University of Texas at Austin Experts Help Shape Border Debate

July 19, 2010

AUSTIN, Texas — As Americans continue to debate immigration reform, border enforcement and Arizona's recent legislation, experts from The University of Texas at Austin are offering their views on these issues through a series of online videos.

Each week, "Border Views" will showcase a different faculty member discussing such topics as the history of illegal immigration, the unusual political alliances that have developed around this debate and the media's role in covering it.

Anthropology Professor Cecilia Balli is the first faculty member featured. Balli is also an award-winning journalist with Texas Monthly magazine and is working on a nonfiction book about the murder of young women in Juárez, Mexico.

In the videos, Balli discusses the complicated relationship between the U.S. and Mexican governments and recent economic, social and political forces that have contributed to the current climate along the border.

The University of Texas at Austin has some of the leading Latin American studies scholars in the world. Videos featuring additional faculty members — including law professors, political scientists and historians — will be released each week through the November elections.

"We all know there's a 'crisis' in northern Mexico, in danger of spilling over into the U.S. But beneath the often sensationalist surface, questions abound," says Charles R. Hale, director of the university's Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies. "What is the human rights record of the Mexican military, and how should this factor into our appraisal of that government's war on narco-traffickers?  Do the charges of racism against initiatives like that of the Arizona law and the Utah list hold up to scrutiny? What effects does the border wall have on us all?

"This series allows University of Texas at Austin scholars to share well-grounded research on such questions in hopes of generating informed debate on one of most intractable social policy issues of our times."

The videos are available for use by educational and news Web sites. The faculty members are also available for follow-up interviews with the media.

For more information, contact: Gary Susswein, Office of the President, 512-471-4945.