Seton Hall Creating a Safe Haven for Refugees

Alyssa Futa

Social Media Liaison

The international migration crisis has forced many global aid groups into action, including those within the Seton Hall community. Dr. Roseanne Mirabella, a professor in the Department of Political Science and Executive Director of the Center for Community Research and Engagement, has jumpstarted a project to assist immigrants as they adjust to living in the United States.

After surveying and reaching out to people in her own community, Dr. Mirabella concluded that the main services new immigrants need are legal assistance, immigration services, and education. Her end goal for the project? A center where immigrants can feel safe and have ready access to necessary resources.

In order to achieve this, Dr. Mirabella has reached out to individuals within the Seton Hall community like Tim Hoffman, the Director for the Center for Community Research and Engagement.

She has also contacted graduate and undergraduate students, such as Sophie Thon. Thon, a Diplomacy student, stated via email, “My role in this project is to analyze data on immigrant and refugee populations in nearby counties in order to identify the scope of the need. In addition, I will be forging relationships with nursing and medical students and faculty in order to staff pop-up health clinics for temporary aid before the community center is complete.”

Dr. Mirabella hopes to draw on Seton Hall University’s status as a Catholic institution to aid the establishment of the center. In 2016, Pope Francis established goals and promoted efforts to make the Catholic Church more welcoming to migrants and refugees.

These goals are similar to the UN Global Compacts, which promote a positive view of mass migration and encourage communities to provide support for these groups. In addition to Dr. Mirabella’s project, Seton Hall has already begun to act on the Church’s goals, with a Dean’s task force on immigration being formed in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Nonetheless, the work is far from complete. Honors thesis students working on the project have begun writing grants and organizing programs such as clinics and free screenings. Dr. Mirabella says that she hopes to establish this project in a church, stating that that refugees and immigrants often feel comfortable in religious settings. In order to provide them with the best service possible as they transition to a new home, safety and comfort are a high priority.

After a year and a half of hard work, the project’s participants have expanded their goals moving forward. Dr. Mirabella hopes to connect with the College of Nursing and the Joseph A. Unanue Latino Institute for help translating registration forms. She also plans to contact students in the College of Education, the School of Diplomacy, and even Greek Life.

As an institution that promotes servant leadership, Seton Hall University stands in an optimal position to support projects like Dr. Mirabella’s within the global refugee and immigrant community.

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