those pieces of legislation. But I think it’s an
achievable goal to get, you know, more than a couple in the House, Republicans on this
legislation and, you know, we’ve got our eye on a few key
senators on the Senate side. But I’ll say, even if
that doesn’t come to pass, establishing a legislative foundation for an alternative and
having this ability to talk about the alternative goalpost
remains critically important. What would my colleagues add to that?
– So mobilize key constituencies, educate about
the history, and appeal to the bipartisan tradition.
– Absolutely, and every single one of you, yes, can go to, probably any one of our
websites and find a petition for the GRACE Act. We’ve got this goal, of
getting 95,000 signatures to support 95,000 refugees. So you can go to the IRC,
you can go to any one of ours and put your name to this effort, ’cause it’s part of the
grassroots mobilization that we’ve doing to
demonstrate support for this. I’m actually quite convinced that if we really put
some muscle around it, we could get hundreds of
thousands in support for refugees. So help us make that happen. – Naomi, did you wanna add on? – Yeah, and I think I can see Jen like, like itching.
– I don’t see her. – So I’ll make this brief, I
wanna hear what Jen has to say about this, but, you know, I think talking about the
bipartisan history is important, but I think two things
also need to happen. And I should say, you know, we are a non-partisan organization, but I also just need, you know, I need to tell the truth of this, which is that we need
for there to be somebody in the White House who
isn’t using toxic rhetoric to talk about refugees, because we need to create the political space for people, for Republicans who actually
are not philosophically disagreeing with what we have to say, but are concerned about
the political optics. And as soon as we can create
that space and that helps, when the person who is leading the country is not vehemently opposed to refugees, I think that space will
become easier to fill because the foundation is there, we just need people to
have political courage, and you won’t need to
have quite as much courage when it’s not the political
third rail that it has become. I would also say that when we are speaking with more conservative offices, we speak about the program
a little bit differently. It is important to have
different messaging for different offices. We talk about the economic contributions that refugees bring to this country, we talk about the deep security benefits that refugee resettlement
means for this country, and what it means when we are retreating from refugee resettlement leadership, when we are leaving our
allies high and dry, what that means when we are
rolling up the welcome mat, but there are literally
millions of refugees in Jordan and in Lebanon
and in Bangladesh, the list goes on and on and on. And we’re bickering over 18,000. So we talk about this in a
little bit of a different way, and I think there’s still
a lot of space to do that. – It’s been interesting to
see supporters come from, supporting voices come from
the Pentagon for this program. – So I would say to Naomi’s point, I think there’s so many
Republican members of Congress who we talk with, and they’ll say, “We’re with you 100%, we just don’t want “to be the next tweet.” And so I think that that’s where
the courage piece comes in, but I think despite that fear, and despite the atmosphere that the administration has provided in being so anti-refugee themselves, I think there are four
reasons why we do have a lot of Republican supporters already that we need to push further to do more. I think one is that the
administration has over-corrected. We have members of Congress
who have never been with us, who in fact were trying
to reduce resettlement during the Obama administration who have said to me personally, “Well, 30,000, that’s definitely too low. “18,000 that’s absolutely too low.” So I think that it’s gone
too far and therefore there are many people who are willing to speak out who weren’t before. I think number two is all
politics is local, right? There is not one member of Congress who I have personally convinced from a meeting in DC that
they should change their mind. 100% of the mind changes
and the heart changes that we’re seeing from members of Congress are from their constituents
meeting with them, refugees, people of faith,
employers of refugees, veterans, people on the ground who are their constituents
sharing their stories, especially refugees themselves. And it’s one of the
things that we’re doing in terms of refugee leadership development that’s so life giving right now is seeing refugees telling their stories to their members of Congress. Representative Stivers is a great example. And he got it, he met with Jackie in Ohio who is still waiting
for her son to join her. She’s from Uganda. And he got it, and he
has done floor speeches and joined the Refugee
Caucus and led letters. And more of that needs to happen as well. I think the third thing
is a lot of members of Congress on both sides
of the aisle understand that this is part and parcel
of our foreign policy. They care about certain populations. So certain representatives
or senators might care about a certain religious minority group, or certain members might care about Iraqis who served alongside US troops, or certain members might care about a very specific nationality because they did a mission
trip there as a kid, or they have adopted
children from that area. And that always brings them to, “I care about this population,
why aren’t they coming in?” Because no one’s coming in. “Oh, I need to care about the
refugee resettlement program.” I think that’s been important. And then the fourth thing
has been safety in numbers. Once you get that first Republican on the bipartisan Refugee Caucus, it’s much easier to get number two, three,
four, five, six, seven. And I think that’s what we’ve seen in terms of a lot of these letters. You know, when Senator
Lankford and Senator Coons led this letter, it’s a little bit hard to get that second Republican,
but once we got them, we got nine in the course
of just a few hours. So I think that if you
have people go hand in hand it makes them feel like this is not being a political outlier, this is really something that we can all put our names behind. – Do you wanna add
anything, Jenny, before we go to the audience?
