Opening Address

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. 

Keynote Speakers

Fernando Garcia-Robles

Coordinator, Anti Trafficking in Persons Department of Public Security Secretariat for Multidimensional Security, Organization of American States (OAS)

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Professional with diversified expertise in the public, private and non-for-profit sectors. Mr. Garcia-Robles designs, monitors, and implements OAS anti-trafficking in persons (aTIP) programming; oversees the implementation of aTIP projects and activities in the areas of prevention, prosecution of criminals, and the protection of trafficked victims. Mr. Garcia-Robles, maximizes the aTIP efforts of financial donors, governments and other international organizations. He provides aTIP training, capacity building and awareness-raising to OAS member States. Mr. Garcia-Robles, a former career diplomat, has extensive experience in the areas of combating organized crime, multilateral security and policy reform agreements.  He received a Masters degree in International Public Policy from the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) -Johns Hopkins University and a Masters degree in International Peace Studies from the Joan B. Kroc Institute, University of Notre Dame. Mr. Garcia-Robles has been a recipient of two fellowships: one on Conflict Analysis and Resolution at Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden; and the other on Problems and Threats to Peace at the Peace University, Stadshlaining, Austria.

Kirsta Leeburg 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.

Featured Speakers

Óscar Martínez

Reporter for El Faro

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After working as a freelance reporter in Mexico, Óscar Martínez joined El Faro in 2008 to help carry out an in-depth investigation of Central American migration across Mexico. The original edition of his book Los migrantes que no importan was published in 2010 by Icaria and El Faro. 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: Riding the Rails and Dodging Narcos on the Migrant Trail.

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. In August 2015, Martínez and a colleague were forced to leave the country for three weeks after receiving repeated death threats for an investigation into the murder of eight alleged gang members by the police.

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 third book, called A History of Violence, was released in March 2016. In July 2016, Martínez was also awarded the University of Colombia’s Maria Moors Cabot Prize, which honors journalists for their outstanding coverage of the Americas.

Esperanza Jorge Barbuzano

Social Educator and Creative Writer, Universidad de Sevilla, Spain

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Esperanza Jorge Barbuzano, is a Social Educator, possesses a master's degree in Creative Writing from the University of Seville and in Heritage Rehabilitation by the by the International Foundation for the Conservation of Heritage-CICOP. She also has Specialist Course training in Social Intervention in Theater by the Pablo de Olavide University. Currently she is a PhD candidate in the Interdisciplinary Gender Program at the Autonomous University of Madrid and is currently working in Nigeria on topic of trafficking in persons, female genital mutilation and gender violence as staff of the NGO ‘Mujeres entre Mundos’. She recently studied and completed, research in the project known as "Trafficking in persons, comprehensive health and care: Cross-border women in transit from Morocco to Andalusia" from the Pablo de Olavide University, funded by the Andalusian Agency for International Development Cooperation, AACID (2014-2017). She has participated in various conferences and seminars as both translator and speaker as well as in talks and training courses. Moreover, she has published in books and magazines. Throughout her professional career in academia and social activism, she has opted to use research designs and methodologies that encourage the elaboration of discourses through artistic tools. Her current dissertation work is also an example of this. Finally, she is co-director, together with Inmaculada Antolínez, of the documentary "Irioweniasi. El hilo de la luna", which seeks to make visible the voices and proposals of young Nigerian girls who migrate to Europe through linked trafficking networks for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

Esperanza Jorge Barbuzano, Educadora Social, con Máster oficial en Escritura Creativa por la Universidad de Sevilla y en Rehabilitación de Patrimonio por el CICOP, y Curso de Especialista en Intervención Social a través del Teatro por la Universidad Pablo de Olavide. Actualmente doctoranda en el Programa Interdisciplinar de Género de la Universidad Autónoma de Madrid y trabajando en Nigeria sobre trata de personas, mutilación genital femenina y violencia de género como personal de la ONG Mujeres entre Mundos. Como última actividad investigadora y recientemente finalizada, investigadora en el proyecto "Trata de personas, salud integral y cuidados: Mujeres transfronterizas en tránsito de Marruecos hacia Andalucía" de la Universidad Pablo de Olavide, financiado por la Agencia Andaluza de Cooperación Internacional al Desarrollo, AACID (2014-2017) Ha participado en diversos Congresos y Seminarios como comunicadora y ponente así como en charlas y cursos de formación, habiendo publicado en libros y revistas. A lo largo de su trayectoria profesional en la academia o en la intervención social ha apostado por el diseño y la utilización de metodologías que propicien la elaboración de discursos a través de las herramientas artísticas. Su proceso actual de tesis es igualmente un ejemplo de ello. Por último, es co-realizadora, junto con Inmaculada Antolínez, del documental "Irioweniasi. El hilo de la luna" que busca visibilizar las voces y propuestas de las jóvenes nigerianas que migran hacia Europa vinculadas a redes de trata con fines de explotación sexual.

Inmaculada Antolínez Domínguez

Social Anthropology Professor, Univisidad Pablo de Olavide, Spain

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Inmaculada Antolínez Domínguez possesses a Bachelor’s degree in Social Anthropology and a PhD from the Pablo de Olavide University. Currently, she is Associate Professor in the Department of Social Anthropology, Basic Psychology and Public Health Department at Pablo de Olavide University. She is also the researcher coordinator of the MIGRANTES project, which examines the African immigrant women with dependent children in northern Morocco from the Sevilla Acoge Foundation. Inmaculada has been a researcher in the Training Program for Bilingual Teachers of the Peruvian Amazon known as Formación de Maestros Bilingües de la Amazonía Peruana-FORMBIAP- and in the General Coordination of Indigenous Community Secondary Schools in Oaxaca within Mexico. Furthermore, she has held stays at the Universidad Veracruzana, the Center for Research and Higher Studies in Social Anthropology (CIESAS) in Mexico, at the Texas Center for Education Policy (TCEP) in Texas and the University of Wisconsin-Madison (United States). Since 2006, she has participated in projects on intercultural education and community participation in Andalusia and Oaxaca. As of 2014, she has been part of the project on "Trafficking in Persons, Integral Health and Care: Cross-border women in transit from Morocco to Andalusia" funded by the Andalusian Agency of International Cooperation for Development (AACID). Furthermore, her lines of research and social commitment are migration, intercultural education and recently human trafficking. In these subjects, she also has done several conferences, seminars/lectures and awareness activities. She is currently co-director, with Esperanza Jorge, of the documentary "Irioweniasi. El hilo de la luna," which seeks to make visible the voices and proposals of young Nigerian girls who migrate to Europe linked through trafficking networks for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

