Opening Remarks

Filemon Vela


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Congressman Filemon Vela was elected in 2012 to represent the 34th Congressional District of Texas which is anchored in Cameron County in the southernmost tip of Texas, and runs nearly 300 miles north to Gonzales County.  Filemon Vela was born in Harlingen and raised in Brownsville. He graduated from Saint Joseph Academy, received his degree in Government from Georgetown University and graduated from the University of Texas School of Law. For 22 years he devoted his professional life to the practice of law. In Congress, he has been a strong advocate for immigrant rights, education programs including Head Start and Pell Grants for college students, and our community's federal healthcare centers. Congressman Vela is currently focused on bringing peace and security to our neighbors in Matamoros and Reynosa, and he is working to bring jobs and economic development to South Texas through many efforts including transforming the Port of Brownsville into a competitive deep water port. 

Featured Speakers

Anita Sheth

Senior Advisor Social Compliance and Development (Informal Sectors)

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Anita joined Fairtrade International in 2009 and in June 2010, became its Senior Advisor, Social Compliance and Development.  She is the organization’s lead expert on child and forced labour issues, including protection of children and vulnerable adults.  Prior to joining Fairtrade, Anita worked at Save the Children in Canada for eight years as its Senior Policy, Research and Advocacy Analyst.  She has worked on labour and human security issues in the agricultural and extractive sectors, involving many countries in West and East Africa, South and Central America and Asia and the Pacific. She has been an expert advisor to the U.S. Department of Labour’s Cocoa and Child Labour Oversight Body and has been an invited trainer to several U.S. Custom, Immigration and Law Enforcement workshops, including the Toronto Police, on human trafficking for forced labour purposes.  Anita has also worked in the private sector on policy issues, including mainstreaming diversity and human rights in the workplace.  She has presented at various international conferences and published in academic journals, and was a board of directors of Partnership Africa Canada that plays a key role on preventing the sale of conflict diamonds.  She is an Indian born, Canadian citizen, who has lived and studied in Malta and currently resides and works in Bonn, Germany.

Oscar Martinez

Co-Founder, Coordinator, and Reporter for "Sala Negra"

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Óscar Martínez is the co-founder, coordinator, and reporter for "Sala Negra" (Black Room), the investigative unit that covers gang violence for Central America's first online-only newsmagazine El Faro (The Lighthouse).

After working as a freelance reporter in Mexico, Martínez joined El Faro in 2008 to help carry out an in-depth investigation of Central American migration across Mexico. For two and a half years, he followed migrants as they traveled north and documented the abuses they suffered, including mass kidnappings, rape, human trafficking, and massacres. The reporting project, first featured on El Faro's website under the name El Camino (The Road), was eventually published as a book in 2013 under the title The Beast, the nickname for a network of freight trains that crosses Mexico. Migrants often cling to the back of these trains as they make their way through some of the most lawless and violent towns in Mexico.

In 2011, Martínez co-founded "Sala Negra," which quickly gained a reputation for conducting hard-hitting investigations into extrajudicial killings by police, one of the most taboo subjects in El Salvador.

Martínez won the Fernando Benítez National Journalism Prize in Mexico in 2008 and Human Rights Prize at the José Simeón Cañas Central American University in El Salvador the following year. He won the WOLA-Duke Book Award for The Beast in 2014. His second book, called A History of Violence, was released in March 2016. In July 2016, Martínez was also awarded the Maria Moors Cabot Prize, which honors journalists for their outstanding coverage of the Americas.

Lucas Benitez

Founder, Coalition of Immokalee Workers

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LUCAS BENITEZ, a Coalition of Immokalee Workers co-founder, is a key organizational leader and member of the Fair Food Program worker education team. In addition to being one of the earliest farmworker leaders in the Fair Food movement, he played a critical role in the investigation of several slavery cases, helping to free over 700 workers in one case alone.  He also works with consumer allies to organize national actions -- renowned for their creativity and effectiveness -- designed to bring pressure on the large retail purchasers of Florida produce to join the Fair Food Program.  For his work with the CIW, Lucas has been called “one of the most visible farmworker leaders in the US” (Los Angeles Times). On behalf of the Fair Food Program, Mr. Benitez accepted the 2015 Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts in Combatting Human Trafficking at the White House, the 2014 Clinton Global Citizen Award, the 2016 James Beard Leadership Award.  He has won numerous national and international awards, including: the Rolling Stone Magazine Brick Award for “America’s Best Young Community Leader”; the US Catholic Bishops’ Conference Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award; and, along with two co-workers, the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award.

Kirsta Melton

Deputy Criminal Chief of the Human Trafficking and Transnational/Organized Crime Unit of the Office of the Texas Attorney General

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Melton is the Deputy Criminal Chief of the Human Trafficking and Transnational/Organized Crime Unit of the Office of the Texas Attorney General. From 2000-2014 she prosecuted in the Family Justice Unit of the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office combating human trafficking, the physical and sexual abuse of children and family violence, and in 2012 helped establish and lead the Bexar County DA’s Human Trafficking Unit.  Melton prosecuted the first five trafficking cases arising in Bexar County.  In addition Melton chaired the Alamo Area Coalition against Trafficking, a regional multi-disciplinary group of law enforcement, non-profits, government agencies, business people, and academics assembled to coordinate the fight against human trafficking.  Melton has trained more than 5000 people across the state on human trafficking and has testified on multiple occasions before the Texas legislature on trafficking related issues.

Melton graduated from Cornell University in 1993.  She then went on to obtain her law degree and her Master’s in Public Affairs from the University of Texas in 1998.  In addition to prosecuting, she is one of the founding members of Truckers against Trafficking, a nation-wide campaign dedicated to educating, empowering and mobilizing the trucking industry in the fight against human trafficking.


Sasa Poucki

Visiting Professor in the Division of Global Affairs (DGA) at Rutgers University - Newark

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Sasha Poucki is a Visiting Professor in the Division of Global Affairs (DGA) at Rutgers University - Newark. He holds a Ph.D. in Global Affairs from The Division of Global Affairs at Rutgers University and a J.D. from The University of Novi Sad, Serbia. He was the recipient and Co-PI of a competitive research grant from Microsoft Research and the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit (2012-2014) to study the role of technology in human trafficking.  Dr. Poucki was the recipient of a Dissertation Fellowship (2007-2008) from Rutgers University. His doctoral dissertation research was focused on exploring the root causes of human trafficking and the vulnerability of minority groups, with a focus on the Republic of Serbia, Nepal and India. Dr. Poucki has conducted field research on labor trafficking in Asia and child labor in South and Central America as well as community policing in the Western Balkan. His research interests include the exploration of topics related to the processes of globalization, human rights, business conduct and corporate responsibility, irregular migration, technology and society, cyber crime and international relations. Currently, Dr. Poucki is working on editing SAGE forthcoming book titled: “The Handbook on Human Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery.”

