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Current News & Announcements

IIL Board member Mary Giovagnoli, Esq. has joined the Department of Homeland Security as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Immigration Policy.

IIL Board member Adam Hunter left DHS and has joined the Pew Charitable Trusts to become the Director of the Immigration and the States Project.

Judge's ruling derails plans of immigrants seeking legal status
Pamela Constable
February 17, 2015
Washington Post

States Brace for Flood of Requests for Deportation Relief
Tim Henderson
February 11, 2015
Huffington Post

Pope: 'Inhumane' Conditions for Migrants on US-Mexico Border
Nicole Winfield
February 5, 2015
Associated Press

The Shame of America's Family Detention Camps
Wil S. Hylton
February 4, 2015

Innovative Immigration Course Trains Social Workers at the Border

Upcoming Events

Talking to America About Immigrants and Immigration: Faith Perspectives. A free online seminar on how to create welcoming communities.
February 26, 2015 at 1 pm 

Deportation: Its implication for poverty, inequality, and politics 
March 6, 2015; 4-6:30 pm
JFK Library & Museum (Smith Hall), Boston  
Please RSVP bostonevents@
by Feb. 27

Mexico City, Mexico
September 2015
20th Metropolis International Immigration Conference

Winter 2015
National Immigrant Integration Conference


Border Issue: Commentary

A page from the journal of Professor Egmont:


Kelly Morgan (BCSSW '16) studied "Services to Migrants," taught along the border between Arizona and Sonora Mexico and wrote:

"When one enters the Florence Detention Center, a Department of Homeland Security facility...orderliness of the space is striking. Air circulation and shower water temperature are regulated precisely according to national standards, crooked wall hangings are not tolerated and human beings are meticulously categorized in colored jumpsuits. The sights- barbed wire, fences, faces holding stories of sacrifice and determination - and the sounds-barked orders punctuating eerie quiet and humming generators - all convey organization, control and stress." 

Twelve students, 14 days, graves in the desert and hymns in Spanish at the Catholic Workers house, visits to officials, detention facilities, courts and churches took us to an America that is foreign to our lovely campus overlooking Boston.  The culture of the border was visible when visiting the Petersons and other ranchers who despair over the Border Patrol and the migrants as well as the loss of a way of life known for a century.  The retirees of Green Valley protest border patrol stops 25 miles inland from Mexico which interrupt their trips to the doctor. Churches organize around offering migrants sanctuary rather than their own comfortable hour of prayer.  This is a 51st state, Borderlands and it appears to operate by rules outside the Constitution since migrants are not given those inalienable rights America prizes.  Land rights are violated.  The economy swings around 20,000+ Customs and Border Patrol jobs. Consciousness of the larger world of Syria and Nigeria and the Ukraine are pushed aside by the dominance of  the 'catch and release',' bus and deport', 'streamline the detainee', activity at the heart of this world.

As with only a few places like North Korea, Palestine, Iran and the Moroccan border, Borderland inhabitants live in the shadow of a wall, America's Wall.  Theirs is no longer the social interchange of abutting cultures but the harsher distrust of the foreigner. Shared indigenous cultures are now cut off from one another; they live an anti-historical existence that denies the Bracero Program its legacy or a mixed people equal access to their extended families. 

What is lost in this America?  Who decided to give up 30 million acres to a different America?  The 1853 Gadsen Purchase bought this piece of Mexico to open our way west as an expanding country and today it is home to a fence that demarks one third of the 1,954 mile border...but it is a wall that is cut, tunneled and climbed with ladders daily.  It is an expensive symbol of frustrated politicians. What taxpayers have a say in spending $12 billion annually for the militarization of the region? (way more than is spent on the EPA or Center for Disease Control  for example)  Why are National Guard units deployed alongside the largest federal agency (DHS) as if soldiers were the answer to a non-war?  Who sees and affirms the humanity of the poor who seek asylum and opportunity?  How do these new policies get reviewed for effectiveness? Our class sat in a café in Nogales under a simple black and white picture hanging above the tables. It is the 50's and a small chain link fence with no guards or guns represents the former border. "It was a different time."  Are we able to point to how our policies built the cartels, turned smuggling into a lucrative industry and stifled a shared life in the region?

We studied a situation where success could be the measure. 350 million legal crossings of the Mexico US border happen each year.  The net migration, documented and undocumented is now at net zero. 25% of Texas and 27% of Arizona are comprised of Latino-Americans enjoying life alongside all other Americans.  The US is Mexico's largest trading partner and provides us not only flexible labor supply but the chocolate, vegetables and fruit which we depend upon. The $500 billion trade relationship binds us closer to Mexico than any country.


