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Forum on Migration | St. Francis College

Forum on Migration

Enhancing civic consciousness, volunteerism and advocacy of immigrant rights

SFC's Forum on Migration hosts a series of annual conferences, guest lectures, and public events centered on current immigration policies. Among other topics, the Forum focuses on global migration trends, current policies of criminalization and radicalization of undocumented immigrants, and the adjustment of newly arrived immigrants in their receiving countries.

As an educational center founded on the Franciscan tradition of hospitality, compassion, love and respect, the Forum is dedicated to facilitating dialogue between various non-profit organizations, academic research and political institutions involved in shaping immigration policies.

SFC Forum on Migration is an initiative under SFC International.



In keeping with Franciscan tradition, SFC's Forum on Migration is founded on the values of hospitality, compassion, love and respect. The Forum is an educational center dedicated to facilitating the dialogue between various non-profit organizations, academic research and political institutions involved in shaping immigration policies.

Goals and Objectives

The Forum on Migration’s primary goal is to instill in students an awareness of immigration issues and enhance their civic consciousness, volunteerism and advocacy of immigrant rights. Among other topics, the Forum focuses on the trends of global migration, current policies of criminalization and racialization of undocumented immigrants, and the adjustment of newly arrived immigrants in their receiving countries.

The Forum hosts a series of guest lectures and public events to analyze the most current policies and most recent research in the field. The Annual Conference organized by the Forum brings together academic scholars, civil activists and politicians who shed light on the history of international labor movement and its economic and social effects. SFC students are provided with the unique opportunity to engage in the ongoing immigration debate and make their voices heard.

Meet Our Team

Dr. Halyna Lemekh

Coordinator of Forum on Migration
Email: [email protected]

Reza Fakhari

Vice President for Internationalization
Email: [email protected]

Timothy Houlihan

Director of International Study and Director of Institute for Global Engagement
Email: [email protected]

Daniel Benson

Director of Study Abroad
Email: [email protected]

Olivia Bullio Mattos

Associate Director of the Institute for Global Engagement
Email: [email protected]

Elizabeth Baldwin

Manager of SFC International
Email: [email protected]

Esther Hassell

Coordinator of International Partnerships & Programs, SFC International
Email: [email protected]

Tadeu Rodrigues

Marketing Assistant at SFC International
Email: [email protected]

Advisory Board

  • Dr. Jennifer Lancaster, VP for Academic Affairs; Academic Dean; Professor, Psychology
  • Dr. Reza Fakhari, VP for Internationalization: Professor, Political Science
  • Dr. Uwe Gielen, Director, Institute for International & Cross-Cultural Psychology (IICCP): Professor Emeritus, Psychology
  • Dr. Daniel Benson, Assistant Professor, Foreign Languages, Fine Arts, and Global Studies
  • Dr. Halyna Lemekh, Assistant Professor, Sociology; Coordinator, Forum on Migration (ex officio)

Research Opportunities

Summer/Fall 2019 Opportunities

  • The Social Change and Collective Identity Lab: Director Dr. Daniel Kaplin ([email protected]) will examine the role of social identities in how people respond to (and when people challenge) discrimination and inequality.

Faculty Research

Uwe P. Gielen & Sunghun Kim (2019): Global Changes in Children's Lives. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Appearing in the new Cambridge Elements Series 'Psychology and Culture', this booklet discusses the nature of childhood in four highly diverse societies located in Australia, Asia, and Central America. In addition, it discusses global changes and global trends that are changing the very nature of childhood and adolescence in many parts of the world. Migration and the worldwide spread of ideas through new information technologies are two essential motors of globalization. Sintia E. Molina, Ph.D. Professor, Department of Foreign Languages, Fine Arts, and International Cultural Studies Coordinator, Study Abroad Program to Segovia, Spain
Uwe P. Gielen & Jaipaul L. Roopnarine (Eds.). (2016). Childhood and Adolescence: Cross-Cultural Perspectives and Applications. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger. This comprehensive reference analyzes psychological and anthropological studies concerning child and adolescent development across cultures. The contributions from leading scholars include several chapters focusing on immigrant children, adolescents, and their families. Other chapters deal with children and adolescents in various nonwestern countries located in East Asia, the Caribbean, the Arab world, Central America, and Africa. The book helps readers to adopt a global perspective which is very much needed for a better understanding of immigrant families arriving in the US from different parts of the world.
Halyna Lemekh (2010). Ukrainian Immigrants in New York: Collision of Two Worlds. LFB Scholarly Publishing LLC. By examining encounters between different waves of Ukrainian immigrants, this book reveals social factors that influence individuals’ decisions to immigrate. Similar to immigrants at the turn of the twentieth century, this century’s immigrants relocate due to the economic crisis and political instability in Ukraine. Contrary to the former immigrants, however, recent immigrants are better prepared for adaptation in the receiving country as a result of favorable anticipatory socialization in their sending country.

