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Border Views: University experts help shape border debate

As Americans continue to debate immigration reform, border enforcement and Arizona’s recent legislation, UT experts offer their views on these issues through “Border Views,” a series of online videos.

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As Americans continue to debate immigration reform, border enforcement and Arizona’s recent legislation, experts from The University of Texas at Austin are offering their views on these issues through a series of online videos.

Each week, “Border Views” has showcased a different faculty member discussing such topics as the history of illegal immigration, the unusual political alliances that have developed around this debate and the media’s role in covering it.

The University of Texas at Austin has some of the leading Latin American studies scholars in the world, including law professors, political scientists and historians.

“We all know there’s a ‘crisis’ in northern Mexico, in danger of spilling over into the U.S. But beneath the often sensationalist surface, questions abound,” says Charles R. Hale, director of the university’s Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies. “What is the human rights record of the Mexican military, and how should this factor into our appraisal of that government’s war on narco-traffickers? Do the charges of racism against initiatives like that of the Arizona law and the Utah list hold up to scrutiny? What effects does the border wall have on us all?

“This series allows University of Texas at Austin scholars to share well-grounded research on such questions in hopes of generating informed debate on one of most intractable social policy issues of our times.”

The videos are available for use by educational and news Web sites. The faculty members are also available for follow-up interviews with the media.

Part 10: Martha Menchaca

Martha Menchaca, professor in the Department of Anthropology, Center for Women’s and Gender Studies and Center for Mexican American Studies, explores race and ethnicity and has written a book on naturalizing Mexican immigrants which focuses on Texas as a case study.

In three videos, Menchaca discusses her research into the trends and historical context behind naturalization and the birthright movement and her thoughts on curbing undocumented migration from Mexico to the United States.

Part 9: Terri Givens


Terri Givens



Terri Givens, associate professor in the Department of Government, studies radical right parties as well as immigration politics, security and immigrant integration in Europe.

In three videos, Givens discusses the connections between Europe’s immigration policies and those of the U.S., as well as cultural forces that drive attitudes toward immigration.

Part 8: Gary Freeman


Gary Freeman



Gary Freeman, chair of the Department of Government, studies immigration politics and policy in western democracies. He examines how immigration has profoundly shaped the national development of countries.

In three videos, Freeman discusses the problems of an immigration policy focused more on family reunification than on bringing highly skilled workers to the nation.

Part 7: John Sibley Butler


John Sibley Butler



John Sibley Butler, a management professor in the McCombs School of Business and a sociology professor in the College of Liberal Arts, is an expert in organizational behavior, entrepreneurship and new ventures. He is director of the the IC2 Institute, which is dedicated to the creation of new ventures throughout the world. Butler edited the 2009 book “An American Story: Mexican American Entrepreneurship and Wealth Creation.”

In three videos, Butler discusses immigrants’ history of self-employment in the U.S., Americans’ views on immigrant entrepreneurship and his views on citizenship and naturalization.

Part 6: Veronica Vargas Stidvent


Veronica Vargas Stidvent



Veronica Vargas Stidvent, program director and faculty member in the Department of Business, Government and Society in the McCombs School of Business, served as assistant labor secretary in the George W. Bush administration. She worked on an array of labor issues including immigration reform, worker health and safety, and job training.

In three videos, Stidvent discusses why the traditional left-right political breakdown doesn’t apply on immigration issues, the impact of undocumented workers on unemployment, and the influence and reform of birthright citizenship in U.S.

Part 5: Ricardo Ainslie


Ricardo Ainslie



Ricardo Ainslie, a professor of educational psychology, studies the effects of ethnic conflicts on communities and the psychological experiences of immigrants. He produced the documentary “Ya Basta! Kidnapped in Mexico,” which investigates a wave of kidnappings and violent crime that has plagued Mexico during the past decade.

In three videos, Ainslie discusses the psychological factors that have contributed to support for the Arizona immigration law, Mexican immigrants and the impact their departure has on Mexico, and how an ethnic shift in a West Texas town has created conflict and offered lessons.

Part 4: Barbara Hines


Barbara Hines



Barbara Hines is the director of the Immigration Clinic and a clinical professor at the School of Law. She has litigated and written about issues relating to the constitutional and statutory rights of immigrants in federal and immigration courts.

In three videos, Hines discusses the legal, economic and social problems with Arizona’s new law, the post-9/11 immigration enforcement model and her belief that we should move toward legalization and a temporary worker program.

Part 3: Madeline Hsu


Madeline Hsu



Madeline Hsu, associate professor of history and director of the Center for Asian American Studies, researches Chinese migration to North America and the intersection of immigration law and U.S. foreign policy.

In three videos, Hsu discusses Chinese immigrants and the first U.S. immigration laws, how early Chinese immigrants posed as Mexicans to enter the U.S. and how race is used to identify illegal immigrants.

Part 2: Mercedes De Uriarte


Mercedes De Uriarte



Mercedes De Uriarte, an associate professor of journalism, is a former opinion editor and staff writer at the Los Angeles Times, where she covered Latin American issues extensively. As a professor, she has developed programs to teach students to cover underrepresented communities and taught such courses as Social Justice and the Press and U.S. International Crisis Coverage.

In three videos, De Uriarte discusses Arizona’s immigration law, NAFTA’S impact on life in Mexico and the media’s shortcomings in covering the immigration debate.

Part 1: Cecilia Balli


Cecilia Balli



Cecilia Balli, an anthropology professor, studies the sexual murder of women in Ciudad Juárez, the construction of a border fence and the Mexican anti-drug campaign. She is an award-winning journalist with Texas Monthly magazine and is working on a book about the border fence in the Rio Grande Valley.

In three videos, Balli discusses the complicated relationship between the U.S. and Mexican governments and recent economic, social and political forces that have contributed to the current climate along the border.

Texas Monthly



Voices of Immigration

Go to texasmonthly.com to see a special multimedia feature that asks Texans from all walks of life how immigration affects them, listen to audio excerpts from a roundtable discussion on the hottest debate going, browse related articles from our vast archive spanning three decades, and join the discussion in our dedicated forum.

By the numbers

  • Mexican nationals legally in the U.S.: 1,850,000
  • Undocumented Mexican workers in the U.S.: 7,602,000 (estimated)
  • Undocumented immigrants deported each year: 350,000 (in 2009)
  • Length of U.S.-Mexico border: 1,969 miles
  • Number of legal crossing points along the border: 42
  • Yearly federal budget for border enforcement: $55,115,227
  • Yearly economic contributions by immigrants to U.S. economy: $37 billion (estimated)
  • Yearly remittances sent by workers back to Mexico each year: $23 billion (estimated)

Sources: ICE, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Department of Homeland Security, President’s Council of Economic Advisors, Pew Hispanic Center


“Border Views” identity graphics:

  • Suloni Robertson, Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services, College of Liberal Arts

Photos for “Border Views” promo graphics:

Faculty photos: