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    10.22.15 Town Hall Meeting Examines Refugee Crisis in Europe
    Town Hall Maryellen Fullerton

    Students, faculty, alumni, and staff gathered in the Student Lounge on Oct. 13 for a Town Hall meeting to explore the legal and policy issues raised by the refugee crisis in Europe and elsewhere.

    In recent months, a rapidly increasing number of refugees and migrants have been coming to nations in the European Union – usually by perilous trips across or through Southeast Europe –and seeking asylum. The crisis has been driven in particular by wars in Syria and Iraq, as well as conflict in Afghanistan, Eritrea, and other nations.

    Professor Beryl Jones-Woodin welcomed the audience and panelists including Professors Julian Arato, Stacy Caplow, Maryellen Fullerton, Dan Smulian, as well as alumna Molly Kammien '15, who had recently returned from Turkey. Professor Fullerton gave a brief presentation.

    “What we see is a crisis of great humanitarian dimension, and of legal dimension,” Professor Fullerton said. “Clearly politics are involved in it, and logistics are involved in it. But the face of the crisis is in individuals – individuals who are fleeing from violence and persecution. What the Europeans and the US are trying to think about is: what to do in the face of such large numbers?”

    In the Q&A that followed with the audience, students addressed a range of issues related to the refugee crisis, including how Europe and United States are dealing with the bureaucratic demands of processing the massive influx of refugees, restrictions on numbers allowed to enter various nations, and what can be learned from past experiences of similar refugee crises. Students and faculty also discussed underlying xenophobic attitudes that hinder refugee assistance, religious conflicts arising in regions where refugees are settling, and the responsibilities of the United States in the current crisis.

    “I think as we view our own streams of asylum here in the US, we also have these examples in the European system, and other international legal systems, that suggest we can really step up to the plate and respond to these kinds of crises,” Professor Fullerton said.