UTSA to host Aug. 26 conference on unaccompanied-minor border crisis

Dreamers

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(Aug. 20, 2014) -- The UTSA Mexico Center, in collaboration with the UTSA College of Public Policy and the St. Mary's University Center for Legal and Social Justice, will host a conference, "Central American Young Migrants and the Border Crisis: Causes and Response," on Tuesday, Aug. 26 to discuss the factors fueling the recent influx of unaccompanied minors from Central America and the legal, policy and social responses to this humanitarian crisis.

The conference will be 8:30 a.m.-noon in Frio Street Building Room 1.402 on the UTSA Downtown Campus. The event is free and open to the public. Free parking is available at UTSA Lot D3, under Interstate 35.

Over the last 10 months, federal agents have apprehended more than 57,000 unaccompanied children crossing the U.S. Southwest border without legal documents. This has created an immigration and humanitarian crisis without precedent. What factors have given rise to this surge of youth migrants? What are the appropriate responses to this humanitarian crisis?

During the conference, Rogelio Saenz, dean of the UTSA College of Public Policy and a renowned scholar on Latino and social issues, will provide welcoming remarks and context for the day's two panel discussions.

The first panel discussion, "Why Youth Migration from Central America?," will draw from research by Harriett Romo, director of the UTSA Mexico Center and UTSA sociology professor; René Zenteno, demographer in the UTSA College of Public Policy; and Nestor Martinez, professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin.

Romo worked with Mexican families without documents necessary for legal U.S. residency and studied the experiences of DREAMers across the country. She will report some of the reasons those families migrated, the experiences of the children, and the situations of the DREAMERS and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients. Rodriguez has done extensive research on migrations from Guatemala. Zenteno has done demographic research on migration from Mexico and Central America, intensity of migration flows and deportations.

The second panel will analyze the legal, policy and social responses to the crisis. It includes representatives from some of the main organizations providing services to the youth.

The panel includes Jonathan Ryan from the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES); Adriane Meneses from St. Mary's University Center for Legal and Social Justice; J. Antonio Fernandez from the Archdioceses of San Antonio Catholic Charities; James Castro from St. PJ's Children's Home; Anna Huth from Catholic Relief Services; and Elizabeth Pate from the UTSA College of Education and Human Development. They will discuss programs and policies established to take care of the young migrants, as well as issues they face and policy or resource needs they see.

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For more information, contact Olivia Lopez at 210-458-2923 or visit the UTSA Mexico Center website.

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