The University of the Philippines Center for Integrative and Development Studies (UP CIDS) Program on Social and Political Change (PSPC), together with the UP Department of Political Science, co-organized back-to-back public lectures discussing the condition of refugees and immigrants in the United States (US) last 7 June 2018 at Palma Hall, UP Diliman.
The first lecture was given by Dr. Claire Angelique Nolasco, an Associate Professor of Criminology at the Texas A&M University in San Antonio, Texas, entitled “Suffer the Little Children to Come: Legal Rights of Unaccompanied Alien Children Under United States Federal Court Jurisprudence.” Dr. Nolasco’s lecture looked into the legal rights granted to unaccompanied alien children (UAC) who enter the United States as interpreted and expanded by the federal court throughout the years.
Dr. Nolasco’s lecture was followed by an open forum with students and faculty of the UP Department of Political Science. Questions and concerns were raised regarding the exploitation of the vulnerability of the UAC and the violation of their rights, especially under the Trump administration. Indeed, there are instances where the rights of these children were violated by US immigration agencies and officers which may have been the result of the ambiguity of the law or xenophobic and racist tendencies of immigration officers.
The second lecture was delivered by Dr. Daniel Braaten who is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the Texas Lutheran University. The title of his lecture was “You Don’t Have to Live Like a Refugee: The Politics of Refugee Resettlement in the United States,” which investigates patterns of refugee resettlement in the United States. In his study, Dr. Braaten found that a state’s political culture had a strong impact on the number of refugees that resettles there. It is interesting to note that, in his findings, the more conservative a state is, the more open they are to refugees. The economic variables of a state (wages, employment opportunities, housing, quality of life, and poverty rate) were also statistically significant in predicting the openness of a state to refugees.
As the world faces a global refugee crisis and political debates over levels of immigration and immigration policy take place, especially in today’s global political climate, it is important to have discussions on this issue. These individuals flee their home countries due to political unrest, extreme violence or poverty, or persecution, and it is imperative that they are afforded with due process of the law and basic human rights.