Annual Symposium

SIRR Annual Symposiums

We are so excited to welcome you to SIRR's Annual Spring Symposium cohosted by the ACLU and the Education Law and Policy Society! Please join us for any of our five events exploring the future of global migration. We will explore the ways in which recent events have impacted immigrant communities and how they will shape the landscape of immigration law and policy in the US and abroad. Please register here:

*(1) Uyghur Crisis*
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Join us for a panel discussing the Uyghur genocide currently ongoing in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Our discussion will provide an overview of the human rights violations on the ground, as well as the impacts that it has on the global diaspora. 

Speakers: Mustafa Aksu (Uyghur Human Rights Project), Rushan Abbas (Campaign for Uyghurs), Pete Irwin (Uyghur Human Rights Project), Nyrola Elimä (Sheffield Hallam University)

*(2) Trends in Global Labor Migration*
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Join us in analyzing how the economic migration operates as both a push and pull on international movements. Two experts, Rachel Beck and Yiran Zheng, will come to discuss their work regarding labor migration, the economic forces pushing workers from one country to another, and how those forces interact with global politics.

Speakers: Rachel Beck (Talent Beyond Boundaries), Yiran Zhang (Harvard Law School)

*(3) Migration in a Climate Crisis*
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Join us for a panel discussing the intricacies of the intersection between climate change and immigration. Our discussion will examine the state of the current climate crisis and its ongoing and future impacts on the movement of people across the globe.

Speakers: Yael Schacher (Refugees International), Dr. Zoi Aliozi (Human Rights Educator & Climate Justice Specialist), Micharl Gerrard (Columbia Law School)

*(4) Refugee Rights to Education*
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Join us for a panel discussing contemporary issues in refugee education in the United States. The panel will discuss common challenges that refugee students face and the strategies in and outside the courtroom that legal practitioners and activists have at their disposal to support these children.

Speakers: Jody McBrien (University of South Florida), Diana Aragundi (Advocates for Children of New York), Philip Desgranges (The Legal Aid Society), Darnell Benoit (Flambwayan Haitian Literacy Project), Pedro Ruiz (Irvington Board of Education)

*(5) Refugee Crisis in Afghanistan*
Zoom link:

Join us for a panel discussing the challenges and success of resettlement of persons from Afghanistan. Our discussion will provide an overview of the current situation in Afghanistan, draw connections to other refugee crises, and offer advice on how students can get involved in providing support. 

Speakers: Michael Tracey (Women for Afghan Women), Akshaya Kumar (Human Rights Watch)

Flyer for the SIRR 2022 Symposium

The Society for Immigrant and Refugee Rights Third Annual Symposium featured both a panel discussion and a skills-building workshop. The event was generously co-sponsored by LaLSA & APALSA.

The panel was held on Thursday, April 11th from 6:30pm to 8:00pm and focused on the Impacts of U.S. Intervention on Global Migration. Our distinguished panelists spoke to America's past and ongoing foreign policy interference across the globe, and interrogated the relationship these practices have with today's migration trends. Our aim was to examine Global North-South dynamics and how these histories and power structures play out in the responsibility, resources, and benefits that States choose to dedicate to people fleeing violence, poverty, and instability.

The event was moderated by Professor Maeve Glass. The panelists were:

Professor Victoria Sanford (Lehman College)

Natasha Lycia Ora Brannan (LatinoJustice PRLDEF)

Professor Chaumtoli Huq (CUNY School of Law)

Diala Shamas (Center for Constitutional Rights)


The symposium panel was followed by a skills-building workshop.

SIRR held a workshop on The Biopsychosocial Imprint of Trauma: Working with Traumatized Clients, led by Dr. Katherine Porterfield on Friday, April 19th, from 10:00am to 12:00pm. Dr. Porterfield is a psychologist at the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture and has extensive experience working with adults, children, and families who have experienced war and refugee trauma and torture. This workshop was extraordinarily valuable for all who are seeking to build and hone skills for trauma-informed lawyering - especially relating to those issues discussed at length during the panel.

Symposium Poster 2019
SIRR Workshop 2019

SIRR's second annual symposium explored the increased detention of immigrants and the basic violations of their human rights. The event featured four distinguished panelists who discussed developments in immigration detention conditions; the Jennings v. Rodriguez decision; Attorney General Sessions’ suit against California; New York’s Immigrant Family Unity Project; and how local governments, law enforcement agencies, organizations, communities, and families are dealing with the criminalization and detention of immigrants.  

The event was moderated by Columbia Law School’s Professor Elora Mukherjee, and Dean Gillian Lester of the Law School gave opening remarks.

2018 (1)
2018 (2)

On Thursday, April 6th, 2017, SIRR held its first ever Symposium titled Executive Action Impact on Migration & Labor at Columbia Law School. This Symposium was opened with remarks from Columbia Law School Dean Gillian Lester who spoke on the disillusionment with globalization that has created a host of grievances at the heart of this discussion.  

The Symposium brought together students, academics, practitioners, and community members to discuss the impact of the expansion of executive power in the U.S., including President Trump’s executive orders, on immigrant, refugee, and low-wage worker communities. This Symposium aimed to bridge the divide between conversations on labor and immigration and engage more deeply with the impact of executive action in the U.S. today.

The panelists considered whether a rights-based framework was helpful in addressing some of these issues and how concerned communities, especially law students, may advocate in the face of contemporary challenges.

Panel 1: Immigration


Mohini Banerjee & Lizette Ceja, Students, Columbia Law School


Shaw Drake, Equal Justice Works Fellow, Human Rights First

Sonia Lin. General Counsel, NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs

Kendal Nystedt, Staff Attorney, Make the Road

Jason Parkin. Associate Clinical Professor, Columbia Law School

Panel 2: Labor and Workers’ Rights


Ricardo Garza & Clarisa Reyes-Becerra, Students, Columbia Law School


Karen Cacace, Director for the Employment Law Unit, Legal Aid Society

David Hausman, Skadden Fellow, ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project

Allison Julien, Dorothy Bolden Fellow, National Domestic Workers Alliance

Teresa Poor, Assistant Regional Director, National Labor Relations Board

This Symposium was co-sponsored by the Society for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, the Latino/a Law Students Association, the Worker's Rights Student Coalition, and the South Asian Law Students Association. The event was made possible through funding from the Columbia Law School Student Senate.