UT Faculty Experts Offer Insight on Immigration and the Border Crisis

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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.

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).

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