Three Middlebury Institute faculty members, Tsuneo Akaha, William Arrocha and Edgard Coly, hosted a multilayered community conversation “Refugees and Migrants in Europe and the U.S.: Protecting the Right to Move,” on Thursday, March 10th. They shared their extensive experience researching issues related to migration and refugees in different parts of the world, along with prominent local immigration lawyer Patricia Adura-Miranda, and Abdel Seck, co-founder and operations manager of Community One World Enterprise and board president of the Islamic Society of Monterey County.
The panel began by a discussion of the underlying issues of the current crises, how the international community has responded so far and how challenges differ between nations. Professor Arrocha said it was very important for countries to treat refugees with respect, and not to violate their human rights. International organizations have limited power in these situations as they most often involve the internal affairs of sovereign nations.
The path many refugees and migrants are currently taking through Libya to Italy opened up after the Gaddafi regime collapsed, professor Coly explained, because when the former dictator was killed, the agreements he had made with his closest European neighbors to control the flow of migrants died with him.
Patricia Adura-Miranda spoke about the legal issues concerning many refugees and migrants from Central America and shared her views on why we should all care about the refugees. She described the extreme violence many people are fleeing from as they seek refuge in the United States. From a legal perspective, she said, there are laws to protect refugees in the U.S., but these laws are in her opinion not adequately serving to support the refugee flow we are seeing now.
Abdel Seck said terrorist groups have in many ways hijacked the Islamic religion, a religion that “in fact prohibits both suicides and killings.” He shared that it makes him very sad when politicians and other citizens in this country publicly condemn the whole Islamic community.
Members of the audience were invited to join the conversation and asked among other things how they could make a difference. The advice: Write and call to politicians – even the White House!