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Is our humanitarian tradition under threat? U.S. refugee and asylum policy in the 21st century.

Thursday, April 18, 2019 at 10:30am to 11:30am

Boyce Thompson Institute, Auditorium

Since 1948, the U.S. federal government has recognized that refugees are a distinct immigrant group that must be prioritized for admission. Between 1948 and 1956, over 600,000 south, central, and eastern European refugees immigrated to the United States in order to assist Europe’s post-war recovery.  As the Cold War evolved, policymakers deemed it in the national interest to accommodate those displaced by the expansion of communism, and over two million more refugees were admitted to the United States, the majority from the Soviet Union, Vietnam, and Cuba. For half a century, the Cold War provided the ideological frame that shaped American definitions of--and policies toward-- refugees and asylum-seekers.

The end of the Cold War has posed numerous humanitarian and political challenges for the United States.  Millions of people have been displaced from their homes, left stateless, or forced to cross international borders, and less than 1 percent are ever resettled in wealthy economies like the United States. In the post-Cold War and post 9-11 era, foreign policy interests continue to influence refugee policy but we also see a greater cast of actors shaping the debate on refuge and asylum, and more specifically, who is admitted to the US.  Consequently, today’s refugees and asylum seekers receive protection on a much wider range of religious, political, social, and gender-related grounds.

 This presentation will offer a very brief history of U.S. refugee and asylum policy, but we will also give particular attention to the new challenges of the 21st century. (come anytime after 10am for refreshments)

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CAPE: Cornell Association of Professors Emeriti


cascal, LSPCAL, amstcal, CUHistory

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CynthiaAnne Robinson

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María Cristina García, Ph.D.

Speaker Affiliation

Department of History and the Latina/o Studies

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