LAWRENCE — The recent surge of 52,000 women and children from Central America crossing the U.S. border with Mexico has overwhelmed U.S. immigration officials in the region. President Barack Obama on Tuesday has asked Congress to approve nearly $4 billion in emergency funding. Several University of Kansas faculty members are available to speak with media about the various policy and humanitarian issues, including human trafficking, surrounding the situation near the border.
KU is home to ASHTI, the Anti-Slavery and Human Trafficking Initiative, which is housed at the university's Institute for Policy and Social Research. Through ASHTI, multidisciplinary researchers seek to develop a prevention model to help potential trafficking victims both nationally and internationally.
Bartholomew Dean, associate professor of anthropology, can speak about the root issues behind the current influx of undocumented migrants. This includes connections to transnational criminal organizations across the Americas, especially related to the expansion of "drug networks." Dean is a political anthropologist who studies Peru and Mexico and has considerable pro bono experience in the field of immigration law in those countries. This year, he will co-direct the KU Department of Anthropology's Human Migration Series.
"In the brutal networks of exchange accompanying the 'war on drugs,' humans have become commoditized by various stakeholders in transnational criminal organizations, many with links to illicit commodity chains," Dean said. "Research in areas where state presence is minimal and all too often complicit illustrates how human traffickers operate with virtual or total impunity. In response, critical inquiry must continue on understanding the nature of sequestration, freedom and state responses to human trafficking globally, not to mention robust considerations of the ethical and practical dimensions of putatively humanitarian policy implementations."
Nazli Avdan, assistant professor of political science, is available to speak about human trafficking and the unintended consequences of border controls. Avdan's broad research focus includes international migration and international relations. She has written about issues surrounding border controls and how countries control their own visa processes.
"Draconian border controls can have the unintended consequence of emboldening the hand of organized crime through predatory trafficking and smuggling networks," Avdan said. "This stems from the vulnerability of exposed populations who have no legal means of access to more wealthy destination states. It is precisely those segments in origin countries that cannot obtain legal visas or prove eligibility for refugee status that may fall prey to these networks that promise clandestine entry into wealthier destination states."
Christina Bejarano, associate professor of political science, is available to speak about the political issues surrounding the immigration debate in Congress. She has written two books, "The Latina Advantage: Gender, Race and Political Success" and "The Latino Gender Gap in U.S. Politics." Her research focuses on the diverse viewpoints of racial and ethnic minorities and women in mainstream U.S. politics.
Ruben Flores, associate professor of American studies, can address issues related to Latin American migration to the United States and its effect on the relationship between Mexico and the United States. Flores recently finished his book "Backroads Pragmatists: Mexico's Melting Pot and Civil Rights in the United States," in which he explores the ideas of scholars who helped shape American education policy and public desegregation, particularly via their studies in Mexico and how the nation to the south integrated after the end of the Mexican Revolution in 1920.
To arrange an interview with Dean, Avdan, Bejarano or Flores, contact George Diepenbrock at firstname.lastname@example.org or 785-864-8853.