This program took place during the 2019 ABA Midyear Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The United States has served as a beacon of hope and opportunity for migrants around the world for centuries. Why is it that today we find our nation confronting a surge of nationalism and an increase in tragic hate crimes? After the 9/11 attacks, there was an immediate spike in murders and other hate crimes against perceived Middle Easterners. In 2017, the FBI reported 7,175 hate crimes, up from 6,121 the previous year. According to this report, 59.6% of the incidents were based on race/ethnicity/ancestry. In today’s environment of anti-immigrant rhetoric and intensified immigration enforcement, where noncitizens are less likely to report crimes to law enforcement, it is quite likely that the actual number of hate crimes against immigrants and refugees is significantly higher.
What is the cause of this disturbing trend and how have increased nationalism and xenophobia contributed to its evolution? Recently, at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, a lone gunman stormed the building during Shabbat and opened fire, killing 11 congregants. While his intentions were clearly anti-Semitic, he also ranted on social media about Jews helping refugees, specifically HIAS, a global Jewish nonprofit that works to protect refugees and others around the world.
Recognizing this current reality, the panel will share how legal, social and community groups that serve immigrants and refugees, including HIAS, have responded to recent events. They will also discuss what the legal profession can do to reverse this trend of anti-immigrant fervor and return us to a nation that respects differences and engages in productive civil discourse.
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- Mark Hetfield, President and CEO, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)
- Michael Kagan, Joyce Mack Professor of Law, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
- Mayra Salinas-Menjivar, UNLV University Legal Services Fellow, Attorney
- Thomas A. Saenz, President and General Counsel, MALDEF
- ABA Section on Civil Rights and Social Justice
- ABA Commission on Homelessness and Poverty
- ABA Council on Diversity in the Educational Pipeline
- ABA Standing Committee on Public Education