Global Migration Conference 2019

Boston College Law School and Boston College School of Social Work will hold the inaugural Boston College Global Migration Conference: Inclusion and Exclusion on April 11-12, 2019 at the Boston College Law School campus in Newton, MA.

In the United States and around the world, exclusionary politics and policies against migration – and against the inclusion of migrants into many nation states – are on the rise. What can and what should be done?

On April 11 and 12, 2019, the Boston College Global Migration Conference: Inclusion and Exclusion will bring together leading experts – academics, policymakers, activists, refugee rights advocates, and mental health professionals – to address global trends and tensions between inclusion and exclusion.

Join us as we examine various visions and details of global migration policies in this critical moment, with a particular focus on whether current professional legal and social work service models are sufficient, and how, together, we may best understand and protect the rights of non citizens.

CEUs for Social Workers: Participants who register as social workers will be eligible for a total of 9 CEUs for the conference. Each Plenary is 1 CEU; each Concurrent Session is 1.5 CEUs.

The Boston College Global Migration Conference will provide a forum to examine policies, programs, and practices related to immigration in the current geopolitical climate, and consider social, legal, and policy solutions. Registration for this event is now open. 

Lawyers, social workers, policy makers, and community members are encouraged to attend.

General Registration fee: $299 (includes breakfasts, lunches, and onsite parking)

CEUs for Social Workers: Participants who register as social workers will be eligible for a total of 9 CEUs for the conference. Each Plenary is 1 CEU; each Concurrent Session is 1.5 CEUs.

A limited number of seats are available for those who require financial assistance. Please email by March 15, 2019, with a brief statement of need.

Registration deadline: April 5, 2019


All sales are final; no refunds. Registrations may not be transferred to another person or to another course, workshop, or program.


Global Migration Conference: Inclusion and Exclusion
Program Schedule

Concurrent Sessions 1: Thursday, April 11, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

1A: Evolving International Approaches to Migration Control

There are now some 250 million “international migrants” around the world. The majority, mostly workers, travel in a “safe, orderly, and regular manner.” But tens of millions of “irregular migrants” are in flight seeking protection and safety—a “desperation migration” that continues “despite walls, fences, barriers, guards, patrol ships, warnings, and nativist political rhetoric.” (Chamie, 2013, 2016);

Governments respond in widely varying ways. Protective measures are ostensibly designed to deter dangerous migration, to oversee labor systems, and to protect the persecuted and desperate. But many actions are quite the opposite: harsh, punitive, arbitrary, anomalous, discriminatory, and disproportionate systems of exclusion, detention, and deportation.

Migration control calls into question aspects of State sovereignty itself, as illustrated by evolving “Global Compacts” on refugee policy and global migration, Europe’s Frontex agency, an EU “explosion” of bilateral agreements to “return” rejected asylum seekers and irregular migrants (Weber 2015), Australian off-shore detention, Israeli agreements with Uganda and Rwanda to process deported asylum-seekers, bi-lateral “repatriation” agreements, etc. This session will explore these trends.

1B: Admission and Exclusion

This interdisciplinary and international panel focuses on the growing numbers of Central Americans heading to the United States from their countries of origin. Jose Luis Rocha, Nicaraguan sociologist, activist scholar, and journalist with Envío, will initiate our conversation by historically and politically situating the factors pushing a growing and increasingly diverse group of migrants north from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua and the additional pressures facing them due to current US-Mexico relations. Jodi Berger Cardoso will then discuss some of the psychosocial effects of such journeys on unaccompanied youth and children in mixed-status families who are currently creating new communities within US borders. Finally, Denise Gilman will discuss the expansion of immigration, detention, and other exclusionary border policies in an ill-fated effort to deter migration and to prevent entry into the geographical and legal terrain of the United States. Together these scholar advocates offer analyses and actions for resisting US policies and practices that violate international human rights law and the dignity of migrants.

1C: Naturalization: Right, Responsibility, Obligation

Citizenship is a basic element of nation building, identity, and integration. In the U.S., naturalization processing has been extended from six months under President Bush to 13 months under President Trump. What forces and consequences are identifiable and what patterns are precursors to robust economic and civic life of sovereign states? Given the importance of naturalization to civic engagement, especially voting, and to full economic opportunity, what naturalization policies and practices foster the full integration of the foreign-born?

Concurrent Sessions 2: Thursday, April 11, 1:45 PM - 3:15 PM

2A: The Human Rights of Migrants: Current Tensions & Controversies

The basic tension between State sovereignty and human rights is perhaps the most fundamental problem of global migration. As Seyla Benhabib has noted, the “cornerstone of the international order established in the wake of World War II, with the founding of the United Nations (1945) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), is the dual commitment to free and equal state sovereignty and the universality of human rights.” (Benhabib, Cameron, et al. 2013). This panel will explore recent examples of the difficulties of this dual commitment, with a goal of systematic and pragmatic rethinking, such as the protection of women who flee from “domestic violence,” family detention and separation of parents from children, protection of victims of “human trafficking,” and protection of “climate change” refugees. Panelists may also consider recent comprehensive attempts to catalogue the international law rights of migrants in relation to the particular regime of refugee law. 