Why is detention the growth industry? We know the US imprisons ten times the numbers imprisoned in Europe and spends $159 per day at these prisons with thousands of migrants detained for over a year- but WHY?  Who can show this works or has assessed the losses to the Borderlands and the adjacent United States?  Social work students read the "Illegal Immigrant Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA)" and then wonder how policy is corrupted into classifying an agricultural worker returning to harvest as a criminal and detained at bond costs prohibiting the family from gaining his release or his being able to afford legal counsel. How do they express their patriotism for America when it is their country's actions that raise fundamental questions of rights and justice?


We wrestled with how America's larger interest in being "one from many"-immigrant integration- is thwarted by a political/ military culture that fosters separation, fear and harsh treatment. 

Twelve students -like a million others -see a side of America that appears overreaching, without evidence-based effective policy, functioning in ways that distort human rights and dignity.  Social workers find themselves side-by-side with environmentalists distraught at seemingly outdated, irrational policy decisions that commit crimes as great as those they seek to address.

Oh yes, and we also saw love in families trying to remain strong, compassionate Samaritans, caring ranchers and Native Americans. We saw an America we love, one that makes us proud and motivates lifetimes of addressing human needs with all the energy and intellect we can muster.  Our country needs its heart to beat strong and a heart transplant where the very life blood of America is cut off.

 Westy Egmont, Director

BCSSW Immigrant Integration Lab

This January, a group of BCSSW students had the opportunity to travel to the US-Mexico border to witness firsthand the many agencies working to assist immigrants at the border. One of these organizations was the Florence Project, a non-profit organization based in Florence, Arizona that employs a multi-disciplinary model, providing supportive social services alongside legal assistance to people in Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention in Florence and neighboring Eloy, AZ. Members of the group also had the unique opportunity to do homestays with members of Corazon de Tucson, a network that aims to protect the rights of immigrant families in southern Arizona. Corazón de Tucson does this by connecting immigrant families with each other and with the community, by educating immigrant families on their rights and providing legal, financial and social support to families impacted by detention or deportation. Also working to keep immigrant families together in the Tucson area is Southside Presbyterian Church. As part of the New Sanctuary Movement, Southside and other congregations host immigrants who are in danger of being deported, allowing them to live on site to avoid ICE detention and/or deportation. On the trip, BCSSW students had the invaluable experience of meeting members of Southside's leadership and Rosa, a woman who is living there. You can read more about the Sanctuary Movement at Southside here



Psychological and family well being of unaccompanied Mexican child migrants sent back from the U.S. border region of Sonora-Arizona.

Sotomayor-Peterson, M., & Montiel-Carbajal, M. (2014).  

Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 36(2), pp. 111-123

The literature shows that for the majority of undocumented young migrants, the journey to reunite with  their families in the United States involves long separations, emotional costs, and serious risks during traveling, as well as unsuccessful attempts of reunification.  All of these migration events can have an important impact on their psychological well-being. This study explores the familial and psychological well-being of Mexican undocumented and unaccompanied children and adolescents that are sent back through the U.S. border region of Sonora-Arizona. The results of this study suggest that children and adolescents possess good resources that allow them to cope with distress and negative effects caused by family separation, unaccompanied travel, and crossing experiences.

Read more > >



Symptoms of anxiety on both sides of the US-Mexico border: The role of immigration

Borges, G., Zamora, B., Garcia, J., Orozco, R., Cherpitel, C. J., Zemore, S. E., & Breslau, J. (2015) 

Journal of Psychiatric Research, 61, pp. 46- 51

The purpose of this study was to examine whether immigration patterns contribute to increasing levels of anxiety for the Mexican population and people of Mexican-origin who live along the U.S.-Mexico border. The authors used the U.S.-Mexico Study on Alcohol and Related Conditions (UMSARC), a cross-sectional survey of people living in border and non-border cities of the United States, to investigate the prevalence of and risk factors for anxiety symptoms along a continuum of immigration experiences in this transnational population. Their findings suggest that immigration to the United States has a profound and extensive effect on different segments of this Mexican transnational population. However, given the large differences in the prevalence of anxiety for the population of people of Mexican origin living on the U.S.-Mexico border and near the border, more complex research designs are needed to thoroughly explore the impact of immigration patterns on anxiety levels. 