– No, I think that was good. – Okay, questions for my
favorite panelists today? Can’t see perfectly well. Yeah? Is there one right here? – [Woman] No, I was
pointing to over there. – Is that Beth?
– It’s Beth. – [Woman] This person right here. – I hear this young
woman in the front here. – [Beth] Hi, I’m Beth Ferris. Thanks for an amazing panel,
I thought you did a great job of tracing some of the complexity. But I wonder, maybe
speaking a little selfishly, do you see any way that
Georgetown could contribute as a university? You’ve talked a lot about advocacy, and many of our students
are already involved and may become more involved. But you mentioned, Naomi,
the need for some research, I mean, that’s something
we do pretty well. And it’s also something, at least my students are really anxious to do research that makes a difference, you’re not just writing for
a grade or an academic thing. Do you see a role for
Georgetown to provide some research that would be helpful in the refugee resettlement program? – I do. I do, can I take a shot at that? – Yeah go ahead. – Do you wanna start? – One of the, you know, we’ve all talked about how this program plays
an important humanitarian role, but also a strategic role. And I think that aspect of
the program has not been as well documented as it could be. And I think that with
a unique cross section of what Georgetown University looks at in it’s foreign affairs,
foreign service portfolio, and this one, there’s a unique opportunity to document what the US retreat from humanitarian leadership
has wrought abroad. So the IRC works in 40
countries overseas directly in the midst of crisis and conflict. We’re on the transit routes, including through places
like Libya and also Europe, and then we resettle refugees
across the United States. So we know sort of what that arc is of what motivates people, you know, what’s happening to them
such that they need to flee. We know what they’re finding
in countries of first refuge and how challenging that can be. And we know what it means to
find a successful pathway home and to be able to rebuild. Naomi talked a lot about
how important it is to do research that
documents this piece of, you know, what the real success of refugee integration has
been in the United States. But importantly too, we
know that when the US leads, other countries follow, whether that’s a race to the
top or a race to the bottom. You know, when Anne
was assistant secretary of the Population, Refugees,
and Migration Bureau at the State Department, she led an extraordinary effort in US humanitarian
leadership that resulted in a global commitment
to double and then triple the number of resettlement slots globally, to increase by 30% the amount
of humanitarian financing and, importantly, to increase
rights and access for refugees to jobs and education in those
countries of first refuge. All of that has tumbled
as the US has retreated from it’s humanitarian leadership role. So where we used to, you know, our first port of call
if we were in a country that was closing it’s borders to refugees or that was denying work
rights or freedom of movement or access to education to refugees, our first port of call used
to be the United States to come in and help be an advocate for the rights and access
that refugees need to thrive. And that’s not there anymore. So documenting the impact of this retreat, the increased threat of
forced and premature returns, the ever-closing space for refugees to be able to rebuild their lives in countries of first refuge, the externalization of
borders and what that’s meant for people and their vulnerabilities, you know, like documenting
the relationship of that retreat to it’s
global consequence, and doing that in a systematic way would be a tremendous contribution. – Yeah, and just as example of that, I was just this afternoon
spending some time with a gentleman from the UK, and he was saying that because
the US has closed it’s doors to refugees, the UK is
now having conversations about limiting the number of refugees they’re gonna be accepting. And Canada has a tenth of the population of the United States, but they’re now resettling more refugees than the United States. And so, just in the past year, the number of refugee
admission slots globally has declined by 50% and
that’s in large part because of the lack of US
leadership in this space. And I would also just affirm the fact that not only studying the correspondence of what the ramification of a retreat of US leadership has been, but we always get asked for examples of how refugee resettlement
has impacted and opened and unlocked protection
dividends for refugees in places of conflict around the world. And there are so many good examples of how refugee resettlement has been used as a foreign policy
tool to stabilize areas, to provide refuge and stability to other immigrants or refugees that are coming into certain areas, that has allowed our allies
to feel a certain sense of security or solidarity
in what they’re facing. And so there are so many ramifications of refugee resettlement
that just go beyond bringing refugees here that
have global implications that have benefited host
communities and countries that are looking to do the right thing when it comes to refugees. And so studying what the
impact of that has been on the flip side, on the positive side in addition to what a
retreat has meant globally could also be fascinating way
for Georgetown to participate. – CSIS had a meeting that it pulled some
humanitarian leaders in, and I got to see Jan Egeland, who’s a former senior UN official and he’s also the chairman of
the Norwegian Refugee Council. And it was a nice reunion, but then he stepped back and
he looked at me and he said, “You know, the US is not really there “at a lot of the main conversations “about humanitarian effort.” So it’s not just resettlement, it’s all of the humanitarian response. And this is a big change.
– Humanitarian response. Humanitarian access, civilian
protection, everything. – Yeah, yeah, because we were so dominant, I think, up until the
Trump administration. – That’s right. – Any other hands? Yes, sir. Straight back. Hi, my name’s Josh Utter, I work for Jesuit Refugee Service USA. So I recently spoke with someone who is a resettled
refugee in San Francisco, and they brought to my attention the need, not only when we’re talking
about this decreased number, but the impact it has on
the resettled refugees already here, the United States, especially around the services
that agencies provide, especially regarding mental health, the impact that cutting this number down, so I’m just curious, how
does that play a role in your advocacy, especially
around the refugees that are here regarding
mental health, support, how those funds are disappearing when it’s more important than
ever to support refugees? – Do you wanna? – A large part of our advocacy is around the appropriations piece, and that’s making sure that we’re meeting with members of the
Appropriations Committee, on the State Foreign Operations Committee, and on the Labor, Health,
and Human Services Committee to make sure that there are not cuts to refugee related funding. And we have been able to maintain those accounts at a national level. The problem is, again, how this administration
prioritizes funding has not led to allowing the capacity of
refugee resettlement offices on the local level to continue
services at high levels. And, I mean, it should be
noted that, as Jenny mentioned, refugee resettlement already
is a public-private partnership that has never been well-funded, right? I mean, it’s always been underfunded, the needs have always been greater than the capacity to provide. But you’re absolutely right, in that, the mental health needs of refugees right now is
astronomically more so than it was prior to this administration. Because refugees right now, you know, I have a friend, Shaymaa,
who is resettled in Virginia, and she called me right when the first Muslim and refugee ban went into effect, and she said, “Jen, I was a
refugee from Iraq to Syria “and then from Syria to the United States, “am I gonna have to be a
refugee for a third time “because of this administration
saying I’m not welcome?” Refugees like her and others are grappling with what it means to have been
kicked out of their country, finally found safety,
and now being threatened. I mean, hate crimes are on the rise. We’ve had staff and clients
who have been threatened by people who, again, like Naomi
talked about in Pittsburgh, you know, are literally
quoting the president of the United States when
they’re carrying out hate crimes. So the need for funding for mental health
services is astronomical. It’s something we are bringing up with our appropriations
colleagues and I think for them, the best they can do is keep that funding where it is and not see additional cuts. But that’s where I think
all of us have been trying to think creatively about fundraisers, philanthropy partnerships, et cetera, to make sure that we’re
meeting those needs. The other part of this is that it also impacts family reunification, a lot of people who are still
waiting for family members. We have a case in Ohio a
man who his wife and child, newborn son, were approved
to come in January of 2017. And they’re still not together because of all of the policy changes and the reduction in numbers. And how that has a toll