Sonja Wolf

CONACYT Research Fellow with the Drug Policy Program at the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas, Mexico

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Sonja Wolf is a CONACYT Research Fellow with the Drug Policy Program at the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas, Mexico. Previously, she held research positions at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México, the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, and the Mexico City-based Instituto para la Seguridad y la Democracia. Her research focuses on violence, street gangs, migration and displacement as well as security and drug policies. She has published in the Journal of Latin American Studies and Latin American Politics and Society, and her book Mano Dura: The Politics of Gang Control in El Salvador has been published by the University of Texas Press (2017).

Maricarmen Garza

Coordinator for Texas RioGrande Legal Aid's Victim Rights Group, Director of the Legal Alliance for Survivors of Abuse

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Maricarmen Garza is the group coordinator for Texas RioGrande Legal Aid’s (“TRLA”) Victim Rights Group and the director of the Legal Alliance for Survivors of Abuse (LASA) project. Started in 1999, the LASA Project is a unique collaboration between TRLA and 31+ domestic violence shelters and rape crisis centers serving victims of domestic violence and sexual assault across 68 counties of central, south, and west Texas. Through the LASA Project partnership, TRLA ensures that at their initial point of contact with a domestic violence shelter or rape crisis center, victims receive the legal assistance that is critical to breaking the cycle of violence. As project director, Maricarmen is responsible for managing the day-to-day activities and progress of project and partner staff. In October 2015, the project received TAJF funding to expand the project to 114 new counties in North West Texas, with the specific focus of providing civil legal services to survivors of sexual assault. As group coordinator for the Victim Rights Group, Maricarmen oversees TRLA’s new Legal Aid to Survivors of Sexual Assault team, providing direction, mentorship and supervision. Maricarmen started her legal career as a staff attorney for Catholic Charities in Houston, representing clients in removal proceedings, VAWA self-petitions and political asylum cases. As a TRLA attorney Maricarmen, focuses her practice on assisting survivors of family violence and sexual assault in contested child custody cases, divorces, protective orders, CPS cases, and privacy issues. Maricarmen served on the Texas Council on Family Violence’s Public Policy Committee (2003-2015) and has done numerous presentations on the issues of domestic violence, confidentiality and privacy, and immigration options for victims. Maricarmen conducts bi–monthly legal option clinics for clients of the Houston Area Women’s Center and provides referrals to local legal services providers. Maricarmen received a Bachelors of Arts in Child Psychology from the University of the Incarnate Word in 1992. She received her J.D. from St. Mary’s University school of Law in 1996.

Philip Ethridge

Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

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Dr. Philp A. Ethridge is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley – Edinburg Campus. Dr. Ethridge earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville; his Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Eastern Kentucky University; and a Ph.D. from Sam Houston State University.  He has taught a wide variety of courses including: policing, corrections, terrorism, administration and juvenile delinquency. He has consulted with the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Department, Hidalgo County Juvenile Probation Department and several municipal police departments. His current research interests include border security, concealed handgun laws, and human smuggling/trafficking. He can be reached at

George Diaz

Assistant professor of history at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

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George T. Díaz is an assistant professor of history at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.  His award winning book, Border Contraband: A History of Smuggling across the Rio Grande, was published with the University of Texas Press. Recently he served as the Visiting Scholar at the Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Houston where he designed and taught a course on smuggling in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.  Díaz teaches courses in U.S., Borderlands, and Mexican American history.  His research is informed by investigations in Mexican and U.S. archives as well as a lifetime of living on the border.

Elsie Bellevue

Federal Field Specialist, South Texas, HHS, ACF, ORR, DUCO

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Dr. Elsie Bellevue (Bell- view) earned her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida in 2003, MPA from Webster University in 2010 and Educational Doctorate in Organizational Leadership from Argosy University in June 2016.

Dr. Bellevue has over ten years’ experience working on the front line and in management as it relates to the field of child safety (abused and neglect children) with the State of Florida. In her current capacity, Dr. Bellevue is a Federal Field Specialist with the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Pedro Villareal

Special Operations Supervisor, DHS

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Pedro Villarreal has been working in the criminal justice field for 17 years under the Department of Homeland Security. He started his career in the Brownsville sector and has worked throughout the Rio Grande Valley. He is currently a Special Operations Supervisor and has worked in investigations involving human smuggling and trafficking, focusing on dismantling organized crime operations. He has a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and is completing his Master’s Degree at the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley.

Maria Elena Ramos Tovar

Socióloga por la Facultad de Trabajo Social de la Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León

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Socióloga por la Facultad de Trabajo Social de la Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León (1991), cuenta con una Maestría en Sociología y Doctorado con la misma especialidad, estudios realizados en la Universidad de Tulane, New Orleáns, USA en 1994 y 1999 respectivamente. Reconocida por el Sistema Nacional de Investigadores, Nivel I. Miembro de Cuerpo Académico Consolidado “Género, Cultura e Identidades” CA-UANL-235. Coordinadora de Asuntos Internacionales de la Facultad de Trabajo Social y Desarrollo Humano. Miembro de la Red Temáticas Conacyt Red Mexicana de Ciencia, Tecnología y Género (RED MEXCITEG), Miembro de la Red “Estudios de Género en los Nortes de México”, Miembro de la Red “Derechos Humanos y Migración”, Consejera Ciudadana del Instituto Estatal de las Mujeres. 

Área de investigación:

Salud mental. Migración. Familia. Género.

Proyectos de investigación:

Derechos Humanos, y Bienestar de Familias Migrantes. SEP 2015

Derechos Humanos, Bienestar y Migración, PAICYT, 2015

El impacto del modelo neoliberal en los procesos de gestión, la cultura organizacional, interacción social y la salud del profesorado y del alumnado universitarios en instituciones de educación superior pública mexicanas. SEP 2013-2014

Dolor y gozo, la estructura psíquica de las familias transnacionales: una perspectiva psico-sociológica, CONACYT 2009, PAICYT 2011

Relaciones laborales y su impacto en la salud psicofísica de mujeres científicas de alto rendimiento en universidades mexicanas, CONACYT 2008

Cultura política en el sistema universitario de provincia, SEP 2009-2011

Relaciones laborales y su impacto en la salud psicofísica de mujeres científicas de alto rendimiento en universidades mexicanas, PAICYT 2009

Las emociones de hijos y padres migrantes en los Estados Unidos y las consecuencias en su salud mental.  PAICYT-UANL 2006. DS1408-06, PAICYT-UANL DS 1408-07

Migracion México-Estados Unidos.  Transformación de las dinámicas familiares y redes de intercambio. PROMEP, 2004  /103.05/04/2379.

El electo del desgaste laboral y la reestructuración familiar en el nivel de estrés entre los docentes. PAICYT- UANL 2004. DS1016-04

Development Policies and Women. Mexican Policy Studies Program y Tinker Foundation, Inc. 1994.

Mexican Women's Mental Health in Maquiladoras. Beca dentro del proyecto de investigación dirigida por el profesor Dr. Timmons Roberts, Tulane University, 1994.

Producción científica:

La Dra. Ramos ha publicado libros y artículos científicos en revistas con arbitraje internacional o indexadas, así como publicaciones de divulgación científica en diversos medios.

Director de tesis: Licenciatura, Maestría y  Doctorado.


- Actualmente es profesora en la división de posgrado de la Fac. de Trabajo Social y Desarrollo Humano (desde 2003)

- Profesora en la Universidad de Monterrey (1989-2003)

- Profesora invitada en la Universidad de Kingsville, Texas (junio 2003 y septiembre de 2011)

Simon Pedro Palacios

Doctor en Sociología por la Universidad Complutense de Madrid

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Es Doctor en Sociología por la Universidad Complutense de Madrid, miembro del Sistema Nacional de Investigadores (Nivel II) y recientemente obtiene la distinción de Nivel III en reciente convocatorio SNI-2015. Profesor Investigador de Tiempo Completo en la Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas. Se une al programa de Criminología y Ciencias Forenses a la LGAC Problemas Sociales y Criminalidad.

Cuenta con publicaciones como autor principal y único mas de docena de libros; mas de 30 trabajos en revistas como: MEDIT (Mediterranean Perspectives and Proposals. Journal of Economics, Agriculture and Environment), Japanese Studies, The Nokei Ronso, Revista de Estudios Europeos, Revista de Sociología del Trabajo, Revista Internacional de Sociología, entre otras más.

Cuenta con publicaciones de obras en editoriales de reconocido prestigio como:

  • Los jornaleros tamaulipecos y el programa H-2A de trabajadores huéspedes. Editorial: Plaza y Valdés.
  • Nuevas infraclases: Los jornaleros migratorios de Tamaulipas. Editorial: Miguel Ángel Porrúa. Sociedad rural y migración en Tamaulipas. Editorial: Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas.
  • La era de la post-globalización. El retorno de los ciclos agrarios. Editorial: Miguel Ángel Porrúa. Sociedad rural y migración en España. Editorial: Plaza y Valdés.
  • La etiología de la migración permanente en la zona citrícola de Tamaulipas. Editorial: Miguel Ángel Porrúa. Problemas de salud de los jornaleros migratorios en Guémez y Padilla. Editorial: Fontamara.
  • Manual de investigación cualitativa. Editorial: Edit. Fontamara.
  • Migración y Desarrollo en Tamaulipas. Editorial: Plaza y Valdés.

Artículos en diversas Revistas, tales como:

  • “Opinión de los polleros tamaulipecos sobre la política migratoria estadounidense”, Revista Migraciones Internacionales.
  • “El aislamiento social de los trabajadores con visas H-2A (el ejemplo de los jornaleros tamaulipecos)”, Revista Región y Sociedad,
  • “Coyotaje y grupos delictivos en Tamaulipas”, Revista Latin American Research Review.
  • “Contrabandistas de migrantes a pequeña escala de Tamaulipas”. Perfiles Latinoamericanos.
  • “Deficiencias nutricionales de los jornaleros migratorios asentados en la zona citrícola de Tamaulipas”, Revista Perspectivas Sociales,
  • “Aspiraciones de los migrantes centroamericanos en tránsito por México”, RevistaTrayectorias,
  • “Coyotaje and Drugs: Two Different Businesses”, Bulletin of Latin, Revista American Research.

Cynthia Marisol Orozco

Profesora de Tiempo Completo en la Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas

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Profesora de Tiempo Completo en la Universidad  Autónoma de Tamaulipas, perfil PRODEP, Miembro del Sistema Nacional de Investigadores  Nivel Candidato, Actualmente se desempeña como Coordinadora de la Licenciatura en Criminología, Integrante del Cuerpo Académico UAT-CA-62 CRIMINOLOGÍA. Profesora adscrita a la Maestría en Criminología y Ciencias Forenses, programa de calidad CONACYT.

Rosie Martinez

Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office Victims Unit Director

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Rosie Martinez, Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office Victims Unit Director

Relevant Training and Experience:

  • 16 years of continuous victim services experience
  • National Accreditation by the National Organization of Victim Assistance

“Comprehensive Victim Intervention Specialist” NACP#N240309541

  • Certification by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Victim Assistance
  • Certification by the Office of Victims Of Crime in Victim Assistance
  • Certification by the Office of the Attorney General in Crime Victim Compensation-

Advanced Track and Presumptive Eligibility PE#13-1204-RM Specialty Training Areas:

  • Ms Martinez has trained over 500 professional individuals in the prevention and dynamics of human trafficking. She has been a trainer at the South Texas College Human Trafficking Conference, Advanced Academy for Victim Assistance of the Texas Victim Services Association, Rio Grande Valley Human Trafficking Coalition trainings, and several school districts in the Rio Grande Valley.
  • She provides training in family violence, sexual assault, child abuse, working with survivors of homicide victims, crime victims compensation, protective orders, human trafficking, victims’ rights, enhancing response to victims of crime, safety planning for victims, and victim advocacy.

