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Refugees and Asylum Seekers: From Angel Island to Now

  • Bechtel International Community Center, Assembly Room, Stanford University Campus (map)

In our continuing effort to connect the Angel Island immigration history to contemporary issues, we will explore the little-known stories of refugees and asylum seekers who landed at Angel Island in the early 1900's and compare them against the personal experiences of more recent refugees from Vietnam and Bosnia.  We will also hear from a researcher at the Migration Policy Institute, a think tank based in Washington D.C., who will discuss the U.S. asylum system in crisis and some common-sense steps to chart a way forward.

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Guest Speakers:

Heather Klein
Maria Sakovich
Dien Yuen
Armina Husic
Faye Hipsman

Heather Klein is an American soprano and Yiddish Chanteuse.  She has performed extensively around the world.  During World War II, Heather’s grandmother Rosa Ginsburg fled Nazi-occupied Austria for China, where she boarded a ship to the U.S.  Upon her arrival at Angel Island, she was questioned and summarily detained for almost two weeks.  Her grandmother’s story is told in Shanghai Angel, a musical performance written and performed by Heather.

Maria Sakovich, MPH and MA, is a public historian and scholar.  She researches, writes and develops exhibits in the areas of immigration, family and community history and has written articles about the Angel Island Immigration Station and the non-Asian experience there.  Her grandfather, a Russian orthodox priest, made frequent trips to Angel Island offering help and reassurance to refugees arriving after the 1917 Russian revolution. 

Dien Yuen is a Philanthropy and Wealth Advisor at Evercore Wealth Management.  She is responsible for providing customized philanthropic advisory services to individuals, families, family offices, as well as nonprofit, foundation, and institutional clients.  Previously, Ms. Yuen founded Kordant Philanthropy Advisors, a boutique philanthropy research and advisory firm serving families and institutions in the U.S. and Asia.  Ms. Yuen and her family came to the U.S. as “Vietnamese boat people” and settled in the Midwest.

Armina Husic is the Associate Director of the Center for Survivors of Torture (CST) at Asian Americans for Community Involvement (AACI).  A former refugee from Bosnia and Herzegovina herself, Ms. Husic is a passionate advocate for victims of severe trauma in need of psychological and social service support.  She has extensive experience in assisting government and non-government agencies, mutual aid associations, employment service providers, workforce development boards, and policy makers in their efforts to help refugees achieve self-sufficiency.  

Faye Hipsman most recently served as a Policy Analyst and California Program Coordinator with the U.S. Immigration Policy Program at the Migration Policy Insitute (MPI). She held various positions at MPI from 2011 to 2017, first based in Washington, DC, and later in San Francisco.Her areas of expertise include the asylum system, immigration enforcement and border security, and immigration and politics.She has published more than 60 reports, articles, and policy briefs on a wide range of immigration topics, including in the Columbia Journal of International Affairs.In September 2018, she co-authored the MPI report,The U.S. Asylum System in Crisis: Charting a Way Forward, which examines current breakdowns in the U.S. asylum system and proposes steps to get the system back on track.From 2016-2017, she was named an Affiliated Scholar with University of California-Hastings College of Law. Ms. Hipsman is currently a J.D. Candidate (2020) at the University of California, Berkeley - School of Law, where she is a member of the California Law Review.