on someone’s mental health in terms of survivor guilt, et cetera, I mean, all comes to play here. So there’s no perfect solution, but it is an ever present
issue on all of our minds. – And I would just add to
that, certainly as Jen said, it is a big-picture appropriations piece, making sure that the funding
is there just writ large. But what we’re also seeing now is, because fewer refugees are
coming in, the local and national resettlement infrastructure is shrinking. And so what that doesn’t
take into account is the resettled refugees
who are already here, and who are still entitled
to receive services that will help them get
their feet on the ground and start their long-term
integration process and the process of becoming new Americans. So at least 100 local organizations have either shut down completely from doing refugee resettlement, or had to shut down their
resettlement operations because of the lowering
number of refugees coming. And so that has a long-term impact of people who arrived three years ago, four years ago, five years ago, and have some challenges that they could really use some help with, and the services are no longer
easily accessible to them. – Yeah, and can I just comment, if you’re not aware of the executive order that the president signed
at the end of September, basically what he’s
saying is that starting, it was supposed to start on
Christmas Day, Merry Christmas, but if a governor of a
state and a locality, a county executive, does
not provide written consent to basically receive
refugees into that community, then refugees will not be allowed to be resettled to that area. This is basically de facto segregation that we’re seeing in 2019 because in no part of US
law can someone discriminate and basically limit someone’s
ability to reside somewhere based on their immigration status, and that’s exactly what
this executive order does. So now all of our resettlement
agencies basically have to get written consent from
the governor of a state and a county executive to allow refugees to be resettled to that state. Which means that if a
governor does not approve refugee resettlement in,
Texas, as an example, then all of these family
members that are waiting for their husbands and other
extended family members to come will not be able to
be reunited their families. And if you have ongoing
mental health trauma, it’s likely because
there’s no refugees coming into that state, that many
of our offices will close, which means that their
communities of support that provide case
management, trauma healing, will not be accessible or available to these individuals because
of this executive order. So this executive order is a nightmare. We’re challenging it, I
think several groups are, saying that this is completely
inconsistent with the INA. But again, I think that
adds additional layers of challenge to what we’re already seeing as a underfunded program. – But, or rather, and, to add to this, it’s also been a place where states have really left their mark in
demonstrating their support. So, for those states, and when I talk about pro-refugee legislation
at the state level, I’m often talking about state funding for refugee support programs
or other forms of support to assist with the successful integration and assimilation of refugees. And California has been a national leader in dedicating state funds for refugee resettlement
programs and other forms of support for vulnerable populations. So it’s another place where states have really sought to demonstrate their difference with the
direction of federal policy. And these constituencies that we’ve built and need to strengthen more, are gonna be such important partners as we combat this new executive order and all the threats it represents. – Well, that’s time. I think you know how hard it’s been for me to get these four panelists to speak up. (audience laughs) They’re real wallflowers,
they don’t have a lot to say. No, they’re obviously
very talented advocates, and you can see why I admire them so much. Please join me in thanking our panel. (everyone applauding) – So my name is Shaun Casey, I’m the Director of the Berkley Center for Religion Peace and World Affairs, one of the cosponsoring institutions here. Now the program says I have
half an hour to shut this down. Let me allay your fears, I’m
gonna take about 30 seconds. But I just think that this
last panel is symptomatic of really the amazing quality of voices we’ve been able
to bring together today. And I think this is a fitting capstone to the 18 month collaboration that Berkley and ISIM have had together in this space of looking at refugee programs and refugee policy. I wanna run through a very quick list of people to say thank you to. Without the collaboration and support of many different entities