Licenciada en Antropología Social y Doctora por la Universidad Pablo de Olavide. Profesora Asociada en el Departamento de Antropología Social, Psicología Básica y Salud Pública de la Universidad Pablo de Olavide. Actualmente, investigadora coordinadora del proyecto MIGRANTES. Mujeres africanas inmigradas con menores dependientes en el norte de Marruecos de la Fundación Sevilla Acoge. Inmaculada ha sido investigadora en el Programa de Formación de Maestros Bilingües de la Amazonía Peruana (FORMBIAP) y en la Coordinación General de Secundarias Comunitarias Indígenas en Oaxaca (México). Ha realizado estancias en la Universidad Veracruzana, en el Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social (CIESAS) en México, el Texas Center for Education Policy (TCEP) en Texas y la Universidad de Wisconsin-Madison (Estados Unidos). Desde el año 2006 ha participado en proyectos sobre educación intercultural y participación comunitaria en Andalucía y Oaxaca y desde 2014 siendo parte del proyecto sobre "Trata de Personas, salud integral y cuidados: mujeres transfronterizas en tránsito de Marruecos hacia Andalucía" financiado por la Agencia Andaluza de Cooperación Internacional al Desarrollo (AACID). Sus líneas de investigación y compromiso social son las migraciones, la educación intercultural y recientemente la trata de seres humanos. En estas materias tiene varias publicaciones y presentaciones en congresos así como charlas y actividades de sensibilización. Es co-realizadora, junto con Esperanza Jorge, del documental "Irioweniasi. El hilo de la luna" que busca visibilizar las voces y propuestas de las jóvenes nigerianas que migran hacia Europa vinculadas a redes de trata con fines de explotación sexual.

Cruz Salucio

Coalition of Immokalee Workers

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Cruz Salucio is a key leader of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW). Mr. Salucio worked for years in the fields of Florida and along the East Coast harvesting tomatoes, watermelon, and other crops. Today, as a part of the Fair Food Program, Mr. Salucio and his colleagues conduct workers’ rights education in the fields on all farms participating in the Program. Mr. Salucio directs the CIW's community radio station and community communications, and throughout the year facilitates and conducts dozens of popular education trainings for weekly membership meetings. Finally, Mr. Salucio represents the CIW at a national level, speaking publicly on the challenges faced by farmworkers in Florida, both during major actions with thousands of consumers and in dozens of presentations throughout the year.

Daniel Castellanos

Organizer and Founding Member of the National Guest Worker Alliance

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After arriving in exploitative conditions as an H-2B guest worker after Hurricane Katrina, Daniel Castellanos organized with other guestworkers in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast and helped found the National Guestworker Alliance, now a national membership organization of guestworkers that fights for dignified work and just migration.  He is a recognized expert on U.S. guestworrer programs and has worked with thousands of guestworkers to improve their workplace conditions  in the Gulf Coast and across the country.  He consults regularly with U.S. policymakers and has testified before Congress on effective enforcement models within the U.S. Department of Labor.  Daniel holds a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Herzig Univeristy and currently researches questions of workplace enforcement for migrant workers from the perspective of various stakeholders in home and destination countries.  Daniel is from Peru and is the proud father of two teenagers.  


Benjamín Alfaro Velázquez


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Benjamín Alfaro Velázquez was born in the city of Tapachula, Chiapas, on the border of Mexico with Guatemala; where he has lived for 35 years. He has been a journalist since 2005. Early on in his career, he was a photographer and a local television reporter. In 2008, he ventured into the production of a documentary that portrayed the Central American migration through southern Mexico and that was broadcast by the Public Television of Germany.

In 2011 and 2012, he held the position of spokesperson in the Specialized Prosecutor's Office in Crimes Committed against Immigrants (FEDCCI), the first of its kind in Latin America. In the years to follow he has dedicated himself to independent journalism reporting from the border with Guatemala to international agencies such as Xinhua, RT, AFP, EFE; as well as for the television stations UnoTv and Univision, on issues of binational security, migration, human trafficking, forced displacement, zapatismo and indigenismo.

In recent years, due to the tightening of immigration policies in the United States and subsequently in Mexico, journalists and international correspondents focused their attention to the border with Central America; so his work was necessary in the search for stories of Guatemalan, Honduran, Salvadoran, Cuban, Haitian, African migrants whom were in transit through the pacific route, the jungle route and even the maritime route.

His collaboration with journalists includes interns from the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF), the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting (AZCIR), and the Washington State University of Washington. From Tapachula he has also been a facilitator of Amnisty International (AI) in the investigations of the migration of Cubans, asylum seekers and the deadly deportation of Central Americans to whom the National Institute of Migration (INM) does not allow them to access asylum.

As a television producer, he has worked with Univisión, Al Jazzera, ARD and production houses in Spain, Holland, Argentina and the United States; with the filming of migration in the states of Tabasco, Chiapas, Oaxaca and the border area of ​​Guatemala with Mexico.

He participated in the production of the documentary “Towards The North”, which tells the story of a mother and daughter fleeing the extreme violence of gangs in Honduras; recently presented at the Santa Bárbara International Film Festival. Also in the series “South to North: Migrant Children,” which portrays the dangers that unaccompanied children and adolescents in Central America have to go through in transit through Mexico. The latter won the award in its category in the 45th Edition of the International Emmy Awards.

