Expert Alert

Immigration policy, history, impact

UMN Immigration Experts

As the March 5 deadline for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program looms, the U.S. Congress continues to debate immigration policy with still no clear path to a solution.

University of Minnesota experts Marissa Hill-Dongre, Erika Lee and Deepinder Mayell bring context to the debate and discuss the impact on those implicated in the policies, including Dreamers whose status depends on Congress’ actions.

Marissa Hill-Dongre

“Students in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program tell me they are feeling hopelessness and fear as the March 5 deadline looms before them. They have put so much work into achieving their education. If they lose their work permits, the most immediate fear is they cannot continue to pay for their tuition. If they can complete their degrees, they will have an excellent education and training, but not be able to work in the country they call home.”

Marissa Hill-Dongre leads the Immigration Response Team (IRT) at the University of Minnesota. The IRT was created to assist students, staff and faculty navigate rapidly changing immigration policies and enforcement, including the travel ban, extreme vetting and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Marissa meets with students, staff and faculty to provide information, support and resources, and she advises University leaders on the impact of immigration policy changes.

Contact Information:
Marissa Hill-Dongre, J.D.
Director, Immigration Response Team
[email protected]

Erika Lee

"Our immigration history makes clear that the U.S. has always been divided about immigration. From the colonial era to the present, we have let generations of immigrants into the country, but we have also targeted others as threats to our economy, culture and national security. The current debate over immigration is the latest chapter in both a long and recent history of American immigration. But with a divided Congress and a president who is working to enact campaign pledges of building a border wall, enacting deportations and banning immigration from specific countries, the stakes have never been higher than they are today."

Erika Lee is an internationally recognized American historian and expert on migration, race and ethnicity. She is the author of three award-winning books on U.S. immigration and Asian American history, most recently The Making of Asian America: A History, and is currently writing a history of xenophobia in the United States. Lee is director of the Immigration Research History Center.

*Note that Dr. Lee is available February 12 and 13, but inaccessible from February 14 through 24.

Contact Information:
Erika Lee, Ph.D.
Director of the Immigration History Research Center
[email protected]

Deepinder Mayell

“The broad stroke condemnation of immigrants as criminals is a specific tactic to build support for increasingly aggressive enforcement and limits on immigration as well as refugees. Particularly in immigration enforcement, this rhetoric serves as a sort of cover for targeting immigrants without a criminal record.

“Two disturbing trends we’re seeing: First, is the increase in removing people to countries that are not safe, like Iraq, Somalia and Cambodia. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has also targeted institutions like hospitals and civil courts. That targeting undermines those institutions and pushes people further into the shadows.

“The trends we see in the United States are happening around the world. Terrorism is often conflated with immigration and there has been an increasing militarization of borders. But the things that bring people to the United States - economic opportunity, family – those still exist at the same time the path to achieve some kind of status becomes more and more narrow.”

Deepinder Mayell engages law students and nonprofit partners to teach noncitizens about their legal rights and train lawyers in providing pro bono representation to immigrants. The James H. Binger Center for New Americans brings law students, Minnesota law firms and nonprofits together to provide urgently needed legal services to immigrants and refugees, and pursues litigation to improve immigration.

Contact Information:
Deepinder Mayell, J.D.
Director for Education and Outreach, James H. Binger Center for New Americans, and Lecturer in Law
[email protected]


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