Title

Recognizing Refugees Conference

Event Start DateWednesday, December 10, 2014 – Friday, December 12, 2014
Message

Recognizing Refugees from Mexico and Central America

As all of you know, there’s a smoldering refugee crisis in Mexico and Central America. The number of people reaching the United States ebbs and flows. But, levels of internal displacement, violence, and insecurity remain extremely high. Relatively few of those who have fled have received refugee status or related protections, and the horrific exploitation of migrants and refugees in transit continues unabated. There’s widespread agreement on the nature of the violence and the need to address it from the bottom up. But, policy makers across the region seem more concerned with managing the visibility of the problem than addressing its underlying causes. As a result, the next crisis lurks around the corner.

The Trans-Border Institute invites leading scholars, immigration lawyers, asylees, and diplomats from the United States, Mexico, and Central America to participate in a conference around the following questions:

• How is the current refugee crisis in the region related to past refugee crises and other policies related to the legacy of civil war and authoritarianism in the region? How should this affect our policy response to the present crisis?

• What factors account for the relatively low grant rate for asylum seekers from Mexico and Central America in the United States, and how might we improve it?

• For those ineligible or unable to meet the high evidentiary standards for asylum, what alternative protections might we provide for migrants arriving, in transit, or upon repatriation at the regional, national, and local levels?

• What policies have proved the most effective at reducing the violence and insecurity that forces people to flee, and how can we replicate and scale them up locally, nationally, and regionally?

Message Remainder

December 10

December 10
TimeEvent
1:30 p.m. - 3 p.m.
KIPJ G Terrace
Welcome Lunch
3:30 p.m. - 5 p.m.
KIPJ Boardroom
Roundtable Discussion ‘It Was the State,’ But, What is the State?: Putting Contemporary Violence into Context

"It Was the State" has been the clarion call of protest against corruption and violence in Mexico, since the disappearance of the 43 students from Ayotzinapá, Guerrero. The connection between local officials and drug traffickers and the responsibility of the government to bring justice are plain enough. But, the manifestations of “the state” and the logic of violence in the present conflict defy conventional definitions of corruption or contract enforcement in a black market. This panel will explore what we can do to better disaggregate the actors most responsible, and the strategies which will likely prove the most effective in mitigating violence, bringing justice to victims and survivors, and preventing mass displacement.

Featuring: Dr. Douglas Carranza, CSU Northridge; Octavio Rodríguez, Justice in Mexico Project; Gema Santamaría, Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, UCSD; Dr. Michael Lettieri, Lecturer, USD

5:30 p.m.
La Casa de la Paz
Private Reception
7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Peace and Justice Theatre

Keynote Lecture: (public event)

New Circumstances, Old Problems
What would Hannah Arendt say – Can human rights really protect migrants and refugees?

Susan Gzesh, Executive Director, Pozen Family Center for Human Rights
Senior Lecturer in the College, The University of Chicago

Register 

8:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
KIPJ Rotunda
Public Reception

December 11

 
TimeEvent
8:30 a.m. - 9 a.m.
KIPJ Boardroom
Coffee and Continental Breakfast
9 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.
KIPJ Boardroom
Panel #1 – Blaming the Victims: The Politics of Crisis on Regional Borders

When President Obama declared a "humanitarian crisis" on the border last summer, global attention turned to the plight of thousands of unaccompanied immigrant children from Central America, seeking safety in the United States. Lost in the din of emergency relief and immigration politics was the fact that thousands of adults arrived from the same places, their arrival cut against the general downward trend in unauthorized migration, and most of the aggressive policy responses had been tried and failed during the last Central American refugee crisis, in the 1980s. How is the current refugee crisis in the region related to past refugee crises and other policies stemming from civil war, foreign intervention, and authoritarianism? How should this affect our policy response right now?

Featuring: Susan Gzesh, Executive Director, Human Rights Program, The University of Chicago (Chicago, IL); Dr. Olivia Ruiz, Colegio de la Frontera Norte (Tijuana, B.C.); Dr. David Pedersen, Department of Anthropology, UCSD; Dr. Carol Girón Solórzano, Asociación de Misioneros de San Carlos Scalabrinianos “Humilitas”

10:30 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.
KIPJ Boardroom
Coffee Break
10:45 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
KIPJ Boardroom
Panel #2 – Whose Persecution is Legitimate? The Denial of Asylum Seekers from Mexico and Central America

Mexico and Central America are in the grips of a suffocating civil conflict in which local communities have been overtaken by organized crime, impunity has become the norm rather than the exception, and spectacular violence has terrorized civil society. Journalists, human rights activists, and student protestors have been targeted for threats, torture, and execution; protestors have been kidnapped and disappeared; and honest officials have been threatened and killed for doing their jobs. Tens of thousands have fled, seeking safety in the United States and elsewhere. And yet, the grant rate for asylum seekers remains abysmally low – 4.7% in 2014, a level that matches the worst periods of the Central American civil wars of the 1980s. What factors account for the relatively low grant rate for asylum seekers from Mexico and Central America in the United States, and how might we improve it?

