Every day in the news, on social media, around the dinner table, and in presidential debates we learn more and more about the immense challenges facing immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in our own communities and around the world.
Who are the people seeking safety and a new life? What challenges do they face? What are the public policy issues? How are the challenges and the policy issues being addressed right now? Are there opportunities for you, your business, your community to be positively engaged?
Three experts on immigration, refugees, and asylum seekers discuss people and policy, challenges and answers.
(Photo: Kate Ausburn/Flickr)
BIO: Eva Millona
Eva A. Millona, is Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), the state's largest organization representing the foreign born, and co-chair of the National Partnership for New Americans, the lead national organization focusing on immigrant integration. Ms. Millona directed the refugee resettlement program in Central Massachusetts. In her native Albania, she practiced civil and criminal law, serving on Tirana's District Court from 1989 - 1992, when she was the nation's youngest district judge ever appointed. Ms. Millona is the co-chair of the Governor's Advisory Council for Refugees and Immigrants and serves on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. In 2010, she co-chaired the nation's largest immigrant integration conference, which MIRA hosted in Boston. She is the recipient of over a dozen major awards, including the prestigious 2009 USCIS Outstanding American by Choice Award, the 2010 Wainwright Bank Social Justice Award, and the 2011 and 2012 Powermeter Award, presented to the most influential people for Latinos in Massachusetts.
BIO: Alejandra St. Guillen
Alejandra St. Guillen was appointed by Mayor Martin J. Walsh in 2014 as the Director of the Mayor's Office of New Bostonians with the mandate to strengthen the ability of residents from diverse cultural and linguistic communities to fully participate in the social, economic, cultural and civic life of the city. During her tenure thus far, Alejandra has leveraged public-private partnerships to expand staff capacity and launch new initiatives, such as the Immigrant Integration & Empowerment Project, as well as the New American Corners. Prior to her appointment, Alejandra served as the Executive Director of ¿Oiste?, Latino Civic and Political Organization. In this role, she collaborated with state legislators and other governmental officials in the development and promotion of Public Policy initiatives that have directly impacted the Latino community in Massachusetts, that include Education Reform, Economic Justice Policy and Electoral Reform. Alejandra has demonstrated a strong commitment to social justice, and has worked tirelessly as an educator, community organizer, and non-profit leader.
BIO: Anita P. Sharma
Anita P. Sharma, Esq., is the Executive Director of the PAIR Project. She serves as co-chair of the Liaison Committee on Asylum for the New England Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and is a steering committee member of the Boston Bar Association's (BBA) Delivery of Legal Services Section. She co-chaired the BBA's Immigration Section and is currently a steering committee member. Anita received the Unsung Heroine of Massachusetts Award from the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women, and BBA's John G. Brooks Public Service Award for outstanding representation of asylum-seekers and mentorship to hundreds of pro bono attorneys. PAIR, the Political Asylum/Immigration Representation Project (PAIR) is a nationally recognized pro bono model that works to secure safety and freedom for asylum-seekers who have fled from persecution throughout the world and to promote the rights of immigrants unjustly detained. PAIR provides hope and a new beginning to asylum-seekers, torture survivors and immigration detainees.