He is currently a national correspondent for the Mexican newspaper El Financiero, specializing in migration research and the southern border.

Benjamín Alfaro Velázquez nació en la ciudad de Tapachula, Chiapas, en la frontera de México con Guatemala; donde ha radicado 35 años. Periodista desde el año 2005. En sus inicios fue fotógrafo y reportero de televisión local. En el 2008 incursiono en la producción de un documental que retrato la migración Centroamericana por el sur de México y que fue trasmitido por la Televisión Pública de Alemania.

En el 2011 y 2012 ocupó el cargo de vocero en la Fiscalía Especializada en Delitos Cometidos en Contra de Inmigrantes (FEDCCI), la primera de su tipo en América Latina. En los años posteriores se ha dedicado al periodismo independiente informando desde la frontera con Guatemala para agencias internacionales como Xinhua, RT, AFP, EFE; así como para las televisoras UnoTv y Univision, en temas de seguridad binacional, migración, tráfico humano, desplazamiento forzado, zapatismo e indigenismo.

Durante los últimos años debido al endurecimiento de las políticas migratorias en los Estados Unidos y subsecuentemente en México, periodistas y corresponsales internacionales enfocaron su atención en la frontera con Centro América; por lo que su desempeño como fixer fue necesaria en la búsqueda de historias de migrantes Guatemaltecos, Hondureños, Salvadoreños, Cubanos, Haitianos, Africanos; en tránsito por la ruta del pacifico, la ruta de la selva e inclusive la ruta marítima. 

Su colaboración con periodistas incluye a becarias de la International Women´s Media Foundation (IWMF), Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting (AZCIR), la Universidad Estatal de Washintng DC. Desde Tapachula también ha sido facilitador de Amnisty International (AI) en las investigaciones de la migración de cubanos, los solicitantes de refugio y la mortal deportación de centroamericanos a quienes el Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM) no les permite acceder al asilo.

Como productor de televisión ha trabajado con Univisión, Al Jazzera, ARD y casas productoras de España, Holanda, Argentina y Estados Unidos; con el rodaje de la migración en los estados de Tabasco, Chiapas, Oaxaca y la zona fronteriza de Guatemala con México.

Participó en la producción del documental Towards The North, que cuenta la historia de una madre y su hija que huyen de la violencia extrema de las pandillas en Honduras; presentado recientemente en el Santa Bárbara International Film Festival. Así también en la serie South to North: Migrant Children, en la que se retrata los peligros que niñas, niños y adolescentes centroamericanos no acompañados tienen que pasar en su tránsito por México. Está última fue premiada en su categoría en la 45a Edición de los International Emmy Awards.

Actualmente es corresponsal nacional del periódico mexicano El Financiero, especializándose en temas de investigación de migración y la frontera sur.

Dr. Blanca Esponda

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Born in a rural farm of Chiapas, the southernmost state of Mexico, neighboring Guatemala, as a child she raised consciousness about social inequalities, due to her surrounding extremely poor indigenous environment. Having suffered Poliomyelitis, she was acquainted with pain and suffering, like many other children with no medical services or assistance.  Her family moved to Mexico City due to violent social conflicts and the lack of safety.  In high school she formed students’ brigades to teach poor families living close to her school how to read and write, and also joined the Federal Department of Health’s efforts for vaccination against Polio to poor children. She furthered her academic training thanks to a scholarship granted by the USA government to study Liberal Arts in Park College, Missouri. Upon her return to Mexico, she graduated as a Lawyer at the National University (UNAM), and later a grant by the German government (DAAD) allowed her to study a Juris Doctor’s in Public Law, at the University of Munich (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet-Munchen) Germany. To this date she attends seminars and courses on different social, legal and political issues.  At the same time, she enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience with the youth making presentations and giving lectures at universities.

Back to Mexico in 1972, she wanted changes to take place in society, so she engaged educating postgraduate students at her law school.  At the same time, she began her public service career in the Federal Department of Labor, as Chief of International Relations and became acquainted with the International Labor Organization (ILO) of the United Nations (UN), as well as with other Latin American organizations like the Organization of the American States (OAS) based in Washington, D.C. She started dealing with social and labor issues, such as women workers’ rights, indigenous peoples’ rights, formation of cooperatives, labor standards (minimum wage, health risks at work, prohibition of child labor, professional training, collective bargaining, freedom of association, among others) both for private companies and public offices.  She had to respond to international requests made by the ILO about the government’s compliance of its obligations derived from the ratified international conventions and recommendations adopted. She took part in the UN and its bodies like the ECOSOC, the ILO, and also at the OAS international annual conferences, presenting the official position of the Mexican government and in specific workshops. 

She engaged the follow up of the 1965-Declaration to Eliminate Discrimination against Women adopted by the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). Consequently, at the ILO where she participated, in Geneva she was part of the study group on the status of women workers’ rights worldwide and presented it for discussion and approval at the First World Conference on Women-to Eliminate Discrimination-(1975, Mexico City). Later, she also participated assisting with the elaboration of position papers on each of the items of the agenda for the Mexican delegations, presented to the Second World Conference on Women (1980, Copenhagen) where the UN Decade  for Women was adopted.  She attended the Third World Conference on Women-to Review and Appraise the Achievements of the UN Decade for Women (1985, Nairobi, Kenya), where NGO’s participated for the first time with around 12,000 women. But after 10 years of declarations, women were urged for more effective action and a major presence of NGO’s took place at the Fourth International Conference on Women-Action for Equality, Development and Peace (1995, Beijing, China). More than 17,000 participants attended (6,000 government delegates, 4,000 accredited NGO representatives, 4,000 media representatives and a parallel NGO Forum outside Beijing was held with 30,000 participants).  Governments finally heard the voice of those women.   At every World Conference a Declaration was adopted, but in Beijing a Platform for Action, as an Agenda for Women’s Empowerment, as a key global policy document on gender equality was adopted.  It sets strategic objectives for the advancement of women and the achievement of gender equality in 12 critical areas of concern: women and poverty, education and training of women, women and health, violence against women, women and armed conflict, women and the economy, women in power and decision-making, institutional mechanism for the advancement of women, human rights of women, women and the media, women and the environment and the girl-child.  She attended international conferences at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), mainly to forward sexual and reproductive rights for women and to prevent adolescent pregnancies. In ECOSOC the social agenda was extensive covering the majority of the social issues of interest to women, children, indigenous populations and minority groups. She also engaged in diplomacy, since she was appointed Commercial Attaché at the Mexican Embassy in Cuba as well as Minister Counsellor at the Mexican Embassy in Brussels before the Kingdom of Belgium and the European Community, particularly the European Parliament, where she strengthened the presence of Mexico.

