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‘Migration Matters’ series at SMU aims to expand perspectives on border issues


The following ran in the Jan. 27, 2012, edition of the Dallas Morning News. Jayson Gonzalez Sae-Saue, English professor, provided expertise for this story.

February 23, 2012

By Mercedes Olvera

In this era of social media and a 24/7 news cycle, it’s gotten easier to reduce the issue of immigration to stereotypes, emotional sound bites and urban legends.

It’s far more difficult to have a reasoned discussion with thoughtful analysis in a room with scholars, artists and law enforcement officials. But that’s what organizers hope will happen during a seven-part series of free lectures at Southern Methodist University this semester.

The public forum, “Migration Matters: An Interdisciplinary Program on Immigration at the U.S.-Mexico Border,” kicked off this week with Luis Urrea, author of The Devil’s Highway — a true and tragic account of 26 men trying to cross into the U.S. through southern Arizona’s desert.

A similar discussion will take place Feb. 9, with “The Route of Death: Migrants, Massacres and Cartels.” The discussion will feature a screening of Una Ruta Nada Santa (An Unholy Road), the story of two survivors of a drug cartel’s massacre of 72 undocumented workers on a bus bound for the U.S.

After the screening, a panel discussion will feature the film’s cinematographer and reporter, Moisés Gómez; its director, Hector Hugo Jiménez; and SMU Assistant Police Chief Jim Walters, who worked on the case as director of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Southern Border Initiative.

Information on the schedule and speakers can be found at

Jason Gonzales Sae-Saue, SMU professor of English and the event’s coordinator, said Urrea and other speakers help to highlight the complicated social, cultural and economic forces at work along the border — the main goal of the organizers.

“It’s troubling that we’re not talking about all these issues when we talk about immigration,” he said. “Usually, it’s reduced to dollars and cents. But we’re also dealing with humanitarian and social issues, such as violence and exploitation.

“How can we resolve the complex issues of our society if we can’t even talk about it?”...