Featuring: Dr. Ariadna Estévez, Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Méxcio; Dr. Everard Meade, Director, Trans-Border Institute

12:30 p.m. - 1:45 p.m.
KIPJ Boardroom
Buffet Lunch
2 p.m. - 4 p.m.
KIPJ Boardroom
Panel #3 – Confronting a Broken Mirror: The Refugee Experience in First-Person

Edward Said once wrote: “exile is strangely compelling to think about but terrible to experience. It is the unhealable rift forced between a human being and a native place, between the self and its true home: its essential sadness can never be surmounted.” What is it like to be a refugee from a place as familiar and connected to the United States as Mexico or El Salvador? How does receiving asylum or immigration status affect this experience or the perception of subsequent crises? What can asylees and refugees teach us about the current regional crisis and the policy response to it?

Featuring: a series of individuals from Mexico and Central America who have received political asylum in the United States, relating their experiences in their own words. *In the interest of protecting their privacy, we are withholding their names.

4 p.m. - 4:15 p.m.
KIPJ Boardroom
Coffee Break
4:15 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
KIPJ Boardroom
Discussion and Conclusions
6:30 p.m. - 8 p.m.
KIPJ G Terrace
Dinner: Red Oven Wood-Fired Pizza Truck

December 12

 
TimeEvent
8:30 a.m. - 9 a.m.
KIPJ Boardroom
Coffee and Continental Breakfast
9 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.
KIPJ Room G
Panel #4 – Reframing Persecution: Legal Challenges and Strategies for Representing Asylum Seekers from Mexico and Central America

Given the extremely low grant rate for asylum seekers from Mexico and Central America, what are the biggest challenges to effectively representing asylum seekers from these countries in their legal proceedings? Beyond the overall rant rate, where do we see policy prerogatives and prejudices creeping into the adjudication of cases? For those ineligible or unable to meet the high evidentiary standards for asylum, what alternative protections during the arrival, transit, and/or repatriation of migrants should be implemented at the regional, national, and local levels?

Featuring attorneys and representatives from: Mexicanos en Exilio (El Paso, TX); National Immigrant Justice Center (Chicago, IL); The Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Center (Florence, AZ); The ABA’s South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (Harlingen, TX); and Casa Cornelia Law Center (San Diego, CA).

10:30 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.
KIPJ Room G
Coffee Break
10:45 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
KIPJ Boardroom
Panel #5 – Making Diplomacy Work: Multi-Lateral Solutions to a Regional Refugee Crisis
12:30 p.m. - 1:45 p.m.
KIPJ Garden of Peace
Picnic Lunch
2 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
KIPJ Boardroom
Panel #6 – Creating Sustainable Alternatives: Peacebuilding on the Ground

Immigration status and humanitarian succor are important stopgaps to local conflicts and persecution, not permanent solutions. What policies have proved the most effective at reducing the violence and insecurity that force people to flee, and how can we replicate and scale them up locally, nationally, and regionally? Why have locally successful programs, such as truces between street gangs not been expanded or replicated at the national and regional levels?

Featuring: Alex Sánchez, Executive Director, Homies Unidos (Los Angeles, CA); Dr. Topher McDougal, Kroc School of Peace Studies; Steve Vigil, UN Peacekeeper; Ana Isabel García, Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, UCSD

3:30 p.m. - 3:45 p.m.
KIPJ Boardroom
Coffee Break
3:45 p.m. - 5:15 p.m.
KIPJ Boardroom
Discussion and Conclusions
6 p.m. - 8 p.m.
La Gran Terraza
Dinner

Public Events

December 10
TimeEvent
7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Peace and Justice Theatre
Distinguished Lecture:
Mauricio Farah Gebara, Secretary General of the Chamber of Deputies, former Inspector General of the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), and author of: Migración y Derechos Humanos en México (Porrúa, 2014); No más víctimas inocentes: los derechos humanos y la paz (Porrúa: 2013); and Cuando la vida está en otra parte. La migración indocumentada en México y Estados Unidos (Porrúa, 2012).
December 12
TimeEvent
2 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
KIPJ Boardroom
Panel #6 – Creating Sustainable Alternatives: Peacebuilding on the Ground

Immigration status and humanitarian succor are important stopgaps to local conflicts and persecution, not permanent solutions. What policies have proved the most effective at reducing the violence and insecurity that force people to flee, and how can we replicate and scale them up locally, nationally, and regionally? Why have locally successful programs, such as truces between street gangs not been expanded or replicated at the national and regional levels?

Featuring: Alex Sánchez, Executive Director, Homies Unidos (Los Angeles, CA); Dr. Topher McDougal, Kroc School of Peace Studies; Steve Vigil, UN Peacekeeper; Ana Isabel García, Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, UCSD

ContactMartha Garcia | marthagarcia@sandiego.edu | (619) 260-4148
Web Address