UT Faculty Experts Offer Insight on Immigration and the Border Crisis

July 25, 2014

Although immigration and border security issues have been heavily debated for years, the debate about U.S. policy and the current border crisis has dominated the media landscape in recent weeks, especially in Texas. Experts from across all disciplines at The University of Texas at Austin are poised to share their insights on a variety of topics related to the immigration debate and are available to speak with the media. 

Immigration Policy & Culture

Denise Gilman
Co-Director of the Immigration Clinic and Clinical Professor of Law
Gilman is co-director of The University of Texas School of Law’s Immigration Clinic, which has clients from all over the world. Gilman has written and practiced law extensively in the international human rights and immigrants’ rights fields. Her areas of expertise include immigration, immigrants’ rights, civil rights advocacy and human rights advocacy. Prior to joining the UT Law faculty, she was director of the Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project at the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs from 2000 to 2005. Gilman is also a faculty member at the university’s Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies. Available for interviews in English and Spanish.

Barbara Hines
Co-Director of the Immigration Clinic and Clinical Professor of Law
Hines is co-director of The University of Texas School of Law’s Immigration Clinic and has practiced in the field of immigration law since 1975. Previously, Hines served as the first co-director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law of the Texas Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project. She has litigated many issues relating to the constitutional and statutory rights of immigrants in federal and immigration courts including the lawsuit leading to the closure of the controversial T. Don Hutto Detention Center. She frequently comments and publishes on topics related to immigration law and immigrants’ rights. Hines is also a faculty member at the university’s Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies.

Victoria DeFrancesco Soto
Adjunct Professor of Public Affairs
DeFrancesco Soto’s research analyzes how social identities shape political behavior. Her academic expertise centers on campaigns and elections, political marketing, women, race and ethnic politics, and immigration. DeFrancesco Soto is a contributor to MSNBC and NBC Latino, where her weekly political opinion column appears. She is also a regular political analyst for Telemundo. Available for Spanish language and print only.

Néstor Rodriguez
Professor of Sociology
Rodriguez is an expert on immigration reform, U.S. deportations to Mexico and Central America, the unauthorized migration of unaccompanied minors, evolving relations between Latinos and African Americans/Asian Americans, and ethical and human rights issues of border enforcement. Available for interviews in English and Spanish.

Gary Freeman
Professor of Government
Freeman specializes in the politics of immigration and comparative social policy. His most recent writing has been directed at understanding the form of immigration politics in different countries and explaining the integration strategies employed by countries as they grapple with immigrant populations. He is currently working on the question of the linkage between immigration and the welfare state, especially the impact of ethnic and other forms of diversity on the solidaristic foundations of social policies.

Martha Menchaca
Professor of Anthropology
512-288-1952 (home), 512-471-7537 (office)
Menchaca studies the naturalization process of Mexican immigrants and challenges for immigrant populations in the United States. Research areas include social anthropology, ethnicity, gender, oral history/oral traditions, legal anthropology, immigration, Chicano studies, U.S./Mexican culture and Latin America.

Harel Shapira
Assistant Professor of Sociology
Shapira is an ethnographer who writes about political identity with an emphasis on right-wing politics in the United States. His book, "Waiting for José: The Minutemen’s Pursuit of America," examines the civilian volunteers who patrol the U.S. /Mexico border. He is available to discuss civilian-led movements against illegal immigration at the Mexican border. Not available for local TV interviews.

Jim Henson
Director of the Texas Politics Project; Lecturer of Government
Henson researches Texas and U.S. politics, and the political impact of the policy decisions. He is available to discuss topics relating to Texas immigration reform.

Terri Givens
Associate Professor of Government
Immigration Texas blog: http://www.immigrationtexas.org/
Givens' research interests include radical-right parties, immigration politics, immigration and security. She is available to address a broad range of issues relating to immigration reform.

Christopher Salas-Wright
Assistant Professor of Social Work
Salas-Wright studies the relationship between immigration, acculturation, and problem behaviors such as substance use, violence, and crime. Additionally, he has carried out numerous studies of at-risk and gang-involved youth in San Salvador, El Salvador. Prior to his graduate studies, Salas-Wright lived in El Salvador for several years where he worked in the fields of youth development, addictions treatment, and international higher education.
Recent op-ed: Perception may be Reality, but Reality is Immigrants are Less Likely to Engage in Problem Behavior

Madeline Hsu
Associate Professor of History
Director of the Center for Asian American Studies
Hsu has extensive research and professional affiliations in migration studies. In an upcoming book titled, “The Good Immigrants: How the Yellow Peril Became the Model Minority,” Hsu explores a century of Chinese migrations and considers immigration from the perspective of Chinese elites who gained entrance because of immigration exemptions. She can speak about U.S. immigration history and policy.

