Campus News

Immigration, Human Rights Panel highlights impact of migration, policy changes

The immigration and human rights panel “From Awareness to Action: Immigration’s Impact on Children from Madison to the Northern Triangle of Central America,” took place Thursday at the Pyle Center. 

Panelists shared their experiences and expertise to explain the situations that lead to migration, the ramifications and the ways everyday people can get involved through policy change. 

Panel Coordinator Erika Rosales spoke about her own experience immigrating from Mexico to the United States as a child. 

“I came undocumented at the age of 12,” Rosales said. “I came with my sister … my sister and I came without our parents for several different reasons. We were very, very lucky. We were so lucky. And I know that probably feels like, ‘what do you mean you’re lucky to come at the age of 12 and 9 to a different country and leave everything behind, but we were.’” 

Erin M. Barbato, the director of the Immigrant Justice Clinic at UW-Madison’s Law School, spoke on how new policies create an invisible border for asylum seekers.

“You have all heard the calls for ‘let’s build a wall’ and they have not materialized in terms of brick and mortar but there is a policy wall that is blocking almost every single asylum seeker who is seeking asylum at our southern border,” Barbato said. 

Policies such as metering, migrant protection protocols and the safe third country transit bar have made it incredibly difficult if not impossible for people to migrate at the United States southern border, according to Barbato.  

Tova Walsh, assistant professor in the school of social work at the university noted the traumatic effects of separating parents and children at such a young age. 

“Thinking about the traumatic separation of families … we are treating separation so very casually that we are not even keeping track in a way that can ensure we are reuniting families,” Walsh said.  

Walsh emphasized the importance of supporting families after they reunite in order for them to feel secure in their relationships. 

“The fabric of our country is in danger of changing quite dramatically,” Barbato said. “Over the past two years, policies have had put in place that have changed things beyond my wildest nightmares.” 

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