Today more than 70 million people across the globe are fleeing violence, extreme poverty, and persecution—the highest in recorded history. Of those, 25 million are refugees, half of whom are children. For Americans, this global migration crisis is most visible in Central America and on our southern border.
The Trump administration has separated families and proposed new restrictions on asylum seekers, and it is considering further reductions in the number of refugees admitted to the United States. In contrast, some politicians are proposing repealing criminal sanctions for entering the United States illegally and including undocumented people in universal health care. Our country is polarized and Congress is paralyzed by disputes on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), comprehensive immigration reform, and a border wall.
In the midst of this global migration crisis and policy chaos, the University of Notre Dame and Georgetown University share a Catholic commitment to welcome the stranger and uphold the dignity of immigrants and refugees. It is through this lens that the two universities invited a rigorous examination and thoughtful dialogue regarding the U.S. response to a worldwide surge of forcibly displaced people.
This Public Dialogue and Latino Leader Gathering did not simply explore the current tragedy or repeat partisan talking points, but rather helped us understand this moment and examine what needs to be done. It brought together several experienced public policy and community leaders with differing perspectives for a structured conversation around the following questions:
- What are the moral implications and human costs of specific U.S. action, or inaction, in response to the migration crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border? For children? For our nation?
- How did we get here, and what can be done on refugee policies? On immigration policies?
- How does the situation on the U.S.-Mexico border compare to other parts of the world? How are other countries and regions around the globe addressing the global migration crisis?
- What are the impacts of stalemate as leaders insist on totally conflicting approaches? Can there be compromise or comprehensive reform? What is wise and possible?
- What can Catholic universities, parishes, and individuals do to promote principled and effective paths forward on U.S. immigration and global refugee policies?
This Public Dialogue and Latino Leader Gathering was co-sponsored by the University of Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs and Georgetown University’s Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life.
- Denis McDonough is an executive fellow of the Keough School’s Global Policy Initiative at the University of Notre Dame and the former chief of staff to President Barack Obama.
- Carlos Curbelo is a Republican leader on immigration issues, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Miami, Florida, and was a resident fellow at the Harvard Institute of Politics for the spring 2019 semester.
- Aryah Somers Landsberger is the vice president of programs at Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, an experienced litigator and advocate for unaccompanied minors, and co-author of UNHCR’s “Children on the Run” report on the root causes of migration.
- Mizraim Belman Guerrero (SFS’20) is a DACA recipient, a youth delegate for the Global Compact for Migration with the United Nations in 2018, and a culture and politics major at Georgetown University.
Maura Policelli, executive director of the Keough School of Global Affairs Washington Office, will open the dialogue. John Carr, director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life, will moderate the conversation.