Alumni Panel Event To Focus On Immigration, Anti-Immigrant Policy
As immigrants and immigration have become the fodder for electoral battles again this season, a distinguished panel of Hampshire College alumni will look back at two decades of anti-immigrant policy at an event open to the public on campus this month. The panelists work on the front lines investigating and challenging the criminalization of immigrants in the United States.
On Wednesday, March 23, at 7 p.m. in Franklin Patterson Hall’s West Lecture Hall, three alums and a current student will participate in From Home Raids to Private Prisons: Where We Go from Here. Panelists will be Genia Blaser 01F, a staff attorney for the Immigrant Defense Project; Yasmine Chahkar Farhang 03F, an immigration attorney at Make the Road NY; Gustavo Madrigal Piña 12F, a longtime undocumented activist and organizer for migrant justice; and Seth Freed Wessler 03F, a journalist and Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism (bios below.)
“Immigration and immigrants have become readily available political footballs, with liberals and conservatives alike backing local, state, and federal policies that criminalize non-citizens of color, challenge standards of fairness, and rupture communities,” says panel organizer, Wilson Valentín-Escobar, associate professor of American studies and sociology. “Our panel will take a hard look at the evolving dynamics and on-the-ground realities of anti-immigrant policy.”
The event is co-sponsored by Hampshire’s Latinx/@ and Latin American Studies Program, the School of Critical Social Inquiry, Alumni and Family Relations, and the Office for Diversity and Multicultural Education.
ABOUT THE PANELISTS
Genia Blaser is a staff attorney at the Immigrant Defense Project (IDP) where she works as part of the Padilla Support Center, providing technical support to criminal trial level, appellate, and family court attorneys on immigration matters. She came to IDP from The Bronx Defenders, where she advised criminal and family defense attorneys of the immigration consequences of contact with criminal justice and child welfare systems, and represented noncitizens in removal proceedings and in applying for affirmative benefits. Genia has also worked with other local and international organizations including the Legal Aid Society, the Pro Se Litigation Office of the United States District Court, Southern District of New York, Asylum Access Ecuador, and Sanctuary for Families. Genia received her law degree from Northeastern University School of Law and holds an undergraduate degree from Hampshire College.
Yasmine Chahkar Farhang is an immigration attorney at Make the Road NY, a membership-led community organization based in five low-income immigrant, Latinx/@ and working class communities in New York that builds power to achieve dignity and justice through community organizing, policy innovation, education, and survival services. She represents immigrant youth and adults in affirmative applications as well as in removal proceedings, both in immigration court and family court, and provides policy and organizing support to MRNY's LGBTQ justice projects. Yasmine is a native New Yorker and proud alum of Hampshire College, and of CUNY law school, the only public, public-interest law school in New York.
Gustavo Madrigal Piña is a long-time undocumented activist and organizer for migrant justice with roots in the U.S. South. Now a student at Hampshire College, Gustavo uses his privileged position to raise awareness of the plight of immigrants and help fund work at the grassroots level through and as a co-founder of the Hampshire College Immigrant Solidarity Network. Upon graduating from Hampshire, he hopes to move to New York and pursue a law degree.
Seth Freed Wessler is a journalist in New York and a Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism. He reports for The Investigative Fund and was previously a staff reporter for NBCNews.com and Colorlines.com, and a visiting scholar at NYU’s Carter Journalism Institute. In 2014-2015, Seth received a Soros Justice Media Fellowship and has reported for ProPublica, The Nation, This American Life, Reveal, Elle Magazine and many other outlets. Seth won a Hillman Prize for an investigation on children and deportation and was the recipient of the NYU Reporting Award for an investigation about mental health. You can read some of his work at www.sethwessler.com
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