Read more > > 



Everyday violence, structural racism and mistreatment at the US-Mexico border

Sabo, S., Shaw, S., Ingram, M., Teufel-Shone, N., Carvajal, S., de Zapien, J. G., Rosales, C., Redondo, F., Garcia, G., & Rubio-Goldsmith, R. (2014)

Social Science & Medicine, 109, pp. 66-74

This study examines the prevalence of and ways in which immigration enforcement policy and militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border is experienced as everyday violence. Using quantitative and qualitative data from a random household sample of U.S. citizens and permanent residents of Mexican descent in the Arizona border region, the authors documented the frequency and nature of immigration-related profiling, mistreatment, and resistance to institutionalized victimization. Their findings indicate that immigration policy enables institutional practices of discrimination such as ethno-racial profiling and mistreatment. These policies are forms of structural racism that perpetuate everyday violence and require further investigation as a public health issue.


"Is it worth risking your life?": Ethnography, risk and death on the U.S.-Mexico border

Holmes, Seth M. (2013)

Social Science & Medicine, pp. 153-161.

Migrants face numerous life threatening dangers in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. Many scholars have concluded that U.S. border policy is directly responsible for an increase in border deaths. Utilizing participant observation fieldwork, this article explores the experience of structural vulnerability and bodily health risk along the journey through the desert and into the U.S.. The ethnographer recorded interviews and conversations with undocumented immigrants crossing the border, border patrol agents, border activists, borderland residents, and armed civilian vigilantes. Field notes and interviews document the ways in which social, ethnic, and citizenship differences, as well as border policies force certain categories of people to put their bodies, health, and lives at risk. The results indicate that immigrant families are making every effort to survive, while subtly being held responsible by authorities for their predicament. The article concludes with policy implications that would make the U.S.-Mexico border migration less deadly.

Read more > >


Stress and Sociocultural Factors Related to Health Status Among US-Mexico Border Farmworkers

Carvajal, S.C.; Kibor, C.; McClelland, D.J.; Ingram, M.; Redondo, F.; Rodgriguez, K.; Rubio-Goldsmith, R.; Meister, J.; Cecilia, R. 

Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 2014, Vol.16(6), pp.1176-1182.

Aimed to extend the knowledge of risk factors relating to farmworkers health by exploring sociocultural issues, including ecologically-based stress, the authors survey under-served and vulnerable farmworkers in Yuma, AZ. This study reports on data from a population-based survey (N=299) that included qualitative and quantitative data on the health needs of farmworkers. The sample was drawn from randomly selected households of selected census blocks from communities considered low-income and located within the U.S.-Mexico border region of South Yuma County. Stress was measured through 23 items, with all but two deriving from the Border Community and Immigration Stress Scale. Findings suggest stress, measured in a new scale responsive to current geopolitical dynamics affecting the border region, is an important factor directly connected to health status of these farmworkers. Stress measured in regard to these contemporary social and ecological conditions explained the poor mental and physical health experienced by these farmworkers beyond socioeconomic, demographic, and immigration related factors. With the perhaps additionally intense effects in rural and border settings, many of these sources of stress may have negative health implications for foreign and minority low-wage workers increasingly migrating to other locations. Additionally, these findings highlight the need for preventative assessment and treatment services for farmworkers of Mexican-descent residing at the border. 






Undocumented: How Immigration Became Illegal 

by Aviva Chomsky

Beacon Press (May 13, 2014)

Immigrant rights activist Aviva Chomsky shows how "illegality" and "undocumentedness" are concepts that were created to exclude and exploit. With a focus on U.S. policy, she probes how people, especially Mexican and Central Americans, have been assigned this status-and to what ends. Blending history with human drama, Chomsky explores what it means to be undocumented within a legal, social, economic, and historical context. The result is a powerful testament of the complex, contradictory, and ever-shifting nature of status in America.

The Latino Threat: Constructing Immigrants, Citizens, and the Nation, Second Edition 

By Leo Chavez

Stanford University Press; 2 edition (April 17, 2013)

 "...The Latino Threat is accessible and essential reading for students and professionals alike, and fosters advocacy for policy change, as well as the need to understand the psychologically and emotionally damaging repercussions of structural racism and nativist discourse practices, and their effects on provision of language access, health disparities, and social services for Latino immigrants."-Catherine Carballeira, Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare

Social Justice in the U.S.-Mexico Border Region 

by Mark Lusk, Kathleen Staudt, and Eva Moya

Springer (June 13, 2012)