Work Experience:

Hidalgo County Juvenile Probation Department Mujeres Unidas/ Women Together
LRGVDC Council of Government
Mujeres Unidas/Women Together

Victims of Crime Program (6 counties)
Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office- Victims Unit (current)

Memberships & Appointments

  • Texas Victim Services Association Board Member Region F
  • 84 & 85th Legislative Public Policy Committee Member of the Texas Council on

Family Violence

  • Former Chair for the Rio Grande Valley Human Trafficking Coalition
  • Former Chair of Voces Unidas State Caucus (2 terms) of the Texas Council on Family Violence
  • HB2620 Policy and Public Awareness Committee for the Health Human Services

Commission State Taskforce

  • Former Chair of the Hidalgo County Family Violence Task Force ( 2 Terms)
  • Hidalgo Child Fatality Review Team
  • CRT of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services
  • HB2398 Hidalgo County Truancy Committee
  • La Joya ISD Advisory Council 

Karla Andrade

Doctora en Sociología por el Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades de la Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla

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Doctora en Sociología por el Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades de la Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla. Miembro del Cuerpo Académico UAT-CA-73 “Migración y Desarrollo y Derechos Humanos”. Participa en la LGAC “Problemas Sociales y Criminalidad” dentro del Programa de Maestría en Criminología y Ciencias Forenses.

Cuenta con publicaciones en editoriales de reconocido prestigio como:

  • El diseño metodológico en la investigación cualitativa (El ejemplo del Proyecto de investigación “Migrantes rurales tamaulipecos estacionales en la agricultura de Estados Unidos”) Editorial UAT.
  • Sociedad rural y migración en Tamaulipas. Exclusión social y emigración en el ejido San Pablo. Editorial: Miguel Ángel Porrúa.
  • Excluidos y estigmatizados: los jornaleros migratorios en Tamaulipas. Editorial: Miguel Ángel Porrúa. Sociedad rural y migración en España, Ed. Plaza y Valdés.

Artículos Publicados en Revistas Científicas:

  • Negative Social Identity and Social Exclusion: Migrant Farm Workers in Tamaulipas, Source: Revista De Ciencias Sociales.
  • Social capital versus social isolation: Tamaulipas's migrant farm, Source: Revista De Geografía Norte Grande.
  • “La exclusión de la mujer migrante del programa Oportunidades: El ejemplo de la zona citrícola de Tamaulipas”, Revista Trayectorias.
  • “Deficiencias nutricionales de los jornaleros migratorios asentados en la zona citrícola de Tamaulipas” Revista Perspectivas Sociales.
  • “Los traficantes de migrantes en México”, Ixaya, Revista Universitaria de Desarrollo Social.

Jose Ariel Renata Cantu

Maestro en Ciencias Penales, y Máster en Criminología y Ciencias Forenses por la Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas

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Maestro en Ciencias Penales, y Máster en Criminología y Ciencias Forenses por la Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas. Desarrolla la línea LGAC – Legislación e Impartición de Justicia. Con amplia experiencia en el área de acentuación del Programa entre las cuales se ha destacado como Juez Calificador en la Inspección de la Policía Municipal de Reynosa, Tamaulipas. Ministerio Público y Supervisor de las Agencias del Ministerio Público en la Zona Norte del Estado de la Procuraduría General de Justicia del Estado de Tamaulipas. Actualmente es Profesor de Tiempo Completo con perfil PROMEP vigente en la Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas. Miembro del Cuerpo Académico de Criminología UAT-CA-62- CRIMINOLOGÍA. Profesor iniciador de la Licenciatura en Criminología en 1994 en la Unidad Académica Multidisciplinaria Reynosa Aztlán (UAMRA) de la Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas. Profesor titular de Teoría del Procedimiento Penal en la Maestría en Criminología y Ciencias Forenses en la Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas (UAT). Funge además como Director y asesor de tesis.

Integrante de Proyectos de Investigación en REDES de Impartición de Justicia, financiadas por el PROMEP por tres períodos consecutivos. Colaborador del Proyecto de Financiamiento Externo CONACyT “La Investigación Científica del Delito” Núm. de aprobación: 204774.

Actualmente se encuentra desarrollando como colaborador del proyecto de Financiamiento Interno por la Universidad PFI-2014 “La Educación y la Capacitación para el Trabajo de las Mujeres en Prisión” Tiene vinculación con el grupo “La Investigación Jurídica” con la Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León Obteniendo como producto de calidad “Emilio Portes Gil”. Cuenta con Publicaciones destacadas como: Criminalidad Organizada “Estudios Internacionales”, editorial Criminología y Justicia. Administración, Procuración e Impartición de Justicia, Reforma penal constitucional en México 2008, editorial: Montiel & Soriano – BUAP. Trastornos de la personalidad y violencia de género Revista: Criminología y Justicia nº 5.

Karla Villarreal Sotelo

Profesor de Tiempo Completo en la Lic. en Criminología y en la Maestría en Criminología y Ciencias Forenses, de la Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas

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Profesor de Tiempo Completo en la Lic. en Criminología y en la Maestría en Criminología y Ciencias Forenses, de la Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas, Titular de las Cátedras de Criminología, Victimología. Profesor con Perfil PRODEP, Miembro del Sistema Nacional de Investigadores Nivel 1. Líder del Cuerpo Académico de Criminología (UAT-CA-62 Criminología). Integrante de la Red de Métodos Alternos de Solución de Conflictos de PRODEP, Integrante de la Red Temática  CONACyT en Ciencias Forenses, Integrante de la Red Regional en Investigación en Seguridad Pública y Desarrollo Social (REDSPDS),  Miembro activo de la Sociedad Mundial de Criminología y Presidente de la Filial Tamaulipas de la Sociedad Mexicana de Criminología. Miembro Honorario de la Fundación Española de Victimología. Cuenta con desarrollo científico-académico como autor y co-autor de Libros, Capítulos de Libros, Publicaciones en diversas revistas de Divulgación, y Experiencia en el desarrollo de Proyectos de investigación con  Financiamiento externo. Contribuye  a la formación de recursos humano en Dirección y Asesor de Tesis de Nivel Licenciatura y Posgrado. Cuenta con Estudios Doctorales ene Ciencias Penales, Maestría en Criminología y Ciencias Forenses, y Licenciatura en Criminología. Recientemente recibe la presea Medalla al Mérito Criminológico: Dr. Alfonso Quiroz Cuarón, por su trayectoria dentro del ámbito Criminológico, otorgado por la SOMECRIM.