Sintia E. Molina, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Foreign Languages, Fine Arts, and International Cultural Studies

Coordinator, Study Abroad Program to Segovia, Spain


Dominican Migration: Transnational Perspectives

Co-authored with Ernesto Sagas

The collection of articles in this book examines the migration of people from the Dominican Republic as a global, transnational phenomenon. Dominicans have been migrating massively over the last fifty years to the United States and other global destinations such as Spain, Italy and countries in Latin America. The questions: what has fueled the migration of Dominicans? And what is the nature of this massive movement of people? are answered by examining Dominican migration through the lens of transnationalism theory. This interdisciplinary work analyzes the Dominican diaspora as a multifaceted, global phenomenon, in which more often than not, Dominican transmigrants live, work, and participate in two or more societies. Dominican transmigrants create social networks which may extend over several regions of the United States, the Dominican Republic, and other foreign nations. The end result is people in a constant flux, where transnational practices and patterns are re-recreated out of the transmigratory experience. (University Press of Florida, 2004)

The Faces Behind Madame Alexander’s Dolls: A Dominican Labor Experience.

Gratereaux, Molina and Rodriguez (Cayena Publications, 2010)


Young Chinese Americans in New York City
Challenges Immigrants Face In the Latin Population
Education at the UN to Counteract Xenophobia
Transforming Trauma of Migration
Understanding the Experience of Forced Migration
Historical Accounting of Immigration in Chinatown
Mental Health and Psychological Support for Refugees

2021 Events

April 28 | One Route Closes, Another Route Opens

Noemi Mena and Kate Schoenbach’s presentation focuses on the phenomenon of forced migration in the contemporary global world. The journalists will talk about migratory routes, asylum seekers' experiences in refugee settlements, and the challenges faced by migrants in border regions. They will share their experiences covering the refugee crisis throughout Europe over the last several years, from the ongoing crisis on the Greek islands to the current situation in Canarias (Spanish Islands).

April 21 | Sam Dinga, Ed.D. My Coming to America

The challenges Africans face while attempting to obtain travel documents, travel, and resettle in a different continent are not for the faint of hearts. Dr. Dinga will share his experience of creating a network of support to navigate and overcome culture shock and socio-political and economic challenges

April 14 | Weakening Immigrant Children’s Rights

The abhorrent family separation policy and the subsequently proposed Family Detention Centers during the Trump Administration could be regarded as ways to circumscribe or eliminate the Flores Agreement, the most important legal act protecting immigrant children in the U.S.. Drs. Gabriel Lataianu and Camelia-Manuela Lataianu's presentation will shed light on how the above-mentioned policies bluntly violate the Flores Agreement, leaving thousands of immigrant children in a legislative limbo as the apprehended minors are protected neither by the U.S. Constitution nor the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (the US being the only U.N. member that is not part of the Convention).

March 29 | Dr. Paoyi Huang: Home, Sweet Home?

Female marriage migrants are often portrayed as gold-diggers, and their marriage is perceived as bogus or commodified in the media. Dr. Huang's research examines Chinese female marriage migrants’ lives in cross-border marriage with Taiwanese men and shows their reproductive and domestic labor in the name of love. Facing various challenges such as ethnic tensions and unequal gendered power dynamic at home, these Chinese female marriage migrants build their own community through food-sharing outside of their own home.

March 22 | Joseph Malual Ph.D. on Forced Migration

Violent conflicts and natural disasters continue to displace millions of people across the globe every year with the severity of displacement experienced in developing nations. These events destroy people's livelihoods, forcing them to leave everything behind and flee their areas or countries of origin to seek safety in other countries, including the United States and other developed Western nations. Widespread conflicts pose a serious threat to global stability and sustainable development as stipulated in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Dr. Malual's presentation centers around the extent and consequences of forced migration and its implications for sustainable development.

