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WATCH: Mark Hetfield Moderates Refugee Panel at Halifax Forum

Nov 20, 2018

Blog Post

Bill Swersey - Senior Director, Communications and Digital Media


Each year at the Halifax International Security Forum in Nova Scotia, Canada, leaders from civic society gather for three days to discuss strengthening strategic cooperation among democracies with the goal of increasing global security and prosperity.

At this year’s forum, HIAS President and CEO Mark Hetfield moderated a discussion on global migration and the refugee crisis. Panelists, including U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Cindy McCain, wife of the late Senator John McCain, spoke about the need to find permanent commitments and also the danger of increasing fear-mongering vilifying migrant populations around the world.

Sen. Kaine also spoke out against the United States not participating in the global compact on migration.

“We were the first nation that said we wouldn’t even be at the table to talk to other nations of the world about a non-binding, voluntary set of best practices for dealing with migrants and refugees,” he said.

Kaine also emphatically noted the importance of addressing root causes before they become problems in Central America.

“If you slash the monies for security assistance, if you slash the monies for economic development, you can’t be surprised when people flee violent neighborhoods and they come to a place where they think they’ll be safer,” he said. “We’re going to be spending so much more money at the border than if we hadn’t slashed the development money into Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.”

Earlier in the day, the Forum awarded the inaugural John McCain Prize for Leadership in Public Service to the people of the Greek island of Lesvos for their outstanding efforts in supporting refugees. The prize was presented by Cindy McCain.