USD to Honor Border Angels Founder with Alumni of Year Award

Human rights activist Enrique Morones wil be honored by the University of
San Diego on April 27, 2013. Morones is the founder and president of Border Angels, whose volunteers work to save the lives of individuals crossing the mountains and deserts along
the U.S.-Mexico border. At hundreds of rescue stations, the group provides
food, water and clothing to help those facing the extreme heat and cold in
those areas.

Morones, who earned a master’s degree in executive leadership from USD in
2002, will receive the Bishop Charles Francis Buddy Award for Contributions
to Humanitarian Causes.

“Enrique is a ‘changemaker’ who has used the knowledge and leadership skills
he acquired at USD to save lives and help make the world a better place,”
said USD President Mary Lyons. “He exemplifies USD’s mission of excellence
and service and we are very proud to honor him.”

Morones was also the first person to create and direct a Latino marketing
department in major league sports as the vice president of Latino marketing
for the San Diego Padres between 1995 and 2001. He also served as president
of the San Diego County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce from 1996 to 1998. In
2009 he became the first U.S.-born man to receive Mexico’s National Human
Rights Award.

Morones lives in downtown San Diego.

The 18th Annual Alumni Honors celebration on April 27 will recognize nine
outstanding University of San Diego alumni for career achievement,
contributions to humanitarian causes, extraordinary athletic success and
exemplary service to USD. The cocktail-attire event begins at 6 p.m. with
the awards ceremony in the Joan B. Kroc Institute of Peace & Justice,
followed by a gourmet soiree and live music under the stars. Tickets are $75
per person and can be purchased at or by
calling (619) 260-7889.

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Centro de la Cultura de la Raza and SAME present “LGBT Immigrants, Asylees, and Refugee Seekers Explore Emerging Issues”

10/01/12 (written by mayaaw) – On Saturday, September 29, the Centro de la Cultura de la Raza and the San Diego Alliance and Marriage Equality (SAME) hosted an event titled “LGBT Immigrants, Asylees, and Refugee Seekers Explore Emerging Issues.” The event, held at the Centro de la Cultura de la Raza in Balboa Park, was an open discussion about topics that affect both persons belonging to the LGBT community and/or migrant population, specifically focusing on legislation that has wide-ranging effects on such populations, like the the Defense of Marriage Act.

Ginger Jacobs, a lawyer at Jacobs and Schlesinger, LLC, who works primarily with immigration law, led the discussion. Jacobs highlighted the many intersections between LGBT and immigration policies, especially where the definitions of marriage meet definitions of citizenship. Also present was a representative from SAME, who shared stories of struggles endured by people from the San Diego area who fall into both the LGBT and immigrant categories.

The Trans-Border Institute was able to participate in the event to provide information about its work with migrant communities in the area. Also in attendance was the Immigration Justice Project of San Diego, which provides pro bono legal counsel to immigrants who need assistance navigating the citizenship process. Local artists used the opportunity to showcase their artwork depicting LGBT and migrant identities. For more information, click here. 

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Thousands of undocumented migrants seize opportunity to apply for DACA

09/26/12 (written by maritza313) – A stark difference exists between the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the latter which has been implemented in lieu of the DREAM Act while it sits stalled in Congress. The main objective of the DREAM Act is to provide immigrants who first qualify under DACA with better opportunities, such as the possibility to remain in the United States, achieve higher education, and have better jobs. On the other hand, as stated by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, “the deferred action does not provide lawful status or a pathway to citizenship, while individuals who would qualify for the DREAM Act deserve certainty about their status. Only Congress, acting through its legislative authority, can confer the certainty that comes with a pathway to permanent lawful status.” Instead, DACA “allows young illegal immigrants who entered the United States before their sixteenth birthday to apply for a two-year deportation deferment,” reports Latinos Post. As well, it “grants those accepted work permits for two years.”

According to the Pew Hispanic Center and the New York Times, there are approximately 1.7 million undocumented minors that could become beneficiaries of the DREAM Act as it encourages them to first apply for deferred action, a step that could ultimately help lead them to pursue higher education and achieve employment authorization documents. The Immigration Policy Center stated that about 68% of undocumented immigrants that qualify for DACA are Mexican and currently reside in large immigrant‑receiving states, such as California and Texas. In just over a month since the government has been accepting applicants under DACA, over 72,000 applications have already been received, a number of which already approved.