here at Georgetown, this would have not been possible. First of all, I wanna
thank the Board of Regents, and particularly the Global Subcommittee. Kojo Mills has been with us, I don’t know if he’s still here or not,
he’s with us most of the day. Phil and Elena Fletcher, we’re so glad that you could be here, and again, it was the wisdom and the
support of the regents to fund this collaborative initiative, and without their support
we would have never been able to conceive of
this and to pull it off. So again, thank you so
much for your support. In many ways I think this
collaboration epitomizes the genius of Georgetown University. In a lot of other universities
religion and policy people can never get together to collaborate, it would never make any sense. But in this unique spot
in the nation’s capitol, we serve and work and are allied with a university that understands what collaboration is about and what interdisciplinary
research and studies can do to increase knowledge. So again, thank you on behalf of ISIM, on behalf of the Berkley Center
for the regents’ support. We indeed have great
leaders at this university. Secondly I wanna say thank you to ISIM, to Katharine Donato and Beth Ferris for your collaboration and partnership over the last 18 months. We really have done a remarkable
body of work together. And we’ve got it on our
websites at both institutions, so if you’re interested
in drilling down deeper and haven’t been able to come
to all of our convenings, the resources are available
for you to see what we’ve done. I think if there’s a conclusion here, is that we have more work to do. There’s no end to the
research and collaboration and student initiatives that
we’ve sampled and modeled. We can certainly continue to do this in the future and I’m quite
confident we will do that. I wanna thank the Berkley
staff on the logistic side, Ruth Gopin, who is our event
director and project manager, Claudia Winkler, who I
think has already left, who’s our associate director, thank you for your yeoman’s work. It’s been an amazing event today, and it would not have
happened without you. The com team, Amy Vander Vliet,
who’s been live tweeting. You don’t like the tweets,
blame her, don’t blame me. But, no, it’s been fine, it’s been good. Michael Kessler, our managing
director was here earlier. Shimeng Tong and the AV team, thank for for what you have done. I also want to say thanks to the panelists and the moderators. I think the intellectual depth and breadth and the synergy across the experts in the field of both religious studies and in immigration studies, but also the practitioners we’ve had here. There’s an alchemy in this kind
of room when we do it right. And I think this last panel, in particular was absolutely brilliant. We had practitioners, we have organizers, we had service providers
who have done amazing work for justice and against injustice. And your work is not over,
as we saw in that last panel. We do find ourselves in very, very vexed
times here politically, both domestically and globally. But thank you to all the
panelists and all the moderators. I think in my three years here, I don’t remember a day’s events where the quality was as
high as what we’ve had today. So, again, from my deepest heart, thank you all for your contributions. The mission statement
of the Berkley Center I think in many ways says a
lot about Georgetown University and about what we’ve been
trying to do in this space. So let me just read that to you briefly. Took us about eight years to
come up with this so I try to read it every time I have
a chance: The Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs seeks a more just and peaceful world by deepening knowledge
and solving problems at the intersection of
religion and global affairs through research, teaching,
and engaging multiple publics. The key to our DNA is collaboration. And what made this event successful, and what I think has made
our 18 months successful, is our ability to collaborate, both within the university,
across Washington DC, and indeed with global entities, people who share our passion
for pursuing justice, particularly in this vexed space of people who’ve been forced to migrate from their home as a result of some form of violence or persecution. The last thing I will say is we have food. (audience laughs) So please join me again
in thanking everybody who participated and
then we can be dismissed to the refreshments. Thank you so much again. (everyone applauding)

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

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