Mayor Young speaks at TU’s Baltimore Immigration Summit

By Rebecca Kirkman on May 31, 2019

Organized by College of Liberal Arts Professor Elizabeth Clifford, the 9th Baltimore Immigration Summit brings together refugees, immigrants and their advocates

On Friday, about 200 people gathered for the 9th Baltimore Immigration Summit, organized by Towson University and the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.

The one-day conference brings together academics, policy makers, service providers, activists and community leaders working with and for immigrants and refugees in the Baltimore region.

A series of panels highlighted and celebrated the collaboration between refugee and immigrant groups in the Baltimore area and their advocates, including a discussion on the higher education experience for immigrant and first-generation students. The panel included TU students Boaz Alemseged and Shishira Sreenivas and Assistant Professor Miho Iwata from the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice.

Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young spoke at the event, held at Coppin State University's Physical Education Complex, emphasizing the city's commitment to immigrants.

The free event was made possible by support from BTU—Partnerships at Work for Greater Baltimore.

First held at Towson University in 2004, the summit is the brainchild of Elizabeth Clifford, a professor in the College of Liberal Arts' Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice.

Because it’s a partnership between Towson University and the Mayor’s Office, the summit is alternately held on the TU campus and at a variety of locations in Baltimore City.

When she first had the idea for the summit, Clifford says her vision was immediately supported by TU.

“My scholarship is in the sociology of immigration, but because Towson is a place that values engagement with the community, I was able to create [the Baltimore Immigration Summit] and keep it going without feeling like I was taking away from my ‘real work.’ This is the real work—to engage and talk about these issues in a productive environment.”

The summit aligns with the university’s commitment to diversity. Creating a more diverse and inclusive campus is one of TU’s eight presidential priorities.

“As a public university, I feel we have a responsibility to give back to the community, which is made up of people that keep us going,” Clifford says.

This year’s theme, Restoring Hope Through Solidarity, aims to “emphasize how collaboration with and on behalf of new Americans can help make the current immigration climate better.”

In addition to BTU, support for the event came from the College of Liberal Arts, and the departments of sociology, anthropology and criminal justice, family studies and community development, and women’s and gender studies. External sponsors include the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, the Jewish Museum of Maryland and The Associated Jewish Federation of Baltimore.

This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel’s priorities for Towson University: BTU-Partnerships at Work for Greater Baltimore.