In promotion of DACA and the DREAM Act, one young, undocumented migrant, Benita Veliz (27), a leader of a group called the Dreamers, spoke at the recent Democratic National Convention on September 5. Veliz took the stage and delivered a speech that was arguably “the highest profile public appearance to date by an immigrant from that movement,” reported the NYT, “and it was a measure of how young people have emerged from the shadows despite their illegal status.” Stated Veliz, “I was brought here as a child. I’ve been here ever since,” she said. “I graduated as valedictorian of my class at the age of 16 and earned a double major at the age of 20. I know I have something to contribute to my economy and my country.”

The Immigration Policy Center reiterated the benefits of the deferred action program on the country as a whole, not just for individuals, citing that accepted applicants will mean more taxable income as their access to higher education should result in better paying jobs. In turn, the more income earned, the more it “encourages [accepted applicants] to invest…in their own education, open bank accounts, buy homes, and start businesses.” As a result, DACA could provide more purchasing power for immigrants and thus provide a boost to the economy.

For more information on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, click here to access Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Frequently Asked Questions page.


“Economic Benefits of Granting Deferred Action to Unauthorized Immigrants Brought to U.S. as Youth.” Immigration Policy Center. June 22, 2012.

Passel, Jeffrey and Mark Hugo Lopez. “Up to 1.7 Million Unauthorized Immigrant Youth May Benefit from New Deportation Rules.” Pew Hispanic Center. August 14, 2012.

Preston, Julia. “A ‘Dreamer’ Addresses the Democratic Convention.” New York Times. September 6, 2012.

Rojas, Nicole. “DACA Applications 2012: First Wave of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Applications Approved.” Latinos Post. September 12, 2012.

“Frequently Asked Questions.” U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. September 14, 2012.

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Mexico Mourns Loss of Senator, Secretary of Public Education

Senator Alonso Lujambrio, pictured here, passed away early this morning after a year long battle with cancer. Lujambrio had a decorated career in public service, including roles with IFE, IFAI, and as Secretary of Public Education. Photo: El Economista

09/25/12 – Alonso Lujambio, a Mexican senator who also served as Secretary of Public Education (Secretario de Educación Pública) under President Felipe Calderón’s administration, passed away on Tuesday, September 25, 2012. Diagnosed in November 2011, Lujambio battled bone marrow cancer for almost a year, seeking treatment in the United States for three months and taking a leave of absence from his government duties. In addition to the ongoing vigil being held in his honor in Mexico City, he was remembered today with a mass in the Lorraine del Panteón Francés chapel in Mexico City, as well as an homage held in the Senate chambers. Lujambio had just turned 50 in early September.

Although passing away at an early age, Lujambio was a well-accomplished politician who was preparing to run for president under the National Action Party (Partido de Acción Nacional, PAN) before he was diagnosed last year. Many remember Lujambio for his former role as Secretary of Public Education, a position in which he actively pushed to improve the quality of education in Mexico. He implemented several programs in order to encourage participation among parents and students in their schools, passed reforms to increase the distribution of scholarships and grants to students so they could continue their education, and increased teacher evaluations to help streamline and standardize academic content throughout the nation.

In addition to serving as a senator and secretary, according to a profile provided by El Universal, Lujambio also belonged to the General Council of the Federal Electoral Institute (Consejo General del Instituto Federal Electoral, IFE) in the 1997, 2000, and 2003 elections; as commissioner for the Federal Institute for Access to Information (Instituto Federal de Acceso a la Información, IFAI) from 2005 to 2009; as an advisor to the United Nations, a role in which he specifically worked on establishing elections in Iraq; and as a professor for more than 20 years at institutes including the Ibero-American University (UIA), the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), and the Autonomous Institute of Technology of Mexico (ITAM), the latter where he received his Bachelor’s degree in political science before obtaining a Master’s at Yale University.

Among the nationwide outpouring of support in remembrance of Lujambio was President Calderón, a close friend of the senator, who tweeted, “Rest in peace, dear Alonso. We will very much miss you. We will follow your example of sensitivity, joy, honesty, patriotism and love of life.” Secretary of the Interior Alejandro Poiré also added, “More than anyone else, he was always an example of courage and love for Mexico, and of service [to his country].”