Immigration and the Media

Donna DeCesare
Associate Professor of Communication
An award-winning photographer, videographer and journalist with a focus on Latin American issues, DeCesare is perhaps most widely known for her groundbreaking reporting on the spread of Los Angeles gangs in Central America. Her book, “Unsettled/Desasosiego: Children in a World of Gangs/Los niños en un mundo de las pandillas,” uncovers the effects of decades of war and gang violence on the lives of youths in Central America and U.S. refugee communities.

Madhavi Mallapragada
Assistant Professor of Radio-Television-Film
Mallapragada’s research and teaching interests include new media studies, immigrant media and cultures, Asian American studies and media industry studies. She is the author of “Virtual Homelands: Indian Immigrants and Online Cultures in the United States” (University of Illinois Press, 2014). She is currently working on a book that examines how African American, Latino and Asian American consumers and markets are transforming U.S. media industries.

Joe Straubhaar
Professor of Radio-Television-Film
Straubhaar’s research focuses on migration and media use, barriers to immigrants learning about the Internet and other new technologies and Austin technology instruction programs focused on immigrants. His book, “Inequity in the Technopolis: Race, Class, Gender, and the Digital Divide in Austin,” studies the effects of national, state and local programs that address the digital divide and digital inclusion in Austin.

Immigration and Education

Luis Zayas
Dean of the School of Social Work
Zayas studies the plight of citizen-children whose parents are being deported. Through funding from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, he is examining the effects of deportation on the psychosocial functioning of U.S.-born citizen-children of undocumented Mexican immigrants.

Angela Valenzuela
Professor of Education
Valenzuela is a professor in the Educational Policy and Planning Program within the Department of Educational Administration as well as the Cultural Studies in Education Program within the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. She also serves as director of the Texas Center for Education Policy and is the new director for the National Latino Education Research Agenda Project. As a Fulbright Scholar, she conducted research in the areas of immigration, human rights and binational relations. Her research interests are the sociology of education, education reform, and how education policy affects minority students.

Jennifer Adair
Assistant Professor of Education
Adair’s focus is on the experiences in the U.S. education system of children and families from immigrant communities. She is currently researching how the social and academic development of Latino immigrant children can be improved through project-based instruction and by giving the children more autonomy and choice in the early grades.

Luis Urrieta Jr.
Associate Professor of Education
Urrieta is in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction’s Cultural Studies in Education program and is affiliated with the Center for Mexican American Studies and Native American and Indigenous Studies Program. His research focuses on the ways that immigrant children access education, activism in education on behalf of immigrant children, racism in education, and cultural and racial identities. Urrieta is an expert on cultural and racial identities, social movements related to education, and learning in family and community contexts.

Ricardo Ainslie
Professor of Educational Psychology
Ainslie is an expert on the psychological experience of immigration, ethnic conflicts within communities and the relationship between individual and collective identity. Most recently, he studied the impact of the 1998 killing of James Byrd Jr. in Jasper, Texas, on that community. Issues of race, community and identity also have been explored by Ainslie through documentary film and photographic exhibits.

Rebecca Torres
Professor of Geography and the Environment; Women’s and Gender Studies
Torres studies transnational migration and rural restructuring; agricultural change; and the intersection between tourism, poverty and development.

Cecilia Ballí
Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Ballí studies U.S.-Mexican borderlands, gender and violence, Latino expressive culture and narrative writing.

John S. Butler
Professor of Management
Butler’s research is in the areas of organizational behavior, entrepreneurship and new ventures. His books include “Entrepreneurship and Self-Help Among Black America: A Reconsideration of Race and Economics,” “All That We Can Be: Black Leadership and Racial Integration the Army Way” with co-author Charles C. Moskos, and “Immigration and Minority Entrepreneurship: The Continuous Rebirth of American Communities” with co-author George Kozmetsky (forthcoming).

For more information, contact: University Communications, Office of the President, 512 471 3151.

1 Comment to "UT Faculty Experts Offer Insight on Immigration and the Border Crisis"

1.  Maria Alba said on Aug. 13, 2014

I am a senior student writing my senior thesis on the Dream Act and whether or not the U.S Congress should pass it. I am in need of an opponent or someone who believes that more border security and enforcement is needed. Would anyone from your office be able to help me out?