Ernesto B. Leal Sotelo

Maestro en Criminología y Ciencias Forenses por la Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas

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Maestro en Criminología y Ciencias Forenses por la Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas. Profesor de Tiempo completo de la Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas; Miembro del Cuerpo académico de Criminología UAT-CA-62 “CRIMINOLOGÍA”; Imparte cátedras y es el responsable de apoyo a las publicaciones en Idioma Inglés como segunda Lengua para los alumnos del Maestría en Criminología y Ciencias Forenses.

Participa en la LGAC “Problemas Sociales y Criminalidad”.

Cuenta con participación y es Integrante de Proyectos de Investigación en REDES de Impartición de Justicia, financiadas por el PROMEP por tres períodos consecutivos.

Colaborador del Proyecto de Financiamiento Externo CONACyT “La Investigación Científica del Delito” Núm. de aprobación: 204774.

Actualmente se encuentra desarrollando como colaborador del proyecto de Financiamiento Interno por la Universidad PFI-2014 “La Educación y la Capacitación para el Trabajo de las Mujeres en Prisión”.

Participación en obras de coautoría como: Administración, Procuración e Impartición de Justicia, Reforma penal constitucional en México 2008, editorial: Montiel & Soriano – BUAP.

Colaborador de capítulo en el Libro Principios de Victimología, ed. OXFORD-UA. Funge además como Director y asesor de tesis. Continúa con su formación académica de Doctorado en la Universidad de Seattle, USA‏.

Eduardo Canales

Executive Director, South Texas Human Rights Project

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Born of migrant farm worker parents, Eddie spent his early years in a rural, migrant border town outside of Texas, while his father worked in steel mills in Gary, Indiana and East Chicago. They were poor: he did not have the luxury of inside bathroom facilities until 6th grade. Early jobs included farm work, shoe shining, barber/beauty shop sweeping and the neighborhood youth corps, followed by factory work, cafeteria cleanup, and bottling plant/warehouse work. After junior college, Eddie attended the University of Houston, where he became involved with MAYO and La Raza Unida Party, beginning a long history of political activism and organizing. He has served the social and economic justice movements in many capacities and with several organizations, including the Congreso de Aztlan (the National Committee of La Raza Unida), the Texas Farmworkers, the Longshoremen, SEIU’s School District Campaign of custodians and cafeteria workers, and Centro Aztlan in Houston, where he was a Director for ten years. Eduardo has been an organizer in Colorado, New Mexico, Eastern Washington, Montana, Idaho, Texas and Wyoming; he has agitated, organized, negotiated and provided direct services around issues ranging from economic and labor justice to anti-police brutality.

Eduardo Canales long history of organizing for immigrant and human rights has been centered with the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights for over 25 years and where he continues to oppose many restrictive and punitive attacks on migrant workers and push and advocate for US reduction of militarization at our southwestern international borders and promotes establishing human rights guidelines for all migrants entry inspection at US southwest border.

Eduardo Canales recently has founded the South Texas Human Rights Center in Falfurrias, Texas, whose mission  is to end death and suffering among migrant border crossers through community initiatives and strength the capacity of families to locate  missing loved ones and to increase public awareness of migrant deaths and the impact of militarization of the Southwest border.

Enrique Lerma

Independent Field Producer, Univision Network

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Enrique Lerma works as an independent multimedia journalist with a strong social media presence. He is a producer for the Brownsville Police Crime Stoppers program, as well freelancer as field producer for Univision network.

Lerma has been interviewed by the prestigious magazine Texas Monthly for Breaking the Silence, a story about reporting in Mexico’s Drug War. Lerma has collaborated with the national news organization Breitbart News in several border projects dealing with drug trafficking trends in border cities. Lerma has also collaborated with NatGeo Network on border projects dealing with drug trafficking, human trafficking, organized crime, and spill-over violence. He worked as video journalist for Noticias 48 Univision for the past 15 years providing local and national coverage in South Texas and North of Tamaulipas.

Since 2006, Lerma has reported on the ongoing cartel violence on both sides of the border as well as the arrests of key drug-lords and their extraditions through this city.

Lerma studied Science and Technology at Texas Southmost College in Brownsville, Texas.

Jorge Luis Sierra

International Center for Journalists Knight Fellow

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Jorge Luis Sierra works on the intersection of cyber security, digital technology and investigative journalism. As an ICFJ Knight Fellow, Sierra developed digital crowd-sourced mapping tools to track crime, corruption and attacks on journalists. He also created Salama, an application enabling journalists to assess risks. An award-winning Mexican investigative reporter, he has covered a range of conflict-related topics such as drug trafficking, organized crime, counterinsurgency, gangs, and armed conflicts. He covered the war in Iraq in 2003. Sierra studied international journalism at the University of Southern California and authored the book "The Enemy Inside: Armed Forces and Counterinsurgency in Mexico.

Kelley McCormick

Border Prosecution Unit Attorney, Hidalgo County Criminal District Attorney's Office

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Kelley McCormick is the Border Prosecution Unit attorney assigned to the Rio Grande Valley Texas Anti-Gang Group from the Hidalgo County Criminal District Attorney’s Office.  After graduating from Rice University in Houston, he attended Texas Tech University School of Law.  His career has been focused on criminal law and criminal prosecution, having served as Deputy General Counsel to Texas Governor Rick Perry, and as assistant district attorneys in Victoria, Brazoria and Hidalgo Counties, as well as a prosecutor for the Special Prosecution Unit, handling crimes occurring in the Texas Prison System.  As a Border Prosecution Unit attorney since 2010, he has worked closely with Rio Grande Valley area law enforcement (local, state and federal) in the development of border-related criminal cases for prosecution, as well coordinating training for prosecutors and law enforcement.

Sister Norma Pimentel

Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley

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Norma Pimentel is a Sister with the Missionaries of Jesus. As Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, she oversees the charitable arm of the Diocese of Brownsville, providing oversight of programs including emergency assistance, clinical counseling, housing assistance, pregnancy care and military assistance to individuals and families residing in the four southernmost counties in Texas.

Sister Norma leads community efforts providing relief in times of disaster and crisis in the Rio Grande Valley. She was instrumental in quickly organizing resources to respond to the surge of Central Americans seeking asylum in the United States and setting up a humanitarian respite center in McAllen, TX. These efforts captured the world’s attention, drawing news media from around the globe to the U.S.-Mexico border, to cover the plight of immigrants and refugees, and compelling thousands of individuals from across the U.S. to contribute their time, talents and treasures to this cause. As of January 2017, the Respite Center has welcomed more than 71,000 individuals from 31 countries.