Figueroa, Héctor. “Velan familiares y amigos a Lujambio en el Panteón Francés.” Excélsior. September 25, 2012.

Jiménez, Horacio and Nurit Martínez. “Ofician misa de cuerpo presente a Alonso Lujambio.” El Universal. September 25, 2012.

“Mexican Senator Loses Battle with Cancer.” Latin American Herald Tribune. September 25, 2012.

Redacción. “Perfil Alonso Lujambio Irazábal.” El Universal. September 25, 2012.

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Event Summary: U.S.-Mexico Border Economy in 2012

Dr. Alejandro Diaz-Bautista (center) fields questions from the audience with Dr. David Shirk (left) and Dr. Stephen Conroy (right) following his presentation on the U.S.-Mexico border economy. Photo: TBI

09/21/12 (written by lquezada) – On September 18, 2012, the Trans-Border Institute and the Center for Peace and Commerce hosted a border breakfast roundtable titled, “The United States-Mexico Border Economy in 2012,” featuring Dr. Alejandro Diaz-Bautista, PhD., and panelists Dr. Stephen J. Conroy, PhD., Director of the Center for Peace and Commerce, and Dr. David Shirk, PhD., Director of the Trans-Border Institute. The presentation focused on the issues that affect the economic relationship between the United States and Mexico.

Diaz-Bautista’s presentation highlighted the fact that Mexico’s top trading partner is the United States, while Mexico is the United States’ third major trading partner, emphasizing how closely linked the two countries are in economic terms. He noted that, given the border between the two countries is the largest in the world, it fosters a unique economic zone. Diaz-Bautista pointed out that frequent border crossings for shopping, tourism, and work result in 350 million crossings and $450 billion in trade each year; with shopping accounting for 42% of the such crossings. Diaz-Bautista also highlighted that both countries share similar economic trends due to their intensely close relationship, and provided the examples of mirrored unemployment rates and GDP growth rate patterns, the latter, which the World Bank has documented, have been similar for the past 13 years.

Stephen Conroy, director of the Center for Peace and Commerce, explained that the perception that U.S. citizens have of the danger and insecurities in Mexico is exaggerated and it is affecting the tourist segment of the economy in Tijuana. After being questioned on how the misperception of Mexico’s insecurity is fostered, where it comes from, and its effect, Conroy pointed out that indeed violence does occur in Mexico, but that it should not prevent people from crossing given how targeted the violence is, how unlikely U.S. citizens are to be victims of such violence, and how much violence in Tijuana specifically has decreased the past few years. David Shirk, Director of Trans-Border Institute, shared the same sentiments as Conroy in expressing that people should be encouraged to visit Baja California to change the negative perception many have of Mexico.

To view Diaz-Bautista’s power point presentation, please click here.

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“Dreamers” push for reform, both supporting and criticizing the DREAM Act

Undocumented migrants protest in Charlotte, NC, outside of the Democratic National Convention on September 5. All ten migrants arrested were eventually released. Photo: EFE

09/12/12 – Over the past few months, a number of events related to the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) have unfolded as the ongoing debate on immigration ensues in the United States. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, 1.7 million people living in the United States without proper documentation could benefit from the DREAM Act, a bill intended to protect undocumented migrants who arrived to the United States before they were 16 from being deported if certain criteria are met.

As El Universal reported, the Act would provide an avenue for temporary residency for this population–who have come to be known as the “dreamers”–if they apply for deferral before the age of 31, have lived in the United States for at least five consecutive years, and have no criminal background. In addition, those eligible under this bill can apply for unconditional permanent residency if they complete two of four years at an institute of higher education, and/or serve at least two years in the military. Moreover, the DREAM Act applies not only to students and military members, but also to fieldworkers. According to El Universal, approximately 54,000 field workers could benefit from the Act’s passage. All said, the “dreamers” who qualify would have the opportunity to eventually obtain U.S. citizenship and legal status, thereby potentially opening doors to a higher quality education and better working conditions.

