George Diepenbrock
KU News Service

Media advisory: KU experts available to discuss immigration issues

Wed, 07/09/2014

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 or 785-864-8853.

With graduation just a few months away, James Robert Wilson, senior in sport management, took this photo of the Memorial Campanile while looking forward to KU commencement traditions. After walking through the campanile and down the Hill in May, Wilson plans to take a summer road trip, then pursue a master’s degree and help coach track and field. Wilson, who is from Abilene, Kansas, says, "Coming to KU has put me in contact with people from all over the world and opened my eyes to many new cultures.” His advice to all Jayhawks: "Make the most of your time here by trying new things.” Our advice to graduating Jayhawks: Enjoy your last semester. Where will your time at KU take you? Tags: #exploreKU #Graduation University of Kansas School of Education

Seniors - what are your thoughts on graduating? #exploreKU and reflect with @Jimjam _KU.
KU welcomes President Obama Jan. 22, 2015, was a historic day on the Hill: President Barack Obama visited the University of Kansas campus (, the first sitting president to do so in a century. More than 7,000 people — including many students and faculty who had spent hours in line to get tickets for the event — packed inside KU’s Anschutz Sports Pavilion to hear the president speak. Welcomed by Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little with “Barack Chalk, Jayhawk!” Obama told the gathering “I’m a Kansas guy,” because his mother was from Wichita and grandparents were from Augusta and El Dorado. In his 35-minute talk, the president discussed themes (see official White House transcript from his 2015 State of the Union address, including his goal to lower the cost of attending college.

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