As the 70th anniversary of the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 60th anniversary of the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness draws near, the world continues to experience some of the highest levels of displaced people in modern history. From Venezuela to South Sudan to Syria, the emergence of major refugee crises over the last ten years has led to 100 million people fleeing their countries, with more than 79.5 million individuals displaced in 2019. Although the United Nations negotiated the 2018 Compact on Migration to address these challenges, countries have adopted differing responses to increased refugee flows, with some offering refuge while others have limited refugee resettlements. The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced these trends as countries shut travel in order to limit the virus’ spread, leaving more vulnerable populations without access to safety.

Episcopal Migration Ministries and The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations hosted a webinar on the current state of refugees and refugee policy on Thursday, May 20, from 4:00 to 5:00PM ET. In addition to the Church’s migration ministry and policy staff, the event featured the following experts:

  • David FitzGerald, Professor, Gildred Chair in U.S.-Mexican Relations, and Co-Director, Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, UCSD
  • Susan Fratzke, Senior Policy Analyst, Migration Policy Institute
  • Jana Mason, Senior External Relations Advisor, UNHCR

The event had a moderated panel discussion followed by a question-and-answer session with the audience.

About the Panelists:

David Scott FitzGerald is Theodore E. Gildred Chair in U.S.-Mexican Relations, Professor of Sociology, and Co-Director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California San Diego. His research analyzes policies regulating migration and refugees in countries of origin, transit, and destination, as well as the experiences of people on the move. FitzGerald’s books include Refuge beyond Reach: How Rich Democracies Repel Asylum Seekers (Oxford University Press 2019), winner of the American Sociological Association (ASA) International Migration Section Best Book Award and International Studies Association Human Rights Section Best Book Award; Culling the Masses: The Democratic Origins of Racist Immigration Policy in the Americas (Harvard University Press 2014), whose awards include the ASA Distinguished Scholarly Book Award; and A Nation of Emigrants: How Mexico Manages its Migration (University of California Press 2009). His seven co-edited books include Immigrant California: Understanding the Past, Present, and Future of U.S. Policy (Stanford University Press 2021). He is currently co-authoring a book titled Refugees: A Sociological Systems Approach (under contract with Polity).

Susan Fratzke is a Senior Policy Analyst with MPI’s International Program, where she primarily works on forced migration, asylum, and resettlement policy. Ms. Fratzke has previously worked for the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration and with an adult literacy program serving immigrant and refugee students in Minnesota. Ms. Fratzke holds an MA in German and European studies, with a concentration in European migration policy, from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, where she received the 2012 Jill A. Hopper Award for Excellence. She has also earned a certificate in refugees and humanitarian emergencies from Georgetown’s Institute for the Study of International Migration and holds a BA in political science (with honors) from Iowa State University.

Jana Mason is Senior External Relations Advisor at the Washington, D.C. office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). She represents the agency’s interests with the U.S. government—particularly the State Department and Congress—and with nongovernmental organizations. Prior to joining UNHCR in 2008, Jana was Director of Government Relations and Advocacy at the International Rescue Committee (IRC). She was previously with the U.S. Committee for Refugees for 11 years, where she served as policy analyst for the Asia/Pacific region and advocated for refugee protection and assistance. During this time, she assessed refugee and asylum situations in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, Japan, China, and elsewhere. Jana has worked in the refugee arena since 1983, which included a position as assistant director of refugee programs for the State of Virginia. She has a bachelor’s degree from Boston University, a master’s degree from the University of Virginia, and a law degree from Georgetown University.