''Social Justice on the US Mexico Border is the most comprehensive interdisciplinary book I have encountered dealing with justice and human rights issues on the US Mexico border region. The wealth of its contents stems from its interdisciplinary analysis. This book must be read by all responsible policy makers who have the capacity to influence the living conditions of millions of people living between two cultures, two worlds and two ways of life."  --Hector Luis Diaz, Ph.D., Professor and Chair, Department of Social Work, the University of Texas - Pan American

Women and Migration in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands: A Reader (Latin America Otherwise) 

By Denise A Segura & Patricia Zavella

University Press Books (July 20, 2007)

Women's migration within Mexico and from the country to the United States is increasing; nearly as many women as men are migrating. This relatively recent development gives rise to new social negotiations, which have not been well examined in migration studies until now. This reader analyzes how economically and politically displaced migrant women assert agency in everyday life. Scholars across diverse disciplines interrogate the socioeconomic forces that propel Mexican women into the migrant stream and shape their employment options; the changes that these women are making in homes, families, and communities; and the "structural violence" that they confront in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands broadly conceived-all within the economic, social, cultural, and political interstices of the two countries.

Why Walls Won't Work: Repairing the US-Mexico Divide

by Michael Dear

Oxford University Press (February 13, 2013)

"This is an important, elegantly written volume that reflects the very hybridity it seeks to portray: it flips between Mexican origins and U.S. politics, between cultural studies and hard social science, between the personal and the analytical with a playful skill and ease that captures the very spirit of the borderlands. Dear reveals the creation of a new border culture in which blended identities and daily transnational and transcultural interactions are emerging even as the walls between our two countries continue to rise." 

--Manuel Pastor, Professor of Sociology and American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California 

Democratizing Texas Politics: Race, Identity, and Mexican American Empowerment, 1945-2002

by Benjamin Márquez

University of Texas Press (November 1, 2014)

Despite Texas's violent history of racial conflict, the state led the nation with the greatest number of Latino officeholders by the beginning of the twenty-first century. Exploring this and other seemingly contradictory realities of Texas's political landscape since World War II, Democratizing Texas Politics captures powerful, interrelated forces that drive intriguing legislative dynamics. These factors include the long history of Mexican American activism; population growth among Mexican American citizens of voting age; increased participation among women and minorities at state and national levels in the Democratic Party, beginning in the 1960s; the emergence of the Republican Party as a viable alternative for Southern conservatives; civil rights legislation; and the transition to a more representative two-party system thanks to liberal coalitions. 

Latino America: How America's Most Dynamic Population is Poised to Transform 

the Politics of the Nation

by Matt Barreto & Gary M. Segura

Public Affairs (September 30, 2014)

Latinos' optimism, strength of family, belief in the constructive role of government, and resilience have the imminent potential to reshape the political and partisan landscape for a generation and drive the outcome of elections as soon as 2016. Sometime in April 2014, somewhere in a hospital in California, a Latino child tipped the demographic scales as Latinos displaced non-Hispanic whites as the largest racial/ethnic group in the state of California. Latino America: How America's Most Dynamic Population is Poised to Transform the Politics of the Nation describes the extent to which Latinos have already transformed the US politically and socially, and how Latino Americans are the most buoyant and dynamic ethnic and racial group, often in quite counterintuitive ways. 

Border Patrol Nation: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Homeland Security

by Todd Miller

City Lights Publishers (April 8, 2014)

In fast-paced prose, Miller sounds an alarm as he chronicles the changing landscape of our borderlands. Traveling the country-and beyond-to speak with the people most involved with and impacted by the U.S. Border Patrol, the author combines first-hand encounters with careful research to expose a vast and booming industry for high-end technology, weapons, surveillance, and prisons. While politicians and corporations reap substantial profits, the experiences of millions of men, women, and children point to staggering humanitarian consequences. Border Patrol Nation shows us in stark relief how the entire country has become a militarized border zone, with consequences that may very likely affect every U.S. resident.   

Enrique's Journey 

by Sonia Nazario

Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (January 2, 2007)

Enrique's Journey recounts the unforgettable quest of a Honduran boy looking for his mother, eleven years after she is forced to leave her starving family to find work in the United States. Braving unimaginable peril, often clinging to the sides and tops of freight trains, Enrique travels through hostile worlds full of thugs, bandits, and corrupt cops. Yet, he pushes forward, relying on his wit, courage, hope, and the kindness of strangers. As Isabel Allende writes: "This is a twenty-first-century Odyssey. If you are going to read only one nonfiction book this year, it has to be this one."

EDITORS: C. Burrell, V. Corbera, W. Egmont, L. Falotico, L. Ferreira, K. Kalliontzi, J. Margolis, J. Nomeland and K. Porter