Roundup: International Migrants Day

Today is International Migrants Day, a day appointed by the UN and recognized around the world as an opportunity to disseminate information about the human rights and political freedoms of migrants. It is also a day to celebrate societal contributions made by migrants, to share experiences, and to strategize ways to ensure protection of human rights.

Wikipedia is a powerful tool in this conversation. It is the most visited online encyclopedia in the world, and is constantly changing to reflect the latest knowledge. At Wiki Education, we’re committed to training students to contribute to this great resource, and to evaluate its information for accuracy. In today’s roundup, we’re highlighting two courses from this year that have edited topics on migration: Jennie Burnet’s Spring 2017 course at Georgia State University, Refugees and Forced Migration, and Benjamin Karney’s psychology course at UCLA this fall.

A student at Georgia State University expanded the article on refugee law. Refugee law in the United States originates from the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol relating to refugee status, as do many such refugee laws internationally. Refugee law is different, though, in each country around the world. The United States is unique in that much of current refugee policy stems from post-WWII settlement of Indochinese refugees. This sudden influx brought about the Refugee Act of 1980, which lays out specific qualifications for being considered a refugee in the U.S. and is still used today. At the basis of refugee law is the commitment to human rights worldwide. Refugee law assumes that all individuals have a right to “freedom from torture or degrading treatment” ; “freedom of opinion and expression” ; “freedom of thought, conscience, and religion” ; “life, liberty, and security” ; and “freedom from discrimination.” Other students in the course expanded the refugee article on Wikipedia by 19,552 characters, or approximately 9,750 words. The article has since been viewed 260,026 times.

Another student in Jennie Burnet’s course expanded the article on sanctuary cities. A sanctuary city is a city in Canada or the United States that limits cooperation with the government in enforcing immigration law. According to the article, “leaders of sanctuary cities want to reduce the fear of deportation and possible family break-up among people who are in the country illegally so that such people will be more willing to report crimes, use health and social services, and enroll their children in school.” Sanctuary cities have a positive effect on the well-being of undocumented immigrants, as a 2010 study in the Journal of Economics and Finance shows. Since this student contributed to this article, it has been viewed on Wikipedia 614,867 times.

One student in Benjamin Karney’s UCLA course significantly expanded the Wikipedia article on the immigrant paradox. First-generation immigrants face many challenges as they establish themselves in a new society. But they often have better health and educational attainment, and are less likely to commit crime than non–immigrants, second–generation immigrants, and even older, established first–generation immigrants. This is the phenomenon known as the immigrant paradox. The student also included mention of the immigrant paradox among refugee populations, where refugees are “at least three times less likely to engage in substance use than non-immigrants.” Since this student expanded the article, adding 50,967 characters, it has been viewed 14,702 times.

Students’ work has a huge audience and tremendous impact with a Wikipedia assignment. If you are interested in teaching with Wikipedia or learning more, visit or reach out to us at

Image: File:Portrait of Refugee, Paris 2009 A.jpgAlex ProimosCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.


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