Feb 22 | Melissa Kono Ph.D. Latinx Immigration

Professor Kono's study examines the effects of Latinx immigration in two small Wisconsin towns and how it has revitalized the downtown area by increasing commerce and the retail mix, and helping to stave off downtown blight. Her research focuses on interviews with business owners, life-long community residents, and community leaders coupled with demographical data and land records to demonstrate the positive effects of immigration and entrepreneurship in rural areas.

2019 Events

November 4 | Dr. Jenny Labendz,Global Migration

Dr. Jenny Labendz: The Effects of Global Migration

Guest speaker: Dr. Jenny Labendz

Dr. Labendz's area of specialization is Jewish Studies, and her research focuses on ancient Jewish literature and religion. Her first book, Socratic Torah: Non-Jews in Rabbinic Intellectual Culture (Oxford, 2013), examines Late Antique rabbinic literature's attitudes and discourse about non-Jews. Her current research project is on rabbinic eschatology and addresses why and how the rabbis of the Talmud talked about the end of the world. Dr. Labendz studied at Barnard College, Hebrew University, and the Jewish Theological Seminary, and has taught at various colleges in New York and New Jersey.

Dr. Labendz's lecture will explore how the consequences and implications of migration intersect dramatically with the interests of religion. She will show that in 4 examples in the context of Judaism that are also broadly applicable:

1. Stories about migratory origins: A migratory people are a people who understand vulnerability and relationships.

2. Exiles: The pain and challenge of historical forced migrations in the early period of Judaism built community and resilience.

3. Ethnicities: Diverse Jewish communities throughout the world in the medieval and early modern periods led to both broad Jewish identity and religious and communal adaptability to a range of cultures and environments

4. Transplants: When communities of Hasidic Jewish refugees were transplanted post-Holocaust to America, their perceived connections with the old world maintained their sense of authenticity and continuity.

Dr. Labendz currently teaches a Survey of the World's Religions, Hebrew Bible, and Judaism.

October 28 | HOME with Dawn Scibilia, Director

Forum on Migration Presents a Film Screening

Dawn Scibilia's debut documentary, HOME
(2006) won an Emmy Award for writing and two Emmy Award nominations for Best Documentary and Best Photography.

Dawn co-produced, directed, photographed, and edited the documentary, which explores the concept of "home" from the perspective of recent Irish immigrant Alan Cooke and New York-based notables Susan Sarandon, Liam Neeson, Rosie Perez, Woody Allen, Elaine Kaufman, Pete Hamill, Frank and Malachy McCourt, Fran Lebowitz, Colin Quinn, Alfred Molina, and a host of immigrants and native New Yorkers.

Dawn began her career in the industry as a Screenplay Analyst, Film Runner and Production Assistant, and has worked on New York-based TV shows, music videos, and major studio motion pictures. She has written, directed, shot and edited short films and directed full length and one act plays with material ranging from Noel Coward to modern original comedy and period drama.

Dawn is a native New Yorker and graduate of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. In her next film After the Vote
, Dawn explores women in politics in post-suffrage era New York. She will join those in attendance as a special guest after HOME screens.

May 1 | Leading While Muslim

On Wednesday, May 1, SFC Forum on Migration hosted a presentation of the book Leading While Muslim by Dr. Debbie Almontaser, a proud alumna of St. Francis College and perhaps the first Muslim female graduate of our college. Debbie has become an influential national interfaith leader and a forceful defender of human rights.

Dr. Debbie Almontaser was the founding and former principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy in Brooklyn, New York the first Arabic Dual Language public school in the United States. A 25-year veteran of the NYC Public School System, she taught and served as a director in special education and inclusion, trained teachers in literacy, and served as a multicultural specialist and diversity adviser. Currently she is the Founder and CEO of Bridging Cultures Group Inc and a Professor at the College of Staten Island’s School of Education in the Post Master's Advanced Certificate Program for Leadership in Education. Dr. Almontaser was a featured speaker at the 2016 National Democratic Convention and has been featured on the front page of the New York Times and profiled in Time Magazine, Newsweek and Daily News.

