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Three MPI Leaders to Receive Prestigious Ellis Island Medals of Honor
Press Release
Friday, May 13, 2022

Three MPI Leaders to Receive Prestigious Ellis Island Medals of Honor

WASHINGTON — In recognition of their accomplishments in the immigration policymaking field and their exemplary service to society, Migration Policy Institute (MPI) Directors Doris Meissner and Margie McHugh will receive the 2022 Ellis Island Medal of Honor during a ceremony hosted Saturday by the Ellis Island Honors Society. During the ceremony, McHugh also will accept the Medal of Honor that her late husband, MPI founding President Demetrios G. Papademetriou, was scheduled to receive in 2020 but could not as the 2020 and 2021 ceremonies were postponed due to the pandemic.

The Ellis Island Honors Society awards the medal to celebrate “inspiring Americans who are selflessly working for the betterment of our country and its citizens.” The Honors Society describes medal recipients as the “best of America in their celebration of patriotism, diversity and the contributions immigrants continue to make to our nation’s economic and social success.” Among past recipients are eight U.S. presidents, including Ronald Reagan and Joe Biden; tech CEOs John Sculley of Apple and Eric Schmidt of Google; Nobel Prize laureates Elie Wiesel and Malala Yousafzai and other distinguished leaders in government, business, the arts and civic life.

“These medals represent a tribute to the important and essential work that Doris, Margie and Demetri have done throughout their careers to advance policies, programs and initiatives that make immigration work for not only immigrants but for their receiving communities and countries of origin,” said James W. Ziglar, a member of the Honors Society’s Advisory Committee, and a former member and chairman of the MPI Board of Trustees.

“I could not be prouder that Doris, Margie and Demetri are being recognized with this prestigious award,” added Ziglar, who was a 2018 medallist. “It speaks to the significant and meaningful impact they have had, and will long continue to have, in making the American Dream a reality for immigrants and native-born Americans alike.”

Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who is a partner at Paul, Weiss LLP and co-chair of MPI’s Advisory Board, also is being recognized with a 2022 Medal of Honor.

The Ellis Island Medals of Honor ceremony, with medals bestowed on about 100 individuals, will be held Saturday at the Ellis Island Great Hall. Congress has officially recognized the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and each year the recipients are listed in the Congressional Record. For more about the ceremony and the medals, click here.

About the MPI recipients of the Medal of Honor:

Doris Meissner: Director of MPI’s U.S. Immigration Policy Program, Meissner has played a significant role in U.S. immigration policymaking since the 1970s, first at the Justice Department then as a senior leader and ultimately commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), which she led from 1993-2000. Her accomplishments included reforming the nation's asylum system; creating new strategies for managing U.S. borders; improving naturalization and other services for immigrants; strengthening cooperation and joint initiatives with Mexico, Canada and other countries; and managing growth that doubled the number of INS personnel and tripled the agency’s budget. Presently, the Rethinking U.S. Immigration Policy Initiative she leads at MPI has proposed a range of pragmatic reforms to improve the U.S. legal immigration, enforcement and asylum systems.

Margie McHugh: Director of MPI’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy, McHugh is a national expert and leader in advancing policies and programs that support the civic and economic integration of immigrants and lift the educational trajectories of their children. The long-time executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition before coming to MPI, McHugh focuses on education quality and access issues from early childhood through K-12, adult, postsecondary and workforce skills programs. She also leads the center’s work seeking coordinated federal responses to integration needs and impacts, and better systems for recognizing the education and work experience immigrants bring to the United States.

Demetrios G. Papademetriou: One of the world’s leading immigration scholars and an advisor on migration and integration issues to countless senior government and political officials, international organizations and philanthropies in the United States and other countries, Papademetriou was founding president of MPI and subsequently its Brussels-based sister organization, Migration Policy Institute Europe. Until his death in January 2022, Papademetriou was a distinguished transatlantic fellow at MPI, which he led as its first president until 2014 and where he remained president emeritus and convenor of the Transatlantic Council on Migration. He was a pioneer in the study of migration on a comparative level and a leading architect of the modern international migration system.