WASHINGTON (July 3, 2003) -— Over 700 refugee and immigrant advocates will meet with their members of Congress and witness Children of War, a documentary theater production in which several refugee teenagers from war-torn countries share their personal experiences, at the National Migration Conference, July 6-10 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel here.
Those convened will learn the latest on the U.S. response to the world's 15 million refugees, work out new strategies for their efforts on behalf of immigrants, refugees, migrants, and people on the move, while hearing presentations by leading immigration and refugee experts.
Among the speakers will be Mexico's Secretary of State Santiago Creel, Nobel Prize Nominee Harry Wu, Oscar Cardinal Rodriguez of Honduras, President of the Latin American Bishops' Conference, Senator Sam Brownback, and U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez. Participants can choose from workshops on such topical issues as human trafficking, U.S.-Mexico border issues, and providing care for children in detention.
Children of War is a powerful narrative of the experiences of five children who have endured the harsh consequences of war, violence and poverty. The theatrical performance captures the essence of the reality many children around the world face through the eyes of children who have lived through war's turmoil. The children, whose lives the narrations are based upon, convey the difficult experiences that are an inevitable part of war and conflict. The oral histories shared by these children demonstrate the resilience of the human spirit to overcome even the most unimaginable circumstances. New York playwright and director Ping Chong directs Children of War, which is produced by the Center for Multicultural Human Services of Falls Church, Virginia.
On Wednesday, July 9, Conference participants, including two hundred Sudanese youth, will travel to Capitol Hill where they will meet with more than sixty members of Congress. They will advocate, voicing their concerns on such issues as trafficking in persons, immigration services, legalization of the undocumented, the plight of unaccompanied minors, and refugee protection. Kevin Appleby, Director of Migration and Refugee Policy at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops/Migration and Refugee Services, stressed the importance of advocacy during these uncertain times in which immigrants are viewed with suspicion. "Our policy makers must be reminded that immigrants and refugees built this nation and to forsake them now is to forsake our future. Hearing from Conference participants who serve newcomers and indeed, from the Sudanese youth, will help educate our public officials as to the contributions immigrants continue to make to our country's welfare," Appleby said.
Other speakers include Father Bryan Hehir, president of Catholic Charities, USA; Father Michael Blume of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant People; Eduardo Aguirre, the first director of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; John Miller, director of the U.S. State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons; and Loung Ung, author of a compelling memoir, First They Killed My Father-A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers.
The National Migration Conference is presented by the USCCB/MRS and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.
For more information visit www.nmc2003.org or call 202-541-3220.