Before overseeing Catholic Charities, Sister Pimentel was a director at Casa Oscar Romero — a refugee shelter for Central Americans fleeing their war-torn countries. The shelter provided emergency relief and temporary housing for hundreds of thousands of refugees.

Sister Norma Pimentel earned her bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from Pan American University, a master’s degree in Theology from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, TX, and a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Loyola University Chicago in Chicago, IL.

Anna Franceshi

Chief Development Officer, Circle of Health International

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Anna has a B.A. in Political Science and Sociology from the University of Arkansas and her M.A. in Public Policy from Central European University. Anna has previously collaborated with the International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent and United Nations Development Program and has worked closely with women's rights advocacy organizations both in Europe and in the U.S. She currently works as COHI's Chief Development Officer and as a member of COHI's lead training team. Anna spends her time at COHI supporting COHI's community based partners in Nicaragua, Haiti, Sierra Leone, Nepal, the Rio Grande Valley, and Syria working to provide quality maternal, reproductive, and newborn health care. 

Carlos Manuel Juárez

Journalist, Expreso

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Carlos Manuel Juárez nació en Tampico, Tamaulipas, el 12 de noviembre de 1985. Estudió la Licenciatura en Ciencias de la Comunicación en la Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas (UAT). A los 20 años comenzó a trabajar en periódicos de Tamaulipas. Ha publicado crónicas y reportajes sobre víctimas y victimarios de la guerra contra el narcotráfico en El Universal, Milenio Diario, 24 horas, Revista Marvin, Punto de Partida de la UNAM y Animal Político. En 2013 inició el proyecto “En el recuerdo me hallo. Crónicas de músicos y poetas de la huasteca tamaulipeca”, para recopilar la memoria oral de la región mexicana. Es corresponsal del noticiero de la periodista Carmen Aristegui y del portal Aristegui Noticias. Actualmente investiga el tema de desaparecidos en Tamaulipas, acompañando a las familias que buscan en campo y cubre hechos de seguridad y sociedad.

Claire Antonelli

Managing Attorney at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA)

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Claire Antonelli is a Managing Attorney at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) where she practices immigration law. Claire’s immigration practice focuses on representing individuals in their VAWA, U and T visa applications, as well as in removal proceedings.

Claire holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California at Berkeley. She received her J.D. from the University of Michigan. Prior to attending law school, Claire worked for an international human rights organization on the promotion of rights-based responses to human trafficking in the Americas. She also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Panama.

George Truan, Jr.

Supervisory Special Agent, HSI Harlingen

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Mr. George Truan, Jr. is currently serving a Supervisory Special Agent over the Human Smuggling and Human Trafficking Group of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Harlingen, Texas. Mr. Truan oversees a cadre of 12 special agents, task force officers and support staff. HSI Harlingen is centrally located within the southernmost four counties of Texas, known as the Rio Grande Valley.

HSI Harlingen is responsible for the following regional investigative programs: Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST); weapons smuggling and export enforcement; worksite enforcement; Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force; and Anti-Money Laundering. HSI Harlingen is also responsible for all human smuggling and trafficking investigations in Cameron and Willacy counties, which is one of the busiest corridors of human smuggling activity on the southwest border. HSI Harlingen also responds to four of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Ports of Entry and three Border Patrol Stations in Cameron County.

Mr. Truan previously served in several key positions in Washington, D.C. He served as a special assistant on the staff of Executive Associate Director (EAD) for HSI. As member of the EAD staff, he coordinated projects and tasks received from main DHS, the Office of the Director of ICE, or other Offices within ICE. Mr. Truan maintained direct communication with Domestic and International Operations, as well as programs within HSI Headquarters in order to efficiently resolve issues and complete these projects. Mr. Truan also served as the special assistant to the Deputy Assistant Director of the Investigative Services Division. Mr. Truan began his HSI Headquarters tour in the Asset Forfeiture Unit as a national program manager over the Major Case Fund, a two-million dollar annual special project fund from the Treasury’s Executive Office of Asset Forfeiture provided directly to assist with investigations which demonstrate significant forfeiture potential.

Prior to his HSI Headquarters assignment, Mr. Truan served as an U.S. Customs Service Special Agent in El Paso, Texas. He investigated all forms of smuggling, including: narcotics, bulk cash, and human smuggling and was the case agent and affiant for several Title III electronic intercepts, as well as the lead agent on an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation.

Mr. Truan is a 20-year federal law enforcement veteran who began his career as an Inspector with the former Immigration and Naturalization Service in Brownsville, Texas. In 1997, he transferred to the former U.S. Customs Service as an Inspector in Brownsville, Texas. Mr. Truan earned a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from the University of Texas at Brownsville in May of 1996.

Oscar Margain

Journalist & Correspondent

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Oscar Margain is a bilingual journalist and Texas/Mexico border correspondent who has covered a variety of stories in the Rio Grande Valley, including issues related to immigration, human and drug trafficking/smuggling, and public corruption.

Born and raised in Mexico, Oscar moved to Texas at age 20 to pursue a degree in broadcast journalism. In 2011, Oscar graduated from The University of Texas Pan-American (now UTRGV) with a bachelor's degree in mass communication and French, plus minors in Spanish and global security studies.

Since becoming a journalist, Oscar has been awarded two Lone Star EMMYs in 2014 and 2016 for Spanish feature stories. In 2017 he was recognized by the Associated Press for his work on investigative reporting and beat reporting on the border.

Cecilia Mata-Moya, LMSW, CDVC

Legal Services Manager, Mujeres Unidas

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Cecilia Mata-Moya has been employed by Women Together/Mujeres Unidas since 1998.  She started as a Legal Advocate, then became the Shelter manager for approximately 2 years before returning the Legal Advocacy Project as the Manager for the program.  She currently manages both the McAllen and Weslaco Satellite Centers and is in charge of the overall functioning of the Centers and the following programs:  Legal Advocacy, the Batterer Intervention and Prevention Program (BIPP) and the Community Education and Outreach programs.