Leading While Muslim examines the lived experiences of American Muslim principals to determine whether global events, political discourse, and the media coverage of Islam and Muslims post 9/11 have affected their leadership and spirituality. This book is intended to help readers to gain an understanding of the adversities that American Muslim principals have experienced post-9/11 and how to address these adversities, particularly through decisions about educational policy and district leadership.

Copies of her book are available for purchase.

This event was co-sponsored by the Office of Mission, Ministry and Interfaith Dialogue, Institute for International and Cross-Cultural Psychology, and the International Cultural Club.

April 25 | Forum on Migration Inaugural Conference

The Forum on Migration at St. Francis College expands your understanding of current immigration policies through a series of guest lectures and public events developed to enhance your civic consciousness, volunteerism and advocacy of immigrant rights

March 29 | Coming to America in the 21st Century

Leading academics, mental-health clinicians, advocates took part in Coming to America in the 21st
Century, a day-long conference on March 29th that shed light on often-overlooked daily challenges immigrants face, and revealed treatments and programs that improve their mental health and well-being.

The conference was the first of two flagship events to kick off the college's new Forum on Migration, an education center that promotes immigration research, and provides tools and resources for the growing numbers of immigrants, migrants and refugees in the St. Francis community and beyond.

Growing up in Two Worlds: Young Chinese Americans in New York City

Transforming Trauma of Migration: Utilizing the 7-Step Integrating Healing Model

Challenges New Immigrants Face Within the Latin Population

Understanding the Experience of Forced Migration among Latinx Children and their Families

Education at the United Nations to Counteract Xenophobia Around the World

Historical Accounting of Immigration in NYC Chinatown

Mental Health and Psychological Support for Refugees and Migrants, featuring a Musical Performance

March 11 | Special Screening of False Promises

Human sex trafficking is among the world's fastest growing criminal industries, becoming a global multi-billion-dollar enterprise. Millions of women, men, and children around the world become victims of human sex trafficking each year.

Through this impressive educational video, False Promises
highlights the modern-day scourge of sex trafficking and the shattering impact it could have on young lives globally.

The courage and testimony of a young woman can change the world and prevent individuals from becoming victims of false promises. Shamere Mckenzie, portrayed in False Promises
, was a victim of sexual exploitation. Now she has become an activist and an expert in human trafficking issues. Due to this notoriety, Shamare has been invited to share her experience at numerous universities, conferences, community events, state agencies, private companies, and NGOs. She continues to raise awareness and trains people on how to identify situations that may end in exploitation and abuse of human rights. Her goal, in sharing her experience, is to carry a message of the danger involved in human sex trafficking to children, adolescents, and parents through the distribution of this documentary in schools and digital channels. Followed by a discussion with Paula Nahr, Producer of the film and President of Switch Foundation in Aruba.

March 6 | Dragon Seed: Chinese Immigrant in NY

Uwe P. Gielen (Ph.D. in Social Psychology, Harvard University) is Professor-Emeritus and Executive Director of the Institute for International and Cross-Cultural Psychology at St. Francis College, New York. His work centers on Chinese American immigrant children and young adults, cross-cultural and international psychology, and international family psychology. His publications include 28 edited and co-edited volumes. He has served as president of the Society for Cross-Cultural Research, the International Council of Psychologists, and the International Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association.

February 25 | Drawings from Dilley: Family Doctor

Dr. Anita Ravi is the founder and medical director of the PurpLE Clinic at the Institute for Family Health, and an emerging leader in the field of human trafficking and health. Dr. Ravi's vision for the PurpLE (Purpose: Listen and Engage) Clinic was simple but pioneering: a community health center-based clinic targeted to the needs of survivors of human trafficking and individuals impacted by other forms of trauma, including rape and domestic violence.

Today, PurpLE has served over 300 people and Dr. Ravi publishes and speaks regularly about how primary care must radically adapt to meet the needs of survivors of trafficking and other forms of exploitation.

Dr. Ravi is a board-certified family physician with specialized training in reproductive health epidemiology, public health, and health policy. She leads the PurpLE Clinic and maintains an active patient panel there.

In 2016, she received the Family Medicine Education Consortium's "Emerging Leader" Award, and in 2018, she was chosen as a main stage speaker at the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) National Conference of Family Medicine Residents and Medical Students.

Dr. Ravi regularly blogs, publishes and speaks on her experiences as a primary care provider for survivors of gender-based violence

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