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Challenges confronting refugees tackled at meeting


More than 100 people shared information on refugees and resettlement opportunities at the Maryland Refugee Advisory Council's annual meeting last week in New Windsor, officials said this week.

The council met Dec. 2 with Lavinia Limon, director of the Federal Office of Refugee Resettlement, and state coordinators from Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, D.C., at the Brethren Service Center.

"Everyone wants to work together to help refugees fit into society and become self-sufficient," said Kathleen Campanella, the center's public information coordinator.

During the daylong meeting, participants representing various religious organizations discussed the challenges that confront refugees as new residents in this country.

Frank Sharry, director of the National Immigration Forum, gave a historical perspective on immigration to the United States. Ms. Campanella said he focused on the cyclical resistance to nationalities that immigrated to the United States.

Mr. Sharry began with the turn-of-the-century opposition to various immigrant groups and finished with today's anti-immigration sentiment.

"At one time, people resented Italian immigrants," said Ms. Campanella, who said she was speaking from her family's experiences. "Through education and the opportunity to know immigrants as individuals as opposed to a faceless group, we learn that all people contribute to society."

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