School of Social Work

Social Work Crosses Borders

In March, a committee of students from SDSU School of Social Work, Escuela de Trabajo Social in Tijuana, and social work professionals from both sides of the border held a bi- national conference under the title of The Socio-Political Context of the US-Mexico Border. The organizing committee proclaimed, “This conference is our first step in creating a binational human bridge of social work students and social service professionals.” The event was held at Centro Cultural Tijuana (CECUT) and was sold out. To accommodate those who couldn’t attend in person, it was also live-streamed. Professor Silvia Barragan lead the SDSU committee.

social work crosses bordersThe day featured a variety of speakers, including

  • Heriberto Garcia Garcia, Professor of Human Rights Studies at Universidad Autonoma de Baja California. He graduated from the Autonomous University of Baja California School of Law in Tijuana, where he has remained as faculty & taught classes in Criminal Law, Criminology, Constitutional Law and Human Rights for more than 24 years.
  • Sonia Nazario, author of Enrique’s Journey. Nazario is an award-winning journalist whose stories have tackled some of this country’s most intractable problems — hunger, drug addiction, immigration — and have won some of the most prestigious journalism and book awards.
  • Amarela Varela, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Sociology and Communication at Universidad Autónoma de la Ciudad de México. She wrote the book, The Right to Remain and to Pertain: A Sociology of the Migrant Struggle. Dr. Varela has focused most of her research on the mobility and organization of migrants in a capitalist context.
  • group in TijuanaDelia Avila Suarez, Director of DIF Municipal Tijuana. Suarez is a licensed social worker, with a specialization in organizations development. Her work focuses on the protection of children who are working and/or living in the streets of Tijuana.
  • Victor Clark Alfaro, Anthropologist and Director of the Binational Center for Human Rights in Tijuana. He has been studying human smuggling patterns across the U.S.-Mexico Border for more than 20 years. He has also worked extensively to defend the rights of the indigenous Mixteca and LGBTQ community in Tijuana.
  • Alex Stepick, Ph.D, Professor in the Department of Sociology at Portland State University. His most recent book, Crossing the Water and Keeping the Faith, is a historical and ethnographic study of Haitian religion in immigrant communities, based on fieldwork in both Miami and Haiti.Dolores Paris Pombo, Ph.D, Professor Cultural Studies at El Colegio de la Frontera. Her primary research focuses on migration, human rights, violence, power relations, racism, and inter-ethnic relations. She has published three books and over 60 articles and chapters in Spanish, French and English.
  • Hugo Castro, Board Member of Borders Angels. Border Angels is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization that advocates for human rights, humane immigration reform, and social justice with a special focus on issues related to issues related to the US-Mexico border.
  • Nora Phillips, JD, Phillips & Urias, LLP. Phillips is an immigration attorney in Los Angeles, California, and is the founding partner of her law firm, Phillips & Urias, LLP. Nora also serves as Legal Director of Al Otro Lado.

There were panels from the US and México, comprised of academics, activists and providers that discussed the intricate world of migration. There were also short films, poetry and art about life on either side of the border.

The committee said, “Our hope is you will leave the Binational Social Work Conference with a better understanding of the Socio-political impact of the US-Mexico border. “

The successful event was made possible in part by grants from the Student Success Fee and the Presidential Leadership Fund.