Finally, during 15 years she was selected in her individual capacity as the first Mexican, member of the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEARC) of the ILO, with the responsibility of reviewing the labor and social standards in each member state committed to after ratifying specific conventions.  It took many hours of hard work to advance globally the rights of women’s equal pay and non discrimination at the workplace; the protection of indigenous tribes of the Amazons-the Yanomamis- against the garimpeiros (gold searchers) by the government of Brazil; the recognition of the indigenous Mapuche people of Argentina and Chile; and also the poor excluded tribal groups in countries of South East Asia and India, as in the Philippines, Malaysia, Bangladesh and India. Through the Committee she was able to have governments change their Constitution and laws to include and protect them and their rights as established by Convention 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries. Sanctions to the governments took place with political, diplomatic and economic measures, with the cooperation of the Breton Woods institutions, like the World Bank.

She influenced and contributed to change the legal framework for the empowerment of women in Mexico.  She became the first woman Senator from Chiapas at the National Senate, where she was elected President of the Senate in 1989.  Prior to that she was a Federal Representative for two terms and later, also a Representative for two terms in the State Congress of Chiapas where she was elected President.  During her tenure as a lawmaker, she formed the Committee on Women; the Committee on Population and Development; and was active in the Committees of Foreign Relations, Appropriations, Budget and Labor.  She presided over binational delegations with other parliamentarians and including Congress members of the United States, Canada, Spain, Germany, Guatemala, Cuba, Honduras and Colombia. She was President of the Inter Parliamentary Group on Population (IPG) based in New York City and also President of the International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere (IPPF/WH) and Secretary to the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) which brings together most parliamentarians of the world.  She organized with these bodies several workshops, seminars, colloquiums, regional and international conferences to raise awareness about women’s political rights; indigenous peoples’ rights. 

As a lawmaker she presented bills to develop and empower women’s electoral rights, working rights and in general human rights for all the disadvantaged that she has fought for since she was a small girl. She worked in the elaboration of the National Women’s Program and she is Co-founder of the National Institute for Women of Mexico, later was appointed as a member of the Institute’s Social Council. At the State Congress she was President of the Committee for Peace and Reconciliation, formed to end the conflict with the insurrected Zapatista Liberation Army. In this Committee, she was able to further the indigenous peoples’ agenda – in the Constitution and rulings, as well as in public policy - in agreement with Convention 169 of the ILO which is legally binding and the Declaration of the United Nations on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights.

Her most satisfactory action was when working at the city and state levels.  She was instrumental in designing and executing public policies in accordance with the committed assistance of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), we aligned the Six-Year State Development Program to the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s), particularly to reach all children for health and education programs with the assistance of UNICEF; to reach many women to raise their awareness and self esteem with the assistance of UNIFEM; and to bring to them general health programs, as well as sexual and reproductive health with the assistance of UNFPA, consequently reducing maternal deaths, child mortality at birth and incrementing their life expectancy; to enhance specific policies to allow the indigenous people to have their internal autonomy in government, economic and social development in terms of Convention 169 with the assistance of the ILO; and to manage and solve ancient conflicts concerning land ownership disputes due to the differences of two coexisting legal systems – indigenous and constitutional. 

She was instrumental for the strengthening of the institutional framework of the State government with the creation of the Department for the Empowerment of Women in order to implement policies and monitor the advancement of the status of women from birth to old age; the Department of Labor to implement labor and social policies and to monitor the compliance of worker’s rights and the advancement of Decent Work for All, including the indigenous, peasant and domestic labor force; and the Council to Protect Women Against All Forms of Violence as established by the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women – Convention Belem do Para.  

The professional exposure to the UN, its specialized agencies, the international NGO’s, as well as to the international women’s movement have been her support for seeing some of her dreams of justice come true for many underserved populations, in her home state Chiapas, in Mexico, in Latin America and in other countries of the world.

McAllen, Texas - October 2017



Dr. Helen Mireles

Immigration Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, Special Agent in Charge, San Antonio, TX

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Helen Mireles, Ph.D., LMSW, Victim Assistance Specialist, Immigration Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, Special Agent in Charge, San Antonio, TX.    


Dr. Helen Mireles has been a Victim Assistance Specialist with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), SAC (Special Agent in Charge) San Antonio, for over seven years.  Dr. Mireles supports the SAC’s areas of responsibility which includes offices in Del Rio, Eagle Pass, Laredo, Falcon Dam, McAllen, Harlingen, Brownsville, Austin, and San Antonio. She works closely with HSI Special Agents to identify, rescue, and restore victims of human trafficking and other crimes. She provides victim assistance services, including but not limited to, crisis intervention, short term counseling, referral and coordination of social services nationally and internationally, facilitating U and T visa law enforcement certification requests, and continued presence parole. Her responsibilities also extend to community outreach, internal and external victim education, and as a victim assistance training instructor for HSI’s International Law Enforcement Academy. She is currently assigned to HSI’s Human Exploitation and Child Pornography Unit.    

Prior to her HSI position, Dr. Mireles was a Supervisory Asylum Officer and an Asylum Officer for eighteen years with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Houston Asylum Office, Houston, TX. She also worked for the State of Texas as a Child Protective Specialist, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, and Caseworker for Disabled Children.

