Monday, June 15, 2009

Symposium to examine immigration policy and human rights

“Immigration Policy and Human Rights” symposium
8 a.m. June 17
Room 460/465 University Center

Georgia State University’s Center for Human Rights and Democracy will host a symposium addressing immigration policies and the protection of human rights in the United States and abroad at 8 a.m. June 17 in room 460 of the University Center.

“Immigration policy ranks atop the challenges facing many economically advanced democratic states,” said William Downs, co-director of the Center for Human Rights and Democracy. “The lowering of barriers to the free movement of peoples has host country implications for national security, employment, housing, education and health care. Governments at all levels now confront these challenges in environments of severe budgetary contraction and voter suspicion.”

More than 15 panelists will address political, economic, social and legal issues related to immigration policy, as well as promising policy alternatives. The symposium also will acknowledge the transition from the Bush to the Obama Administration and the recent 60-year anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Deepa Iyer, executive director of South Asian Americans Leading Together, will be the keynote speaker discussing “Charting a Path Forward—The Post 9/11 Backlash Against Immigrants and Human Rights Responses.” Iyer is an immigrant who moved to the United States from India when she was twelve years old. Iyer served as a trial attorney at the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice where she worked closely on initiatives to address post 9/11 backlash discrimination. She also was the executive producer of a documentary about hate crimes in the post 9/11 environment.

“The post 9/11 atmosphere in America and Europe means renewed difficulties in protecting the fundamental rights of immigrants,” Downs said. “Democracies struggle to address the intolerance that often confronts immigrants, and issues of detention, denial of legal due process, deportation and hate crimes persist.”

Adelina Nicholls, of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, and Azadeh Shahshahani, of ACLU of Georgia are among the panelists who will examine “Immigration as a Human Rights Issue.” Other panel topics during the symposium include, “Immigration and Belonging: Divergent Perspectives on Latinos and Human Rights in the United States”; “Immigration Detention”; and “Citizenship and Human Rights Challenges in Europe.”

“Immigrants and refugees seeking a better life and fleeing poverty, hunger, civil war and persecution are among society’s most vulnerable groups,” Downs said. “Research endeavors that explain immigration trends, critically evaluate alternatives for policy reform, and compare the effectiveness of efforts to defend immigrants’ human rights are both timely and necessary.”

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