As the world refugee crisis swells, Pres. Donald Trump has capped the number of refugees that the U.S. will accept at 45,000 — the lowest level since the refugee resettlement program was established 37 years ago. In 2016, Pres. Obama set the cap at 110,000. Trump calls it the “America First Refugee Program,” evoking the name of the openly anti-Semitic WWII-era America First Committee. Mark Hetfield is president and CEO of HIAS, which was founded as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society in 1881. HIAS is the world’s oldest organization dedicated to refugees. Hetfield has led the transformation to a global agency that assists and resettles refugees of all faiths and ethnicities and is a major implementing partner of the United Nations Refugee Agency and the U.S. Department of State. In February 2017, under his leadership, HIAS became the first and only national refugee resettlement agency to file a court challenge against the Trump Administration and its executive order implementing a Muslim and refugee ban, a challenge which led to an injunction against the order. He discusses the impact of Trump’s refugee bans and his reaction to the protest movement that rose up to challenge Muslim bans. (September 27, 2017 broadcast)
Peter Gould has been involved in Vermont arts as a performer, director, teacher, and author for more than 45 years. He is the founder of “Get Thee to the Funnery,” a youth Shakespeare program in Craftsbury, Vt. which celebrated its 20th season in 2017. As half of Gould & Stearns — a 2 man touring theater company — Peter traveled throughout the country and internationally, performing more than 3,000 performances, including their original play, “A Peasant of El Salvador.” Peter received a B.A. and Ph.D from Brandeis University, where he is currently an adjunct professor at Brandeis, teaching mindfulness and problem solving. Peter has published five books, including his latest, Horse Drawn Yogurt: Stories from Total Loss Farm. His first book was Burnt Toast, a legendary Back to the Land novel. His book Write Naked, which received the 2009 Green Earth Book Award, given to the writer of young adult fiction that most inspires environmental consciousness and stewardship in its readers. Gould is the recipient of the 2016 Arts Education Award from the Vermont Arts Council. In this Vermont Conversation, Gould performs and tells the story behind “Mother of Exiles,” a song he wrote based on the poem by Emma Lazarus, which is on a plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty. He proposes it as an anthem for the modern immigrant rights movement. (September 6, 2017 broadcast)
Peter Gould, author, performer, 2016 Vermont Arts Council award winner
Part 1 (includes performance of Mother of Exiles):
In President Trump’s first week in office, the American Civil Liberties Union handed him his first defeat: successfully challenging his refugee and Muslim ban in court and winning a stay in multiple federal courts. Now the Vermont chapter of the ACLU prepares to defend immigrant rights, privacy, LGBTQ rights, press freedom and other civil liberties in Vermont. We discuss the road ahead.
More than one million refugees poured into Europe in 2015, the greatest migration of people since WWII. Most of the refugees are fleeing war, especially from Syria, but many are Iraqis and Afghans fleeing violence. Most are smuggled by boat onto the Greek islands from Turkey, which now hosts more refugees than any other country. Seventh generation Vermonter Jane Dwinell, a registered nurse and Unitarian minister, recently returned from the Greek island of Lesvos, where she volunteered with Lighthouse Refugee Relief to assist refugees arriving in overflowing boats. She discusses the crisis and why she helped. She also wrote a daily blog account of her volunteer work in Greece. [Feb 10, 2016 broadcast]
Jane Dwinell, RN, Unitarian minister, refugee volunteer