Cecilia obtained her Bachelor’s in Social work in 2007 and her Master’s in 2013 from the University of Texas Pan American.  She has been licensed with the Social Work Board since 2008. She is a Certified Domestic Violence Counselor.  Mrs. Mata-Moya has served as the Co-chair for the Hidalgo County Family Violence task force and the Voces Unidas task force and is currently a member of both.  In addition, she has served on the Board for the South Texas Civil Rights Project since 2008.  She has conducted many trainings to law enforcement officers, Judges, lawyers and other professionals on Family Violence and sexual assault issues.

Aaron Nelson

Senior Reporter for the San Antonio Express

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Aaron Nelsen is a senior reporter for the San Antonio Express-News. He covers Texas' Rio Grande Valley and the border region for the Express-News and Houston Chronicle. Previously he was a freelance reporter and the TIME Magazine correspondent in Chile. His work has also appeared in the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor and Global Post.

Ricardo Rodriguez, Jr.

Hidalgo County Criminal District Attorney

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Ricardo Rodriguez, Jr. was elected into office as the Hidalgo County Criminal District Attorney in March 2014 and began serving his first term as Criminal District Attorney on January 1, 2015. An active and engaged young Edinburg native, Rodriguez boasts an impressive and extensive track record of public service to his community.

Rodriguez, a former migrant worker, was born to a sixteen year old mother and seventeen year old father, and lived much of his childhood traveling across the state and country to work in the fields. He knew from any early age, the meaning of hard work. Yet, supported by his parents, Rodriguez was determined to excel. He attended and graduated from Edinburg High School in 1990, where he excelled as a scholar and an athlete. He received an Academic and Athletic Scholarship to the University of Texas at San Antonio where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration - Accounting from the University of Texas - San Antonio in 1995.

Rodriguez continued on to pursue a legal education and received his Juris Doctorate degree from Texas Southern University, Thurgood Marshall School of Law in 1999. He established his own private practice and was admitted to practice in the United States District Court, Southern District of Texas.

In 2002, Rodriguez began his career as an elected public servant, serving two terms as Council Member for the City of Edinburg from 2002 - 2005. In 2006, Rodriguez won a special election to preside over the 92nd District Court for a two - year term and subsequently was re-elected to the office in 2008 for an additional four - year term. In 2012, Rodriguez ran unopposed and was re-elected for yet another four-year term, where he served until stepping down in August 2013 to run for Hidalgo County Criminal District Attorney. In March 2014, Rodriguez was elected Criminal District Attorney and began his tenure as the County’s top prosecutor in January 2015.

In January 2008, Rodriguez was appointed by the Board of Judges as the overseer for the Auxiliary Drug Courts in Hidalgo County, and was also appointed by the Board of Judges to administer the Hidalgo County Drug Court Diversion Program for first time drug offenders. Rodriguez took great pride in the program, which boasted a tremendous success rate for participants.

Rodriguez has a long history of service to his community. He has served as a member on the All-American 10K Run for the City of Edinburg, and was also a member of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council. Rodriguez strongly believes in providing opportunities for educational advancement, and, as such, was co-creator of the Nicholas and Lucia Palacios Scholarship for Thurgood Marshall School of Law.

Ricardo Rodriguez, Jr. is the son of Ricardo Rodriguez and Olga Palacios Rodriguez of Edinburg. He is a devoted husband to Deyanira Medina Rodriguez, and they are proud parents to three wonderful children: Ricardo III, Nadia and Sofia, Ricardo III attends the University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley; Nadia and Sofia attend the Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District. The Rodriguez family resides in Edinburg, Texas, and attends Holy Family Catholic Church.

Justin Tullius

Associate Executive Director at RAICES

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Justin Tullius is Associate Executive Director at RAICES, based in San Antonio and Corpus Christi. Justin graduated from the University of Texas School of Law after studying law in Austin and Mexico City, and worked as an attorney at the Equal Justice Center and RAICES. Before returning to RAICES's Corpus Christi office in 2014, he was a Senior Program Associate at the Vera Institute of Justice's Legal Orientation Program in New York City and a supervising attorney at the South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project in Harlingen, Texas. Justin serves on the boards of the South Texas Human Rights Center in Falfurrias and of the State Bar of Texas Immigration and Nationality Section.

Lidia Cruz

Workers’ Rights Organizer, Labor Justice Committee Border Workers United

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Almost 7 years ago, Lidia Cruz requested support from the Labor Justice Committee to recover her wages, obtaining favorable results, the judge ordered the employer to pay her, however, so far the order has not been enforced. Since she started her case, she got involved in the Committee and is now an organizer with the Committee, she is very active in helping to recover salaries from the community. The Labor Justice Committee united with a coalition in El Paso got the City of El Paso, Texas, to issue a Wage Theft Ordinance to further protect workers who face unpaid labor and to let companies know they cannot be doing business in El Paso if they engage in wage theft.. The Labor Justice Committee also recently been involved in dealing with cases of labor trafficking and also educating and giving accident prevention training to construction workers.  The Labor Justice Committee organizes with domestic workers to lift the voice of border workers. The Labor Justice Committee works in conjunction with the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Department of Labor.

Marcela Alejandre

Community Leader, Fuerza del Valle Workers’ Center Border Workers United

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Originally from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico and for many years living in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. She was an agricultural worker for some years and a domestic worker, in which, for some employers, the payment was not fair nor was there adequate working conditions. She has been a volunteer for seven years at a school in the Edinburg, TX district. Marcela is active in the community, participating in getting out the vote, home meetings in the colonias (unincorporated communities) to advance access to public light, drainage, and other needs of the most vulnerable. She also participates in a community center giving crafts classes to women, in the center’s activities and in the summer program for children, assisting in the delivery of food and giving instruction to children to develop their skills. Marcela is part of the Domestic Workers’ Committee of Fuerza del Valle that organizes for the rights of women workers with education, advocacy, and organization. Fuerza del Valle is part of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and participates in the Beyond Survival Campaign.

Araceli Herrera Castillo

Human Rights Activist, Domesticas Unidas

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Human rights activist and a domestic worker. She has volunteered in different organizations. In 2001, Araceli organized with 84 workers when in the City of San Antonio, they wanted to take route 97 of the public transportation away, which took them to work. They fought for three years and won, the route gives service to date. Approximately in 2010, she formed, along with other household workers an Organization to protect themselves against employer abuses. She has participated in Social Forums preparing to advance and organize with the other members of the Organization. They are part of the National Domestic Worker Alliance. They identify with the subject of labor trafficking because in the end of 2014, they were presented with the first case, which caused them to seek information and help. They were having more women and made two rescues. Domesticas Unidas is an anchor of the Beyond Survival Campaign of the NDWA, a campaign geared to combat domestic worker labor trafficking, nine organizations anchor the campaign.

