Congress and the White House are wrestling over the humanitarian crisis evolving along the nation's border, where more than 50,000 unaccompanied immigrant children have been caught since October 2013. When President Obama visited Texas in 2013, he did not the Texas-Mexico border, causing controversy. Reporters turned to SMU for expert commentary on the humanitarian, legal and moral issues in play. Following is a list of SMU experts by subject. Contact SMU News & Communications at email@example.com or 214-768-7650 for interviews.
Cal Jillson: "While illegal crossings of our southern border are way down over the last six or eight years, the rapidly growing numbers of unaccompanied Central American minors arriving in South Texas has brought immigration issues back to the fore. Unfortunately, rather than spurring new policy initiatives, it has highlighted the inability of our national politics to overcome partisan polarization . . ."
Matthew Wilson: "This crisis, in addition to being a humanitarian catastrophe, poses tough political risks for everyone involved. President Obama’s approval ratings are already low, and this seems like just one more crisis that he is unwilling or unable to handle effectively. Moreover, it potentially energizes a hard-core anti-immigration movement that had become less publicly prominent . . . "
James F. Hollifield: “The crisis of unaccompanied alien children is a crisis of our own making and sending the Texas National Guard to the border will not help. We desperately need immigration reform to allow more people to live and work legally in the United States and to allow families to come together. . .”
Robert Lawson: “There is a lot of worry that more immigration will put excessive pressure on the welfare state driving up government spending and taxation. Using data for over 100 countries, we find that higher levels of immigration actually tend to result in less government spending. . .”
Sarah Feuerbacher: "Without a united invested interest and effort towards a comprehensive plan, we will all be affected in our financial well-being, economic future, political landscape, and access to current services, not to mention the moral debate that is at hand. If we can define the issue appropriately and accurately while using our available resources, we can have international implications . . ."
Faith Nibbs: "It is a humanitarian crisis because of the reasons that they're fleeing and because there's such large numbers and because it becomes a convoluted mix of people who pick up on that trail along the way. It also becomes a border security crisis. It's a matter of letting the system play out that will separate the two . . ."
George A. Martinez: A member of Phi Beta Kappa, Martinez’ legal expertise has focused on Latino civil rights, bilingual education, diversity, assimilation and the law and the Mexican-American litigation experience. He is the author of A Reader on Race, Civil Rights and American Law: A Multiracial Approach.
Harold J. Recinos: "The great mystery missed by those who insist on turning away unaccompanied minors crossing the border is that God is already bound up with their lives and inviting American society to generous self-offering. The offer of food and shelter to children coming from Central America that are defenseless against abuse and hardship is an act of welcome and care . . . "
Rick Halperin: “Our country has a legal and moral responsibility to not send immigrants back to their country of origin, where they face repression or death. It’s not the emotional answer people feel we have to have, but that is our obligation . . .”
Roberto Corona: As community outreach coordinator for SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program, he primarily focuses on issues of migration and poverty, including challenges faced by day laborers. A native of Michoacan, Mexico, he is president and founder of Pueblo Sin Fronteras, an organization dedicated to immigrants’ community empowerment.
Human Trafficking/Border Security
Jim Walters: Assistant police chief at SMU, he is Southern Border Liaison for the U.S. Department of Justice. He coordinates the work of SMU professors and students to provide human trafficking-related research for the DOJ and helps provide training in trafficking awareness and recovery practices to law enforcement personnel and communities in the U.S. and Mexico.