Episcopal Migration Ministries | Is the Biden Administration Turning a Page on Humanitarian Protection for Immigrants?

April 8, 2021

Joe Biden’s campaign promised to bring major changes to the way the United States treats asylum seekers and refugees seeking protection in this country. In contrast to the previous administration, which restricted asylum access at the U.S.-Mexico border through various policies and slashed refugee numbers, the Biden administration pledged to reverse these measures to promote a more humane migration policy. However, the first 100 days has seen the new administration adopt a more deliberate slow pace in undoing these policies, especially as more unaccompanied children arrive at the Southwest border seeking protection. The increase in immigrants seeking protection raises questions over how the administration will respond to these near and long-term challenges given the previous administration’s approach and what’s needed to implement a more humanitarian process.

In addition to the Church’s migration ministry and policy staff, the webinar will include a moderated panel discussion, followed by a question and answer session, with the following experts:

  • Mark Greenberg, Senior Fellow and Director, Human Services Initiative, Migration Policy Institute
  • Yael Schacher, Senior U.S. Advocate, Refugees International
  • Danilo Zak, Policy and Advocacy Associate, National Immigration Forum

About the Panelists:

Mark Greenberg is a Senior Fellow at the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., and directs MPI’s Human Services Initiative.  The Initiative focuses on immigration issues affecting children and families and humanitarian populations and on the intersections of immigration with health and human services programs and policies.  Priority areas of Initiative work include refugee resettlement, issues affecting unaccompanied children and families arriving at the border, immigration and child welfare, and public benefits issues affecting families with immigrant members.

From 2009-17, Mr. Greenberg worked at the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, initially as ACF Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and then as Acting Assistant Secretary from 2013-17. ACF includes the Office of Refugee Resettlement, along with a wide range of human services programs, including Head Start, child care, child support, child welfare, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.  Previously, Mr. Greenberg was Executive Director of the Georgetown Center on Poverty, Inequality and Public Policy; Executive Director of the Center for American Progress’ Task Force on Poverty, the Director of Policy for the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP); and a legal services lawyer in Florida and California.

Yael Schacher is Senior U.S. advocate at Refugees International, where she focuses on  asylum, refugee admissions, temporary protected status, and humanitarian visas. Prior to joining Refugees International, Yael researched the relationship between immigration and refugee policy for her forthcoming book on the history of asylum in the U.S. since the late nineteenth century.  While teaching immigration history at the University of Connecticut, Yael worked on asylum and humanitarian visa applications at the Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants; while a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, Yael combined historical research on asylum and advocacy on behalf of detained asylum seekers. Most of her recent work at Refugees International has focused on U.S. asylum and border policy.

Danilo Zak is a Senior Policy and Advocacy Associate at the National Immigration Forum, where he focuses on asylum, border, and legal immigration issues. At the Forum, Danilo contributes to policy analysis and coalition building in support of immigration reform, and supports stakeholder meetings with federal and congressional officials.

Prior to joining the Forum in October 2019, Danilo did research with the Yale Jackson Institute and UNHCR on refugee resettlement in Denver, Colorado, and with Advocates Abroad, an NGO based in Lesvos, Greece that delivers legal support to asylum seekers. Danilo received a B.A. in Global Affairs from Yale College and a MSc in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies from Oxford University.