Former Mexican undersecretary of population to join UTSA demography faculty

Rene Zenteno

Rene Zenteno

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(May 20, 2013) -- René M. Zenteno, the former undersecretary of population, migration and religious affairs in the Ministry of the Interior in Mexico, will join the UTSA College of Public Policy this fall to serve as a professor in the UTSA Department of Demography. His research and teaching interests include demography, inequality and social stratification.

>> Zenteno will be a panelist at the May 23 San Antonio Express-News Town Hall Meeting on immigration at UTSA. The event is co-sponsored by the UTSA Department of Demography.

Zenteno has published extensively in the areas of social and demographic change, international migration and social inequality with a focus on Mexico, U.S.-Mexico migration and Mexican immigration incorporation.

"Dr. Zenteno exemplifies the renowned faculty that UTSA is attracting to help establish it as a Tier One research institution," said Rogelio Saenz, dean of the UTSA College of Public Policy. "He is eager to help our college and UTSA establish research and training opportunities for our faculty and students throughout Mexico and Latin America."

Joachim Singelmann, chair and professor in the UTSA Department of Demography, added that as an internationally recognized scholar on Mexican immigration to the United States and on Mexican demography, Zenteno is a valuable addition to the demography department. His background in policy-making, Singelmann said, will bring a new insight into the way demography is applied at the federal level.

As the undersecretary of population, migration and religious affairs, Zenteno was responsible for Mexico's population, migration and refugee policy; he also oversaw the preservation of the Mexican secular state and the full expression of freedom of belief, worship and religious tolerance within the country from 2010 through 2012.

Zenteno was instrumental in writing, negotiating and enacting the 2011 Mexican immigration law. He also helped pass the Law on Refugees and Complementary Protection, drafted by the Mexican Refugee Commission with support from the United Nations high commissioner for refugees. These legal instruments provide basic rights to migrants and refugees in Mexico regardless of immigration status.

A renowned demographer, Zenteno joins UTSA from El Colegio de la Frontera Norte (COLEF -- the College of the Northern Border) in Tijuana, where he served as provost and professor in the Department of Population Studies. Before COLEF, Zenteno served as the executive director of the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at the University of California, San Diego.

"I am excited about the possibilities of building an even stronger demography program at UTSA with a great policy orientation and influence," said Zenteno. "I believe that UTSA can become a flagship institution in the United States for the study of U.S.-Mexico relations and Mexican immigration by providing a rich intellectual environment to inform public policy debates on both sides of the border."

For the last 18 years, Zenteno has been an active member of Mexico's Sistema Nacional de Investigadores (National System of Researchers), a distinction awarded to only the best scholars in Mexico. He has received numerous honors and fellowships in the course of his career. He served as president of the Mexican Demographic Society and holds a membership in the National Academy of Science of Mexico

He has contributed to more than 20 books including "Poverty and Poverty Alleviation Strategies in North America," published by the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies and Harvard University Press in 2009.

His work has been featured in numerous journals such as Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, International Migration Review, the Journal of Development Economics, the Latin American Research Review, and the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.

Zenteno received his bachelor's degree in communications from the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education), his master's degree in demography from El Colegio de México (the College of Mexico) and his doctoral degree in sociology with an emphasis in demography from the University of Texas at Austin.