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Baruch College Associate Professor Sarah Bishop Earns Fulbright Scholar Grant



              Sarah Bishop, PhD, an associate professor at Baruch College's Weissman School of Arts and Sciences, received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Grant to focus on asylum seekers deported back to El Salvador and Guatemala, and the processes, policies, and interventions which could better offer protection.

Sarah Bishop, PhD, an associate professor at the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences, received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar grant to focus on asylum seekers deported back to El Salvador and Guatemala, and the processes, policies, and interventions which could better offer protection

Sarah Bishop, PhD, from the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences, is a recipient of a Fulbright U.S. Scholar grant, which will help support her research examining the economic, personal, and social challenges facing individuals who formerly migrated to the United States.

With this Fulbright award, Professor Bishop will interview asylum seekers sent back to El Salvador and Guatemala. She is looking to understand how communication and culture affect the asylum process, and how policy and community interventions could better protect migrants during and after the asylum process. Bishop’s grant begins in January 2021 and will last five months.

“I’m honored to be a recipient,” Bishop stated. “As soon as I got the news, I began having trouble concentrating on anything else.”

At Baruch, Bishop teaches a class on communication and migration in the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences and instructs a course on global communication for the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs.

Bishop’s Research: “Communication and Culture in the Search for Asylum”

To complete her research, “Communication and Culture in the Search for Asylum,” Bishop will collaborate with a scholar from Universidad Tecnológica de El Salvador to interview individuals denied asylum in the U.S. She will visit non-profit organizations in El Salvador and Guatemala to “learn about the challenges they face as they work to facilitate re-integration.”

Ultimately, Bishop plans to use the research she conducts during the Fulbright grant to write her third book that will pair the Salvadorian and Guatemalan returnees’ reflections with those of the asylum seekers she has already interviewed in New York who were granted asylum or are awaiting a decision in their case.

In addition to her work with asylum seekers, Bishop will lead a week-long seminar for international human rights practitioners with a nonprofit organization in El Salvador called Cristosal. Bishop will guide these practitioners in a conversation about some of the common challenges human rights advocates face, including historical dialogue about the past, and facilitating conversations between victims and perpetrators of violence about transitional justice.

A Staunch Advocate for Immigrant Rights

Bishop is an oral historian and an immigrant rights advocate. She serves on the board of directors at Mixteca Organization in Brooklyn, and through her volunteer work with New Sanctuary Coalition, Bishop has been accompanying asylum seekers to immigration court to “stand in solidarity with them” in front of the judge who decides whether they will remain in the United States or be returned to their countries of origin.

Since much of the asylum process happens behind closed doors, Bishop wanted “to ensure that migrants fleeing persecution in New York know their rights and avoid fraudulent legal advice.”

Bishop hopes by talking to the people who are in the room during these hearings, her research will show the perspective of the asylum seekers, judges and officers, reveal the major problems of asylum policy, and highlight what can be done to better protect the well-being of asylum seekers throughout the process.

“At this point, all of my research foregrounds the firsthand insights of migrants to counteract the ways their voices have been sometimes left out of research about asylum especially,” Bishop explained. “In any case where someone who has citizenship can advocate for undocumented people, refugees, or asylum seekers in the U.S., that seems more pressing now than ever.”

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(Story published on 5/1/20)

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