Supporters of the DREAM Act, who have been frustrated in the past due to Congress’s delay in passing the bill, were excited this summer to hear President Obama declare that he would open avenues for temporary residency under new federal immigration policies, relax deportation measures, and specifically stop deporting potential “dreamers,” which was reassuring news to many given the administration’s record-breaking number of deportations in the past three and a half years. In addition, as The New York Times reported, thousands of people across the United States seized the opportunity to apply for their temporary deferral on August 15, the first day the application process began.

However, the DREAM Act has been met with criticism, including from potential “dreamers” themselves. Among other issues, given that the Act only benefits a specified group of people with strict qualifications, many “dreamers” have argued that the its benefits ought to extend to the “dreamers'” relatives. In fact, on Tuesday, September 4, ten undocumented immigrants were arrested for blocking the street while organizing a march outside the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, demanding that President Obama reform immigration policy and end the deportations of “dreamers'” family members. The migrants were part of the so-called “Undocubus” that travelled from Arizona to North Carolina–a bus of over 50 undocumented migrants drawing attention to their plight and circumstances. All of the arrested individuals were eventually released, a move that falls in line with the Obama Administration’s push to focus on deportations of migrants with criminal pasts and high-profiles. As Vincent Picard with the Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) noted regarding the release of the individuals in Charlotte, “ICE is focused on smart, effective immigration enforcement that prioritizes the removal of criminal aliens, recent border crossers and egregious immigration law violators, such as those who have been previously removed from the United States.” Additional criticism continues to come from Governor Jan Brewer in Arizona who ordered state offices to deny any applicants seeking deferred action the opportunity to apply under Obama’s relaxed measures. Her executive order was issued on August 15, the same day the application process was opened nationwide.

It is important to note that the full DREAM Act has thus far failed to pass in Congress, despite being introduced back in 2001 and being put to vote in 2007 and 2010, both times falling short by eight and five votes, respectively. Nevertheless, immigration will undoubtedly remain an important issue in the upcoming U.S. presidential elections.


Schwartz, Dave. “Jan Brewer Signs Executive Order Denying State Benefits to Children of Undocumented Immigrants.” Reuters (published in Huffington Post). August 15, 2012.

“Programa para los “dreamers”, sabio: NYT.” El Universal. August 19, 2012.

Associated Press. “Programa para ‘dreamers’ también servirá para peones.” El Universal. August 29, 2012.

“Hispanos Ofendidos.” El Universal. August 31,2012.

Portillo, Ely and Gary L. Wright. “‘Undocubus’ immigrants released from jail; feds take no steps to deport them.” Charlotte Observer. September 5, 2012.

Leland, John. “Divided by Immigration Policy.” The New York Times. September 8, 2012.

Dream Activist. “Dream Act.” Website. Accessed September 13, 2012.

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TBI Hosts Film Screening of “Al Otro Lado”


09/12/12 – On Saturday, September 8, the Trans-Border Institute (TBI) hosted the screening of the film “Al otro lado” (“To the Other Side”) as part of the border region film series, “Ambulante Border: New Perspectives on Gun Policy, Arms Trafficking, Violence and Immigration, Freedom of Expression, and Violence Towards Journalists.”

Produced and directed by Natalia Almada, the 2005 documentary narrates the story of 23-year-old Magdiel, a Mexican fisherman that dreams of having a better a life. Through Magdiel’s story, the movie shows that the reason many Mexicans want to migrate to the United States is for a better future–for the opportunities to study and to improve their economic conditions by finding better-paying jobs–even if it means crossing illegally.

Not only does the film focus on immigration, it weaves in topics of drug-trafficking and day-to-day realities that many Mexicans face. Given the economic hardships and lack of opportunity present for many Mexicans, and the difficulties one endures if attempting to cross the border, the movie shows that many turn to drug trafficking as a source of income and resources to solve their financial problems. This ever-present reality in Mexico is often captured in the popular “corridos,” a type of Mexican music that has embraced the narco-lifestyle and that narrates, for example, the stories of average Mexicans struggling to survive and to overcome financial hardships, even if that means crossing the border without documents or drug trafficking. The film relies on such “corridos” to help tell their story, as well as showcase their importance in Mexican culture and the influence that drug-trafficking has had on this genre of music and thus on Mexican culture.

In sum, “Al otro lado” explores these broader topics of immigration, economic hardships, drug trafficking, and “corridos” through its protagonist, Magdiel.

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