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Keeping Our Door Open: A Multi-Dimensional Approach to Regugee Resentlement Symposium

August 2018 - October 2018

Keeping Our Door Open: A Multi-Dimensional Approach to Refugee Resettlement Symposium is a collaboration between Jewish Family Services of Washtenaw County and the University of Michigan School of Social Work, planned to be held in October, 2018. The two-day symposium will consider the most significant aspects in the present international and domestic refugee system with four tracks: 1) Impact and Integration; 2) Transformative Practice; 3) Health and Wellness; and 4) Policy and Advocacy. The symposium will include presentations by academic experts, policy-makers, nonprofit social services professionals, and government officials to analyze the limitations in the present refugee system and discuss ways of overcoming these constraints. The objectives of the symposium are twofold: 1) To promote ongoing networking, knowledge-exchange, strategizing and collaboration among stakeholders committed to the refugee population; and 2) To enhance efforts to educate and engage the public, in order to energize support for policies respecting the rights and multi-faceted challenges of refugees. Since the new Administration took office in January, 2017, the number of Muslim refugees who have been admitted to the United States has fallen by 91%. Visas issued to immigrants from majority-Muslim countries have declined by 26%, with temporary visas falling by about a third. Last fall, the Administration slashed the refugee cap to its lowest level in more than three decades—45,000. At the current pace, the government is expected to resettle fewer than half that number. In addition to the much lower cap, admissions have been driven down by other administrative policy changes, including enhanced screening procedures and partial bans on refugees from nations the administration designated “high-risk”, the most recent of which was lifted in January. Michigan had one of the largest drop-off rates among the states. In 2017, Michigan accepted 4,986 and in 2018, 925 refugees (81 percent fewer). This timely conference we propose is motivated by the complexity of this ongoing crisis, but also, focuses on the challenges and consequences, by considering perspectives from social work, sociology, political science, law and medicine. It is an interdisciplinary, multi-dimensional approach that will bring different thematic concerns to the table, allowing discussions on the processes that unravel before, during and in the aftermath of crisis situations. Integrating these various perspectives serves the purpose of identifying the different moving parts of the puzzle of the current refugee crisis in all its complexity, and starting a discussion on reasonable solutions.

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