Dr. Mireles holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work and Ph.D. in Leadership/ Management studies.  She is a long standing member of the Alamo Area Coalition Against Trafficking in San Antonio, TX, the Central Texas Human Trafficking Task Force in Austin, TX and the Rio Grande Valley Human Trafficking Coalition in McAllen, TX.

Kelley McCormick

Assistant Criminal District Attorney, Border Prosecution Unit-Texas Anti-Gang Group, 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.

Melissa del Bosque


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Melissa del Bosque is an award-winning journalist and Lannan reporting fellow with The Investigative Fund. She is the author of Bloodlines: The True Story of a Drug Cartel, the FBI and the Battle for a Horse-racing Dynasty. She has written about the U.S.-Mexico border since 1998 for various media outlets, including the Guardian, and Time. Her work has also been featured on Democracy Now, PBS, MSNBC, the BBC, and NPR. She has reported on topics including border militarization, economic inequality, the plight of unaccompanied migrant children in Mexico, and asylum seekers in the United States.

In 2016, del Bosque won the Hillman Prize for her investigative feature "Death on Sevenmile Road" about the militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border. In 2015 del Bosque’s four-part series with the Guardian on migrant deaths in South Texas won an Emmy and a National Magazine Award. Her 2012 investigative feature about massacres in the Juarez Valley, Mexico, was a National Magazine Award finalist and won awards from both the Association of Alternative News Media and the Pan American Health Organization.

Norma Lacey

Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)

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Norma E. Lacy has accepted the position of Community Relations Officer for ICE – Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA). Ms. Lacy served as a Special Assistant to the Field Office Director in San Antonio since November 2005. She previously held the position of Community Relations Officer for Legacy INS and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in Houston, Texas from 2002 to 2005. Prior to that, Ms. Lacy served as a Community Relations Officer and Public Affairs Officer with the Department of Justice for the U. S. Attorney’s Office.

In addition to her service with the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice, Ms. Lacy worked as a Paralegal Specialist for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the District Counsel’s Office for the Veterans Administration. 

Ms. Lacy serves as the liaison for community-based organizations, law enforcement offices, state and local elected officials, governmental agencies, attorneys, key government officials, industry representatives, other stakeholders and the general public. 

Her most challenging and yet fulfilling career undertakings, was the Victoria human smuggling case under Legacy INS. The case resulted in the death of 17 immigrants who were left in a stranded 18-wheeler near Victoria, Texas. Ms. Lacy was involved in assisting HSI to identify the deceased victims and to notify the consulates and the families. She worked with ERO to provide adequate housing for the surviving adults and children. Ms. Lacy worked with Legacy INS managers, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the community organizations to facilitate benefits to the survivors where warranted.

Stacie Jonas

Managing Attorney for Texas RioGrande Legal Aid’s (TRLA) Human Trafficking Team

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Stacie Jonas is the managing attorney for Texas RioGrande Legal Aid’s (TRLA) human trafficking team, which provides comprehensive legal services to survivors of labor and sex trafficking in Texas and to farmworker survivors in six southern states.  In addition to assisting survivors of trafficking on applications for immigration relief, she has represented dozens of survivors in civil lawsuits and administrative agency proceedings against their traffickers.  She currently represents workers who have experienced other forms of workplace abuse, as well.  Prior to joining TRLA’s Austin, Texas office, Ms. Jonas worked at Southern Migrant Legal Services (SMLS), a project of TRLA that serves migrant farmworkers in the South.  At SMLS, she litigated wage and hour, discrimination, trafficking, and other employment claims.  Ms. Jonas is a graduate of the Yale Law School and holds a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame.  She served as a law clerk to the Honorable Keith P. Ellison of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. 

Efrén C. Olivares

Director of TCRP’s Racial and Economic Justice Program

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Efrén C. Olivares is the Director of TCRP’s Racial and Economic Justice Program. He handles and supervises cases in state and federal court involving institutional discrimination, constitutional violations, immigrants’ rights, disability and economic rights, among others. Efrén is passionate about working to provide equality of opportunity to people regardless of their ethnic or racial background, and their economic or immigration status. He joined TCRP’s South Texas office in 2013 after working at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and at Fulbright & Jaworski, LLP before that. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Yale Law School.

Rosie Martinez,

Victims Unit Director, Hidalgo County District Attorney's Office

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Ms Martinez has trained thousands of professional individuals in special topics in violent crime. She has been a trainer at the Texas District & County Attorney’s Association Law Conference, St. Mary’s University, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Social Work Conference, National Organization for Victim Assistance National Conference, South Texas College Human Trafficking Conference, Texas Victim Services Association Advanced Academy for Victim Assistance and Annual Conference , Texas Council of Family Violence various state and local conferences and has taught at regional and local police academies.

She provides training to law enforcement officers, victim advocates, and crime victim liaisons, students, and the general public on special topics 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, victim advocacy, immigration relief for victims of crime, teen dating violence, and prevention.

Eduardo “Eddie” Canales

Director, South Texas Human Rights Center

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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.

Justin Tullius

Associate Executive Director at RAICES, Refuge and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services

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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.

Pedro Villarreal

Special Operations Supervisor, Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

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Pedro Villarreal has been working in the criminal justice field for 18 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 possesses a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and graduated in December 2017 with his Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice at the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley.

Daniel Rosas


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Daniel Rosas is editor of one of the most known and respected media in the Laredos region, (North of Mexico, South of Texas). He is in charge of the On-Line editions and was founder of the English version of In 2010 he was invited by the Texas A&M International University to teach a class about Social Media and Journalism. 

He has been assigning editor of Print-Edition of El Mañana (Nuevo Laredo, and Laredo, Texas). He has worked as journalist during the last 15 years, and has been recognized by independent organizations, like Culture of Lawfulness, as trainer for Mexico (2009). 

Daniel won a scholarship at Universidad Iberoamericana and Prensa y Democracia (Mexico, City), (2005), and participated in international seminars like Ipys, at Lima, Perú (2006) and as guest speaker at Florida International University (2008), and Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington DC, (2008).