2B: Rights and Public Benefits

Given diverse welfare regimes around the world and especially in OECD member states, contemporary eligibility and exclusion policy debates and political rhetoric place immigrants of all status in precarious circumstances. From elder services to CHIP to changes in public charge policy, benefit eligibility, utilization, and availability are current issues demanding legal action and social work engagement.  Evident in the U.S. health access and visible in Italian restrictionist efforts, the broad array of public benefits are increasingly politicized and their utilization and associated costs are perceived as a basis for national limited admission policies. An integration framework is seldom a dynamic factor in assessing these policies, yet these same issues are fundamental elements in integration as well as the wellbeing of foreign born residents.

2C: Detention

Immigration Detention, viewed by the U.S. courts as “civil” and therefore not punishment for any crime, looks and feels like punitive detention, yet immigration detainees do not have the procedural protections afforded to those who are detained as part of the criminal process. In the U.S., immigration detainees can languish in jail for years fighting their deportation cases, and the conditions of confinement are worsened when the government uses private prisons to detain migrants. The U.S. maintains the largest immigration detention system in the world, detaining a daily average of 40,500 people in fiscal year 2017 in 205 facilities around the country.

Concurrent Sessions 3: Thursday, April 11, 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

3A: Does Migration Help or Hurt the National Labor Market?

With lively debates about the value of skilled immigrant preferences over family based immigration, research detailing the needs of national economies becomes more central to evidence-based policy making. What are the measurable outcomes from varied levels and types of immigration policy, and what can nations predict based on economic studies of trends?  

3B: Approaching Migrant Communities from Trauma-Informed yet Strengths-Based Approaches

The problem: Too often populations affected by humanitarian crises and forced migration are seen from a deficits perspective. What are innovative ways to both honor and build on the strengths of migrant communities as we interact with them as social work and legal professionals? How can prevention programs and community and family based initiatives promote the human capability of young migrants and refugees? What initiatives and models exist both in terms of policies and programs? What lessons have been learned?

Concurrent Sessions 4: Friday, April 12, 10:45 AM - 12:15 PM

4A: Five Decades of Exclusion: Immigrants and Health Care

In 1971, Sue and McKinney wrote their now classic study that immigrants, primarily from racial and ethnic minority groups, were less likely than U.S.-born individuals to seek care when they had health problems. When they did seek care, immigrants were less likely to receive quality care than their counterparts.  Fast forward to recent research which show that immigrants are less likely to access care compared to their U.S.-born counterparts and, when they did seek care, they were apt to receive poorer care than non-immigrants. Despite a substantial investment in research, policies, and programs to address this problem, why has this inequality in access to health care and to quality treatment endured? This panel provides insights about some possible reasons which lead to these enduring inequalities and potential solutions.

4B: Whose Business is Immigrant Integration?

Cases like Plyler v. Doe in the U.S. and Elisabeta Dano v. Jobcenter Leipzig in Germany define national landscapes of integration. The law’s function as protection against short-term political efforts to demonize and disqualify millions of residents from public benefits in their adopted countries is of paramount importance to the current environment. Integration is the dynamic two-way process in which newcomers and the receiving society work together to build secure, vibrant, and cohesive communities. How is a nation built? What makes a country secure internally? To what are people assimilating? Are they entering a permanent second class? Does a multicultural nation pose different issues than an assimilationist nation? What is the process and what impacts this process to foster successful integration and full economic and personal achievement and civic participation in the adopted homeland? Law and social work play primary roles in the process, the protections, and the provisions that foster integration.

Members of the Boston College Faculty Committee planning this event are:

  • Theresa S. Betancourt, ScD, MA, Salem Professor in Global Practice at BCSSW; Director, Research Program on Children and Adversity (RPCA)

  • Westy Egmont, DMin., Associate Professor, Macro Practice, Global Practice, BSSW; Director, Immigrant Integration Lab

  • Mary Holper, JD, Associate Clinical Professor, BCLAW; Director, Immigration Clinic, BCLAW

  • Daniel Kanstroom, JD, LLM, Professor of Law, Thomas F. Carney Distinguished Scholar, Director of the International Human Rights Program, BCLAW; Associate Director, BC Center for Human Rights and International Justice; The Rappaport Center for Law and Public Policy

  • David Takeuchi, PhD, Dorothy Book Scholar, Professor, Associate Dean for Research, BSSW; Co-Director, Research and Innovations in Social, Economic, and Environmental Equity (RISE3)

  • Katherine G. Young, SJD, LLM, Associate Professor of Law, BCLAW

Boston College's Global Migration Conference will take place at the Boston College Law School on Boston College's Newton Campus.


Campus Map

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Global Migration Conference: Inclusion and Exclusion
Boston College Law School
885 Centre St., Newton Centre, MA 02459
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