This year’s Humanities Symposium was entitled “Slavery and Justice from Antiquity to the Present.” Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, a prolific author and professor of Religion at Goucher College, gave the keynote lecture, “Stand Your Ground in the Legacy of Slavery.”  Later in the week, department members Ida Ehrhardt and Ryan Gephart participated. Ryan presented on how race intersects mass incarceration in America. His presentation was the result of several months of research. Ida spoke on a panel entitled “Stories of Justice and Injustice from the US-Mexican Border.” Commenting on her panel presentation, Ida described how immigration law and international forces can directly impact the lives of children:

Since 2014, there has been a surge of unaccompanied minors immigrating from Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador seeking asylum in the US. The US has responded with a mixture of strategies aiming to prevent immigration, but also strategies to protect this vulnerable group. The Flores Agreement, the Homeland Security Act of 2002, and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2008 are all aimed at standardizing the treatment of unaccompanied minors who are detained in the US. These policies take action to protect the children and ensure they receive humane treatment in the US. However, unaccompanied minors are often forced to navigate the asylum process without an attorney, which drastically increases their chances of being deported. We need to better understand the current systems that the US has in place to handle the immigration of unaccompanied minors so that we can strengthen the policy and adjust to current challenges.

For more details on the humanities scholars program, including eligibility and scholarship details, visit its page on Messiah’s website.