In 2010, Daniel Rosas won an international contest and participated with a select group of journalist from 20 different countries in a tour to visit new Social Media organizations, visiting the headquarters of Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and the press departments of the White House.
Specializations: journalist, on line editor, Mexico-US border, team leader.

Daniel Rosas, es actualmente jefe de Investigaciones Especiales del Periódico El Mañana de Nuevo Laredo. Ha desempeñado diversos cargos, como jefe de edición on-Line, editor, y subdirector editorial.  Ha sido responsable de la coordinación de noticias locales y del equipo de reporteros. 

Es un periodista que ha dirigido uno de los periódicos más reconocidos de México. Con estudios en administración. Enfocado a la mejora de contenidos, con enfoque en un periodismo de calidad, mediante la profesionalización y el desarrollo de grupos de trabajo.

El Mañana de Nuevo Laredo es un medio independiente que cubre la frontera norte de Tamaulipas, y el Sur de Texas. Sirve a la comunidad con noticias de interés comunitario y periodismo responsable. Tiene una historia de 90 años desde su fundación, y actualmente se distribuye la edición impresa en los dos Laredos con un tiraje que supera los 20 mil ejemplares diarios, y más de 80 mil visitantes únicos diarios en su portal, que supera el millón de visitantes únicos por mes. Su alcance rebasa los laredos y tiene una fuerte presencia en ciudades como Monterrey, Ciudad de México y Guadalajara en México, y en San Antonio, Houston y el Valle de Texas.

Encarni Pindado

Documentary Photographer

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Encarni Pindado is a Spanish documentary photographer, based in Mexico. Since 2011 she has been working documenting social, cultural, political, and human rights issues, with a special emphasis in women migration.

She publishes in a wide range of media outlets in Europe and the U.S. such as: The Guardian, Al Jazeera, The Sunday Times, BBC, NPR, PRI, Fusion, Univision, El País and agencies like Reuters and EFE.  She also regularly works with NGOs such as Amnesty International, UNHCR, UNDP, International Red Cross, among others.

Encarni has been working for the last 7 years on a long-term project about Central American women migration, focusing on structural, cultural and physical violence as their migration experience, in the origin, transit and now she will start working in the destination, the U.S.

She has recently won a Grant by the IWMF to do an unreported investigation on forced laborer in the agricultural business in Texas.

In 2016, Encarni was part of a team that won a Gracie Award Women on the Media, awarded to NPR for her series #15girls, Encarni was the fixer and photographer for “The Surreal Reasons Girls Are Disappearing In El Salvador”

In 2014 she was also a finalist of the prestigious Humanistic Photography Award W. Eugene Smith for her work "The Other Face of Migration: Central American Women"

Lise Olsen

Investigative Reporter, Houston Chronicle

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Lise Olsen is an investigative reporter at the Houston Chronicle. Olsen, based in Houston since 2003, has more than 20 years’ experience specializing primarily in crime, corruption and human rights issues. Her many Texas investigations have included oilfield and refinery worker deaths, oil spills, deed scams, 1970s unsolved serial killings, rogue pill mills, VA guardianship scandals, sex-trafficking networks and judicial corruption sagas. Her reports have inspired laws and reforms, spurred official investigations and prosecutions, restored names to unidentified murder victims and freed dozens of wrongfully held prisoners. Olsen is an expert in data journalism and has taught and mentored other journalists throughout the U.S. and in Latin America. She also speaks Spanish and French.

Olsen served from 2007-2011 as a board member of the nonprofit Investigative Reporters & Editors and worked for IRE in Mexico City from 1996-98 as executive director of the two-year IRE-Mexico Project.

She has twice been named Texas APME’s Star Reporter of the Year, among other state and national journalism awards. She has taught both workshops and massive online open courses for the University of Texas’ Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas and for other organizations.

Lauren Renee Sepulveda

Assistant Criminal District Attorney Hidalgo County Criminal District Attorney’s Office, Felony Division

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Lauren Renee Sepulveda is a felony prosecutor with the Hidalgo County Criminal District Attorney’s Office. Her duties include the prosecution of felony offenses, including violent and capital felonies, as well as serving as the specialty court prosecutor for the Hidalgo County Veterans Treatment Court.

Lauren earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Texas A&M University’s Bush School of Government & Public Service in 2007 and her Juris Doctor from Baylor Law School in 2011. Since joining the District Attorney’s Office in 2013, her extracurricular focus has been on veterans’ treatment courts and substance abuse treatment and prevention. In 2017, she began speaking at TDCAA CLEs about the intersection of immigration and criminal law in regards to prosecuting crime when the victims or witnesses are undocumented.

Rajani Baniya

Program Manager, 3 Angels Nepal

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Rajani Baniya is the program manager at 3 Angels Nepal. She is also the founding member of this organization. She has extensive experience in social work and she is an advocate for anti-human trafficking in Nepal. She has been advocating as a social worker for last 10 years. Rajani has a dream to change the Nepali society in a way that rescue is no longer needed.

Niraj Phuyal

Branch Manager, 3 Angels Nepal

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Niraj Phuyal is the branch manager at 3angels Nepal, Kathmandu. He has been actively fighting to combat human trafficking in Nepal. He started to participate in anti-trafficking initiatives in Nepal at an early age of 20. His work focuses on the rehabilitation of rescued girls from brothels in India.

Dr. Marco Antonio Gutierrez

Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (UAM, México)

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Dr. Marco Antonio Rojo Gutiérrez holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (UAM, México). Additionally, he holds both master and doctorate in Social Economics. Dr. Rojo is an expert in social topics, technological changes and innovation. He is a consultant in the public and private sector in public welfare, efficiency, competitiveness and economic development. Furthermore, in 2016 the state of Campeche recognized Dr. Rojo for his contributions in public management. Currently, he works as a Research Professor at the Universidad Internacional Iberoamericana (UNINI, México).



