Johns Hopkins symposium to look at impact of executive order on refugees, immigration

Bloomberg School hosts event exploring recent executive order, U.S. refugee resettlement and policy, and related public health and bioethics concerns

The Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health will host a symposium examining the consequences of President Donald Trump's executive order suspending the U.S. refugee admission program.

The symposium, "The Executive Order on Refugees: An Emerging Public Health Crisis," will take place from 3-5 p.m. on Thursday in the Bloomberg School's Sommer Hall on JHU's East Baltimore campus.

The executive order, signed Friday, blocks entry into the U.S. (with very narrow exceptions) of individuals from seven nations—Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen—for 90 days. The order also immediately suspends, for 120 days, the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, during which time refugees will not be admitted to the United States.

On Friday, two dozen faculty members joined Michael J. Klag, dean of the Bloomberg School, in publishing an open letter to President Trump urging against the action.

"We write as researchers and scientists, but we also share our deep concern that the proposed executive order ignores decades-long policy and law of the United States to provide a haven for people suffering persecution on account of nationality, membership in social group, political opinion or religion," the letter states. "Instead, it prioritizes admission of refugees on the basis of religious-based persecution over the needs of people suffering from political oppression in the Middle East and throughout the world."

The symposium will feature discussions on a range of topics, including an on-the-ground perspective of the Syrian refugee crisis; the U.S. refugee resettlement program; the health of refugees and displaced people in Iraq (including Yazidis) and Syria; and public health and bioethics concerns related to the refugee crisis.

Speakers at the symposium will include Zaher Sahloul, the former president of the Syrian American Medical Society; and David Rocah, a senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland.

Johns Hopkins faculty participants include:

  • Len Rubenstein, senior scientist at the Bloomberg School's Center for Public Health and Human Rights
  • Courtland Robinson, a Bloomberg School associate professor affiliated with the Center for Humanitarian Health
  • Nancy Kass, deputy director for public health at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics
  • Gilbert Burnham, a Bloomberg School professor affiliated with the Center for Humanitarian Health
  • Shannon Doocey, a Bloomberg School associate professor affiliated with the Center for Humanitarian Health

The event will be streamed live online.