November 3, 2017

Embracing Diversity: Immigration & Refugee Issues

Notre Dame of Maryland University's Mission includes building inclusive communities, engaging in service to others, and promoting social responsibility. As part of that effort, NDMU presents “Embracing Diversity: Immigration & Refugee Issues” featuring Donald Kerwin, the Executive Director of the Center for Migration Studies of New York.

Donald Kerwin pictureNotre Dame of Maryland University (NDMU) presents “Embracing Diversity: Immigration & Refugee Issues” featuring Donald Kerwin, the Executive Director of the Center for Migration Studies of New York.

“Immigration, issues around immigration and the impact it has on the individual are important topics for our community to present and to discuss,” says Kelly Hoover, associate vice president for student life and dean of students. “We hope Mr. Kerwin’s presentation will educate the community about the problems immigrants and refugees face and will offer collaborative ways to help those populations who are experiencing intense discrimination and hostility.”

The Center for Migration Studies of New York is a “think tank” and educational institute that studies international migration, the relationship between immigrants and their receiving communities, and the public policies that protect the rights of migrants, refugees, and newcomers. Mr. Kerwin will discuss topics related to migration and refugee protection, topics that are close to the NDMU community and because of the most recent action taken on the federal government level concerning the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

For NDMU students like Katherine Martínez, a sophomore English and Spanish double major, the recent news about DACA was affecting. “I was shocked by the number of students who expressed their desire to help, but had no idea what the program [DACA] was about or that it even existed,” she explains. In cases like this, Martínez values NDMU’s efforts at educating the community about these issues. “Notre Dame has acknowledged its immigrant community by incorporating various workshops on immigration and offering diverse resources—they’re not only for DACA students, but also for first-generation Americans and even undocumented students” she says.

As an institution with a goal to build inclusive communities, engage in service to others, and promote social responsibility, Notre Dame advocates for immigrant and refugee students who are affected by these decisions. This is evident not only in official messages from President Yam, but also in the work of other students and staff members in the community.

For instance, Lindsey Webb, a senior business major, believes that student leaders like herself can be a voice for Dreamers, immigrants, and refugee students in the community. “One of the ways is to be an advocate for the Dream Act by contacting respective Congress representatives. I’d like to emphasize that on top of activism, it is important for student leaders to make Dreamers, immigrants, and refugee students feel that they are safe with us and welcomed in our Notre Dame community,” Webb expresses.

Mary Fitzgerald, SSND, a faculty professor in the School of Education, addresses issues related to immigrant and refugee students in the education classes she teaches. “My students are deeply concerned about their children and care deeply,” she explains. “It is critical that we, as educators, use the muscle we have to do something.”

But for those who are not sure where to begin, going to the event could be a first step. “In order to educate others, we must first immerse ourselves in the topic,” Martínez notes. Dr. Brandy Garlic, the Associate Dean for Inclusion and Community Standard encourages everyone to attend. “It’s important to learn what is going on in society right now, who is affected by the decisions that have been made, and most importantly, what we can do to help. Embracing diversity is not just a charge for few—it should be a goal for all,” she says.

The presentation is free and open the public and will be held in NDMU’s LeClerc Auditorium on November 9 at 7:00 p.m.​​