Dr. Andres Padilla-Olviedo

South Texas College

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Dr. Andrés Padilla-Oviedo holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and a Master of Science in Mathematical Sciences from the University of Texas-Pan. In addition, he holds a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership with concentrations in Higher Education and Instructional Technology from Texas A&M University Corpus Christi-Kingsville. He has been teaching for the last 11 years mathematics, education and organizational leadership courses at the high school, college and university levels. He had published one book and a few articles related to diabetes, instructional strategies, technology in education and mathematics. In addition, he has presented in several international conferences in United States of America, Mexico and Europe. Currently, he serves as an Instructional Designer, F2F and Online Applying the QM Rubric facilitator, QM Master Reviewer, Course Review Manager, Program Reviewer and he teaches mathematics, education and organizational education courses at South Texas College.

Aaron Nelson

Reporter, San Antonio Express

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Mexico 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.

Marley Moynahan

Staff Member, Coalition of Immokalee Workers

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Marley Moynahan is a staff member with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and has been involved in the Fair Food movement for over a decade.  In addition to assisting with worker-to-worker rights and abuse prevention trainings within the CIW's Fair Food Program, Marley supports the CIW's community outreach and organizing, communications and development work.  Marley has also served as liaison between workers, employers and law enforcement, assisting with interviewing, investigation, and interpretation in egregious labor abuse and sexual violence cases taking place outside of the Fair Food Program.

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.

Clifton J. Skilbred

Patrol Agent in Charge Rio Grande Valley Sector U.S. Border Patrol U.S. Customs and Border Protection

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Clifton J. Skilbred is the Patrol Agent in Charge (PAIC) of the Rio Grande Valley Sector Intelligence Unit.

PAIC Skilbred entered on duty with the U.S. Border Patrol in Session 370 on March 23, 1998, at the Eagle Pass Station in Del Rio Sector. He was promoted to Supervisory Border Patrol Agent at the Brackettville Station in Del Rio Sector in 2006. In 2009, he accepted a position at Office of Border Patrol as an Operations Officer for the Mexico Desk within the Special Operations Division, Foreign Operations Branch. In 2010, PAIC Skilbred was promoted to the Assistant Chief of the Mexico Desk where he had oversight of international and interagency border security initiatives along the southwest border, acted as a liaison for the Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol to the Government of Mexico, and managed six national programs including the Border Safety Initiative and the International Liaison Unit. In 2012, and until the time that he accepted the position of Assistant Chief Patrol Agent in Rio Grande Valley Sector in November of 2013, he was assigned to the DHS Headquarters as a Senior Policy Advisor for the DHS Office of International Affairs-Mexican Affairs where he coordinated DHS’ international policy, security efforts, and border related matters concerning Mexico; developed, reviewed, negotiated and executed Department-level arrangements; represented the Secretary and individual DHS components at high-level meetings with Government of Mexico officials; and worked directly with domestic interagency partners on matters of DHS interest. Prior to being selected for his current position, PAIC Skilbred served as Assistant Chief Patrol Agent of Asset Forfeiture, Prosecutions, the Foreign Operations Branch, and as J3 of Operations for the Joint Task Force West – South Texas Corridor.

PAIC Skilbred is from Wisconsin, and his wife, Alejandra, who is originally from Monterrey, Mexico, were married in 2000. They live in the Edinburg area with their four children. In his spare time, Clifton enjoys the outdoors, flying and woodworking.

Jennifer Harbury

Human Rights Attorney, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid - TRLA

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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).

Irma Chapa

Communications Director for the U.S. Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley Sector, Section Chief of Strategic Communications for the Joint Task Force –West, South Texas Corridor

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Irma Chapa serves as the Communications Director for the U.S. Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley Sector and as the Section Chief of Strategic Communications for the Joint Task Force –West, South Texas Corridor. 

A native of Southeast Texas, Irma Chapa graduated from Sam Houston State University in 1993 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and a minor in Spanish.  Early in her career, she worked for three South Texas television stations before transitioning into public affairs, marketing, and sales. In 2003, she accepted the position of Director of Corporate Communications at Valley Baptist Health System in Harlingen, Texas overseeing a million dollar budget and implementing the communications strategy. 

In 2009, she left the private sector, transitioning to public service by joining CBP as the Congressional Affairs Liaison for the U.S. Border Patrol’s RGV Sector. In that role, she developed and led numerous outreach programs in the education and community engagement arenas, to include initiating a scholarship program titled “Youth of the Year” which aims to assist local high school students monetarily as well as prepare in their pursuit of a higher education. She has also overseen hundreds of tours and visits by high-ranking government officials to include Vice President Mike Pence’s recent trip to McAllen, Texas.

In 2014, Ms. Chapa was selected as the Communications Director for the RGV Sector with oversight of internal and external communications programs. She was recognized as a CBP Ambassador, awarded by then Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske for her role in the humanitarian crisis, as a team member of the Unaccompanied Alien Children Influx Response Team.

Today, Director Chapa continues to leverage her extensive intergovernmental and public relations experience to ensure effective communication to a workforce of over 3,000 employees as well as diverse community and legislative partners. She is the proud mom of two boys who attend local schools and they live in McAllen, Texas.

David Schultz Jr.

Border Patrol Agent

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David Schultz Jr. has five years of Law Enforcement experience and nine years as a first responder / Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). He is currently a member of the Joint Task Force – West South Texas Corridor, and a part of Operation Big Rig, a humanitarian effort involving several different agencies with the sole purpose of saving lives. He graduated from Rutgers University in 2011 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Criminal Justice.

Jose Ariel Retana Cantu

Full time Professor of Criminolgy and Forensic Science, 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 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 en la Unidad Académica Multidisciplinaria Reynosa Aztlán (UAMRA) de la Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas. Profesor titular EN LA Licenciatura en Criminología y 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. Colaborador del proyecto de Financiamiento Interno por la Universidad PFI-2014 “La Educación y la Capacitación para el Trabajo de las Mujeres en Prisión” 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. Participación en el libro Juventud y vulnerabilidad: Vidas al límite con capítulo de libro  Niñas, niños y adolescentes migrantes no acompañados: El caso de la frontera de Reynosa Tamaulipas, entre otros.

