The Binational Migration Institute
at the University of Arizona, which has celebrated five years of collaborative binational research on migration, officially will be inaugurated as a part of the UA's department of Mexican American studies
The institute was founded by Raquel Rubio-Goldsmith, an adjunct lecturer in the department who specializes in research and teaching on Mexican-American women's history, human rights and immigration issues.
Rubio-Goldsmith, together with colleague Anna Ochoa O'Leary, an assistant professor of practice in the department, now work together at the institute to assess the impact of U.S. enforcement practices.
In particular, they are studying how such practices effect immigrants and non-immigrant members of their families, in the most active migratory transit, militarized and deadly border areas in the U.S., according to the researchers.
The Binational Institute, for example, is currently working on a project funded by the U.S. Department of Justice to assess the protocols used by public offices to identify the remains of immigrants throughout the border region including California, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico.
In addition to being of interest to the U.S. government, the study and its findings are greatly anticipated by the government and people of Mexico.
Within the U.S., the growing fear in migratory communities in or around border areas has made research efforts such conducting surveys extremely difficult, Rubio-Goldsmith said.
Since 2007, the Binational Institute has hosted national conferences to address the methodological and ethical issues inherent in border research for students and researchers, such as the risks of working in Mexico and the threat of violence as the country battles a war with drug cartels.
The main goals of the Binational Migration Institute, or BMI, are to:
- Produce and disseminate scientific data on how the implementation and enforcement of U.S. and Mexican immigration policies impact Latinos with a focus on constitutional, civil and human rights as well as public health and the migration process.
- Generate policy relevant recommendations based on valid and reliable knowledge.
- Respond to community research needs.
- Mentor and train students in rigorous evidence-based research on immigration and binational collaboration.
"Unlike other immigration studies centers in the U.S., BMI's interdisciplinary focus has been shaped by the unavoidable issues in our own backyard, especially the ways in which immigration policies and practices impact the lives of hundreds-of-thousands of migrants and Arizona residents," O'Leary said.
"Being formally recognized as part the UA's department of Mexican American Studies, gluttonizes the effort to concentrate the research agenda in a collaborative manner."
Collaboration includes interdisciplinary efforts with a variety of departments at the UA for master and doctoral thesis and outside of the University with key partnerships in Mexico.
"Border research has typically been divided, with Mexico undertaking its own effort and the U.S. doing the same," O'Leary also said. "There is no reason why research can't be undertaken together to enhance the movement of ideas, practice and data."