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New Program Aims To Unite San Diego Immigrants, Refugees, Veterans

Somali refugee Mana Ahmed Mohamed helps her daughter Idil Nunow wash her hands before enjoying a traditional Somali feast.
Katie Schoolov
Somali refugee Mana Ahmed Mohamed helps her daughter Idil Nunow wash her hands before enjoying a traditional Somali feast.
New Program Aims To Unite San Diego Immigrants, Refugees, Veterans
New Program Aims To Unite San Diego Immigrants, Refugees, Veterans GUEST: Ev Meade, director, Trans-Border Institute

Constructing a border wall or suspending refugees from coming to the United States will not change certain facts of life in San Diego. Our city is home to tens of thousands of people who will left their countries to resettle in the US. Many of those journeys have started with escape from violence or war. San Diego was home to a large number of military veterans who have experienced the trauma of war. There are similarities between those experiences. Joining me is my guest who was director of the University of San Diego's transporter Institute. Before we talk about the seminar we heard news today that Mexican president has canceled his scheduled trip to Washington next week. This came after news the president Trump tweeted, if Mexico was unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting. This is the commonest for Mexican-American residents? Yes. It is a tough moment. For all the criticism that we have made of the Mexican president he is in the a possible position -- in an impossible position. The wall is seen as symbolic American politics. The humanitarian consequences. I don't see how he could have come frankly when he invited the candidates particularly at that point candidate Trump to Mexico. It was a political disaster for him then. I don't think he had a choice but to cancel the meeting. If relationships become strained between Mexico and America more than they are right now would San Diego feel that first? In a certain way yes. We are intended depend on the binational relationship. There is a huge amount of business and lots of families that across national were people move back and forth on a daily basis. Anything that threatens to slow that down or impeded, that gets in the way of our economy. The flipside is true also. We have had a positive experience as a border community. One of the challenges for us in San Diego is to show that to the rest of the country. Of the seminar series that begins as we get focuses on immigrants, refugees and veterans. We usually think of those groups is separate and distinct without much in common. Where is the common ground? If you talk to service providers and the people who work with these folks to do a lot of the same things. We have a lot of people in San Diego who have experienced violence and conflict up close and personal. They suffer some of the same consequences. They have some of the same hopes for how they can turn that experience into something positive. This is something I've wanted to do in San Diego and it seem like this is the moment to do it and that's bring those communities together and see what we can learn from each other and see if we can come to know our mode -- our own community in a different way. To me this is what it means to be a global city. It's a great challenge for us. We don't presume as University people that we have the answers to these questions. The whole point of the seminar is to bring people together who want to help us define those answers. When you bring these people together in this series of seminars, what is the overall goal? You're coming to school. We have some great contents and things we think will get people moving. They are going to be interactive. We will be pulling people and asking them to explore their own experiences and share them in this group. The outcome is first I think getting this content to some really great service providers to improve what they are doing. Second, we know who's out there in San Diego. What are the needs and policy gaps and what are the opportunities? How do we design projects. Some of them will be research but others will be practical projects so we can collaborate and do our work better. Is it hard for military veterans to acknowledge they've experienced the same kind of trauma as a refugee or immigrant? Yes it is. I would also say this is true of anyone who has been in any experience of violence whether as a witness or a perpetrator or some combination. Violent silences people and it isolates people from others who haven't had the same experience. The other thing about violence and this is something that organizations and people who have worked with organizations know this. People who have experienced this stuff want to talk about it and they want to turn it into a positive experience and that's why I have confidence this will work. The series of seminars focuses on immigration from the border of Mexico. This week we've seen president Trump issue orders on the border wall and the suspension of refugees. The seminar has taken on huge political aspects. What is your reaction to that? We design this and started rolling it out before we knew what in the -- that any of this stuff what happened. What I would say is we are not designing a political movement. We are nonpartisan. The part that I think is relevant to the current moment and I heard this throughout the election campaign and from people who are Republicans, Democrats and independents and that is the desire to do something. The desire for ordinary citizens soon -- citizens to get together and take on these big [Indiscernible]. We've been at war in Afghanistan for 15 years and it seems like it will never end. We've had a migration relationship with Mexico and Central America that has been going on for the last 10 or 15 years. We've had a drug war that's gotten terrible in Mexico over the last 10 years and spread to Central America. People don't see an end in sight in there's discontent I think with the kind of conventional policy options. We want to do something more grassroots. You could say the same for how we treat our veterans. Lots of discontent about that. How is it going to work? No one particularly happy about the options that are out there. Let's explore some new ones. The first seminar gets underway this weekend. How can people get involved? Send us an email. Check us out if you go to the KPBS community events page we have the seminar listed there. It's on the website. Check us out. The seminars are free of charge. We have a registration form and space is limited but there is space available. Get a hold of us. They start tomorrow night at 5 PM. I have been speaking with the director of USDA transporter Institute. Thank you for having me.

A new seminar series at the University of San Diego’s Kroc School for Peace Studies aims to bring together local organizations that serve immigrant, refugee and veteran communities and their clients to come up with ways to address the effects of war and conflict.

The program is free and gets underway Friday.

Ev Meade, director, of USD’s Trans-Border Institute discusses Thursday on Midday Edition, the connections and challenges facing immigrants, refugees and veterans.