Arun Kumar Acharya

Professor, Institute of Social Science Research, Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon, Monterrey, Mexico

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Dr. Arun Kumar Acharya is professor at Institute of Social Science Research, Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon, Monterrey, Mexico. He is founder of Mexican Centre for Migration and Human Trafficking Studies, Monterrey. Prof. Acharya has actively participated on drafting of human trafficking law in Mexico in 2012 and 2014. His book Perspectives of Human trafficking in Mexico led most of the states of Mexico to reformulate their local trafficking law. He has also published more than 50 research papers in various international journals on issues of Migration, Human Trafficking, Gender violence and human rights, also 6 books on Migration and Human trafficking in Mexico. Recently, World Bank, Washington DC has invited him to deliver a lecture on “The Fragility of the Mexican State and Gender Inequality: The Case of Trafficking in Women”. He is also member of National Council on Science and Technology (CONACYT) level II.

Jennifer Harbury

Human Rights Attorney, Texas RioGrandeLegal Aid

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Jennifer Harbury is an attorney, author and human rights activist.  She graduated from the Harvard Law School in 1978, arriving in Texas to work with the migrant program of Texas Rural Legal Aid, Inc.  She has spent the last twenty years working for human rights reforms both in Central America an in the United States.  She spent a number of years mnonitoring human rights and in Guatemala and pressing cases in the Inter-American system of the O.A.S., and hse has written three books about her experiences, “Searching for Everardo”, (Warnrer Books 1997), “Brtidge of Courage” (Common Courage Press, 1993) and “Truth, Troture and the Americna Way” (Beacon Books 2005).

Julia Beebe

Lead Organizer, Matahari Women Workers' Center

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Julia Beebe is the lead organizer for the Matahari Women Workers' Center, through which she organizes, nannies, adult caregivers, house cleaners and their families in Greater Boston. Julia has over five years of experience organizing workers, immigrants, and families in Boston and in the Rio Grande Valley.

Christine Dutko

Attorney, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid

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Christine Dutko is an attorney at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA), working out of their office in Edinburg, where she practices immigration law. Christine represents undocumented victims of crime in their asylum, VAWA, and U and T visa applications.

Christine holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College in Ohio. She received her J.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. Before law school, Christine was a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala.


Elizabeth Deven-Hernandez

UTRGV Lecturer

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Elizabeth is a graduate from UTPA. She earned her B.S. in Political Science and an M.S. in Criminal Justice.  She spent 5 years as a Public Information Officer with the City of McAllen, 8 years as an Adult Probation Officer and 2 years as a Criminal Justice Dual Credit Teacher with PSJA School District and South Texas Community College. Currently, she is a Lecturer at UTRGV in the Department of Criminal Justice. Elizabeth brings her experience into classes such as: Introduction to Criminal Justice, Police Systems and Practices, Court Systems and Practices, Probation and Parole, Correctional Systems and Practice, Current Issues in Corrections, Law and Society, Criminology and Terrorism.

Victor Castillo

News Reporter

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Víctor Hugo Castillo is a multifaceted bilingual news reporter, speaks fluent English/Spanish, and specializes in national security and U.S.-México border issues such as immigration, drug trafficking, human trafficking and binational relations.

In 2014 he was honored with the Alfred I. DuPont Award by Columbia University, and with Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award by the Center for Justice and Human Rights, for his work and contribution to “Rape in the Fields” documentary by PBS Frontline and its Spanish version “Violación de un Sueño” by Univision Aquí y Ahora. This documentary also won the Public Radio News Directors Award in the Investigative Large Newsroom category, and was finalist in Goldsmith Prize.

Castillo’s news reporting work has also been featured in “Border Wars” by National Geographic sharing his experience covering news along the U.S. southern border.

He was conference speaker at the Regional Summit of National Authorities organized in Colombia by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, with representatives of 16 countries where he also participated in human trafficking and human smuggling workshops. As panelist, he was in Mexico City with United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, sharing experiences with news media representatives from Central America and México. On another time, he was also invited by United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner to participate in workshops with news media representatives from North America about violence against women.

His most recent work was national correspondent for Noticias MundoFOX based out of Los Angeles, reporting both sides of the border. Victor Castillo has worked for CBS, Fox, Telemundo and Univision, as well as for other radio and print media. And he’s the go to person by many news media outlets when visiting the border.

His knowledge and experience has taken Victor Castillo to different countries to train reporters on investigative news stories for television and other multimedia platforms. In Panama he trained reporters and the team’s investigative work was put together and aired in national TV. This was organized by Forum de Periodistas and the U.S. Embassy in Panama.

In various opportunities, he’s been to universities such as Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, University of Texas Pan American, Universidad México Americana del Norte and others, talking to students about border news reporting.

Castillo is founder of Asociación Internacional de Comunicadores Hispanos, and of Border Center for Journalists and Bloggers, organizations dedicated to advance freedom of press and train reporters.

He’s been twice at the Human Trafficking Conference organized by South Texas College.

Anthony Squiers, PhD, Habil

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Anthony Squiers, PhD, Habil. is a political philosopher, social scientist and poet. He holds a PhD in Political Science from Western Michigan University and has a post-doctoral certificate in American Studies from the Universität Passau in Germany. Currently, he gives classes in Political Science at South Texas College and in American Studies at the Universität Passau. His research is interested in hegemonic ideologies and how they are reproduced and challenged through cultural reproductions. He is the author of: The Politics of the Sacred: How the American Civil Religion mediates particularistic interests and collectivity through social belief and institutional politics (forthcoming); An Introduction to the Social and Political Philosophy of Bertolt Brecht: Revolution and Aesthetics (Brill|Rodopi, 2014); the novel, Madness and Insanity (Irish Eye Publishing, 2009) and his poetry has been featured in such publications as Consciousness, Literature and the Arts, Red Poets, RedWedge and CounterPunch.

Mark Gadson

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Mark Gadson graduated with a Master's degree in Public Administration from Northern Michigan University in 1996. He is a doctoral candidate at Western Michigan University. Mark has been a faculty member at South Texas College since 2005 and has been an active member of the Women’s Studies Committee and the annual human trafficking conferences since 2010.