North Star Journey Live: Beyond the Border: The Immigration Crisis, Up Close

Thursday, February 08
Show: 6pm

MPR News and Sahan Journal present
North Star Journey Live: Beyond the Border:
The Immigration Crisis, Up Close
El Colegio High School
4137 Bloomington Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55407
Thursday, February 8, 2024 – 6-7:30pm

The Event

Changes to immigration policy are causing confusion and conflict—especially with the 2024 election right around the corner. But the issue isn’t just political. It’s personal. Families are stuck in a confusing system, and they want to know what’s ahead.

Sahan Journal and MPR News decided to reach out to people with real answers: community advocates, leaders, and legal experts. On February 8, we’re hosting a Sahan Community Live and North Star Journey Live event to dispel myths and misinformation and hear the impacts of our broken immigration system.

Join us for the live conversation on Thursday, February 8, at 6 p.m., in the theater of El Colegio High School, located at 4137 Bloomington Ave. in Minneapolis.

The Hosts
Angela Davis is the host of MPR News with Angela Davis, a weekday talk show that airs at 9 a.m. She joined MPR News in November 2018 after more than 25 years of television reporting and anchoring in the Twin Cities and other cities throughout the country. Davis leads conversations on a wide variety of topics including how the state is changing, Minnesota’s persistent racial disparities, economic issues, education and mental health. The program includes insight from experts and listeners who call in during the live broadcast.

Hibah Ansari is a reporter for Sahan Journal covering immigration and politics. She was named the 2022 Young Journalist of the Year by the Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists. She’s a graduate of the Columbia University School of Journalism where she received a M.S. degree in journalism as part of the Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism program. She was also a corps member of Report For America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, The Appeal, and USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin. She holds a B.A. in journalism from UW–Madison.

Our Experts
Emilia Gonzalez Avalos, Executive Director, Unidos MN

Emilia Gonzalez Avalos (She/Hers) is an immigrant born in Mexico City and raised in Minnesota. She joined her father years after he left their town looking for a better future for his family. Family separation, border consciousness and transnational economy shaped Emilia to dedicate her career to work with the low wage worker community and organize people’s power towards social, racial and economic justice.  As Executive Director, Emilia transformed Navigate MN from an undocumented student network to a statewide multi-entity Latino powerhouse in deep relationship and accountability to meatpacking, service, construction and janitorial workers and their families now known as Unidos MN. Born out of the DREAMer movement and with a tradition of youth organizing, Unidos MN continues to cultivate young people’s leadership through powerful campaigns and programs that not only aim at reducing structural harm but deploy an abundant vision for a multiracial democracy that works for everyone. Emilia is recipient of the 2022 Bush Fellowship, the 2020 Ohtli Award (an honor the Mexican Government gives to Mexican citizens living abroad), the 2017 OutFront MN Innovator Award and the 2016 MLK Distinguished Service Award by Governor Dayton’s Council on MKL. Emilia is an alumna of the Hubert H. Humphrey Public Policy Fellows Program and attends the University of St Thomas for a BA in Theology and Individualized Studies in Public Health and Finance.

 John Bruning, Supervising Litigation Attorney, The Advocates for Human Rights

John is the Supervising Litigation Attorney for the The Advocates for Human Rights’ Refugee & Immigrant Program. His work focuses on advocating for noncitizens in immigration court, before the immigration agencies, and in U.S. District Court and the Courts of Appeal. John provides direct client representation, mentors and supports volunteer attorneys, and assists practitioners. He previously taught part-time in the University of Minnesota Law School’s immigration clinics. Before joining The Advocates, John worked for several years in private practice at a small immigration firm. During law school he worked at several criminal defense organizations and spent a summer in New York, working on Alien Tort Statute litigation, cases before the International Criminal Court and the European Court of Human Rights, and litigation against the criminalization of human rights advocacy.

 Jenny Stohl Powell, Legal Director, Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota

Jennifer Stohl Powell has been the legal director at the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota (ILCM) since April 2019.  ILCM is a nonprofit agency that provides immigration legal assistance to low-income immigrants and refugees in Minnesota.  Jennifer has handled a wide range of immigration cases with a focus on cases for victims of domestic violence and violent crime.  She previously worked at Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (SMRLS) for over 20 years and supervised SMRLS’ immigration and farm worker unit for 13 years.  She is a graduate of Carleton College, the University of Minnesota Law School, and she holds a Master of Arts degree in nonprofit management from Hamline University. 

Nasra Ismail, U.S. Executive Director, Alight

Nasra Ismail is the U.S Executive Director of Alight and a member of the board for RefugePoint. At Alight, she leads a team to build and expand welcoming communities for newcomers to the United States.

With a career spanning two decades, Nasra’s journey has taken her across the globe, from leading public policy in Washington D.C. to delivering humanitarian aid in East Africa and shaping social justice movement strategy in philanthropy. A first-generation immigrant to the U.S., Nasra champions interconnected communities founded on principles of equity and inclusion, all working towards a shared future. Nasra has held distinguished leadership roles at premier organizations including the U.S Millennium Challenge Corporation, Care US, Oxfam International, Co-Impact, and GivingTuesday. She is also the founder of Generative Connections, a global consulting firm, which promotes collaboration efforts between grassroots communities – with a focus on communities of color — and policymakers to drive transformative change.

Nasra’s unique blend of experiences in humanitarian, public, and philanthropic sectors all reflect her core values, which were enriched by her personal displacement journey from Somalia. Her commitment to transformative change recently earned her the prestigious 2022 Global Leadership ICAP Aspen Fellowship, where she advises global organizations on achieving impactful, systemic transformations through reshaping power dynamics and operational paradigms. Nasra earned her bachelor’s degree from George Washington University and further honed her skills through immersive executive leadership programs at Harvard University, Oxford University, and the Univers

About The Series
North Star Journey Live (formerly known as In Focus) is a series of events that delves into questions of equity in Minnesota and doesn’t look away from our persistent racial disparities. Through live discussions with community leaders, shaped by our curious and engaged audience, we hope to encourage new connections and relationships that will help Minnesota communities make progress toward justice.

Continue these conversations and start new ones by joining our Facebook group. There we’ll be hosting chats before, after and during the live events, as well as sharing personal experiences and questions.

About Our Partner
Founded in August of 2019, Sahan Journal is a nonprofit digital newsroom dedicated to reporting for immigrants and communities of color in Minnesota. Our diverse staff creates exceptional journalism: coverage that truly represents the changing face of Minnesota and recognizes that democratic engagement and power belong to everyone.

Our stories reach audiences across many platforms, including our website, social media, video, newsletters, and community events. To reach more audiences, we share our stories with small community papers and with the state’s biggest mainstream newsrooms, in print and public radio.

Sahan Journal’s mission is to give immigrants and communities of color the kind of committed, responsive news coverage that we all deserve.

About the Venue
Founded in 2000 by a collective of teachers, El Colegio High School is a public, tuition-free charter school in the Bancroft neighborhood of south Minneapolis. We are, first and foremost, a black and brown space on indigenous Dakota land. In a neighborhood that is increasingly gentrified, our school remains a bastion of talent, culture and Latinx heritage.


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