Dra. Karla Villarreal Sotelo

Full time Professor of Criminolgy and Forensic Science, Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas

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Jefa de La División de Estudios de posgrado e Investigación en la Unidad Académica Multidisciplinaria Reynosa- Aztlán de la Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas y profesor de tiempo completo. Miembro del SNI de Investigadores CONACYT, Nivel I.  Perfil PROMEP, catedrática de la Maestría en Criminología y Ciencias Forenses de la Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas. Líder del Cuerpo Académico de Criminología PROMEP UAT-CA-62- Criminología.  Integrante de la Red en Métodos Alternos y Solución de Conflictos, Miembro de la Red Temática Impartición de Justicia ante PROMEP. Miembro activo de la Red Regional de Investigación en Seguridad Pública y Desarrollo Social (REDSPDS) Integrante del CTA de la RED EN CIENCIA FORENSE CONACYT –UNAM. Con participación en diversos congresos nacionales e internacionales como ponente : Congreso Mundial De Mediación Y Cultura De Paz Colombia, 2016. Congreso internacional sobre criminalidad y sistemas de justicia penal en América Latina y el Caribe 2015. Congreso Latinoamericano de Sociología ALAS  Costa Rica, 2015. Annual Educational Conference Canadian Identification Society in Vancouver.  Crisis y emergencias en América latina Santiago de Chile, 14th. International symposium World Society of Victimology The Hague, Netherlands, 16 TH World Congress international society for Criminology  Kobe, Japan,13TH. International Symposium on victimology, Mito, Ibaraky, Japan.  Publicaciones : Consecuencias sociofamiliares de la prisionización en el Cedes de Reynosa Tamaulipas, José Luis Carpio Domínguez, Cynthia Marisol Vargas Orozco y Karla Villareal Sotelo, Revista de Historia de las Prisiones, ISSN 2451-6473, Número 4, 2017, Carjacking ¿Victimización generada por la delincuencia organizada en Reynosa Tamaulipas? Carolina Landero, Karla Villarreal, Cynthia Vargas y Martín Camacho. Revista Perspectivas Sociales, ISSN 2007-9265, Vol. 18, Número 2, 2016, Tamaulipas: estética y estilo de vida "narco" en la frontera, Karla Villarreal Sotelo, Revista arenas. ISSN: 20072333, Vol.AÑO16, Pag.4356, Revistas Arbitradas, 2015. Libros y Capítulos, Capítulo de Libro: Un petit peu de criminología y criminalística (2017). El estado del arte de las ciencias forenses en México. Edit. Tirant lo Blanch, ISBN 978-84-9143-731-4. Capítulo de Libro: Algo sobre Criminología y Criminalística (2017), en Tópicos selectos de Ciencias Forenses y Seguridad. Capítulo de Libro: Victimización de Género en el sistema penitenciario mexicano ante la reforma penal (2017) en Victimología y víctima de violencia de género una mirada iberoamericana, Edit. IURIS Universal, ISBN 9788494588150, entre otros. Proyectos de investigación investigación Apoyo a la Investigación en el Área Emergente de Ciencia Forense.. Diversos proyectos en Mediación penal y justicia restaurativa PROMEP 2015-2016, Investigación científica del delito CONACYT, Red de impartición de justicia (2008-2014)  Fondo: PROMEP.  Estudio Integral del sistema penitenciario Tamaulipeco en Población Femenina. Fondo PFI-UAT-2015.

Dra. Cynthia Marisol Vargas Orozco

Full time Professor of Criminolgy and Forensic Science, Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas

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Doctorado en Administración Pública por la Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas, profesor de tiempo completo de la misma universidad, cuenta con perfil PRODEP. Actualmente se desempeña como Coordinadora de la Carrera de Licenciado en Criminología de la UAT UAMRA. Integrante del Cuerpo Académico UAT-CA-62 “CRIMINOLOGÍA”. Participa en la línea LGAC “Criminología y Ciencias Forenses”. Ha participado en los siguientes proyectos como colaborador con los integrantes del Núcleo Académico Básico de la Maestría en Criminología y Ciencias Forenses: “La investigación científica del delito” “Redes Temática de Impartición de Justicia 3er. año” y en el proyecto PFI-2014 “La Educación y la Capacitación para el Trabajo de las Mujeres en Prisión”. Red Temática de Ciencias Forenses Conacyt, Cuenta con diversos artículos, libro y capítulos de libros en temáticas de Migración, mujer en prisión, violencia entre otros. Es miembro de la miembro del sistema nacional de investigación nivel candidato.

Dr. Andrés Sumano

Catedrático CONACYT y Profesor-Investigador de El Colegio de la Frontera Norte

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El Dr. Andrés Sumano es actualmente Catedrático CONACYT y Profesor-Investigador de El Colegio de la Frontera Norte.  Además, es Secretario Técnico de la Red Temática CONACYT "Políticas Públicas para la Prevención de Adicciones y Seguridad Ciudadana".  Cuenta con un Doctorado en Política Pública por el Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey y con una Maestría en Administración Pública y Política Pública por la misma institución.  También cursó dos programas de educación ejecutiva en innovación gubernamental y política pública en la Kennedy School of Government de la Universidad de Harvard.  En el sector público ha sido Titular del Centro Estatal de Prevención del Delito en Nuevo León, Asesor del Comisionado Nacional de Seguridad de México, Asesor del Secretario de Seguridad Pública de México y Director de Seguridad Internacional del CISEN.  

Dr. Oscar Misael Hernandez-Hernandez

Sociólogo y doctor en antropología social por El Colegio de Michoacán, y profesor investigador en El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, sede Matamoros

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Sociólogo y doctor en antropología social por El Colegio de Michoacán. Actualmente es profesor investigador en El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, sede Matamoros. Su línea de investigación es sobre migración, cultura y violencia en las fronteras de México. Fue coordinador de los libros Riesgos en la migración de menores mexicanos y centroamericanos a Estados Unidos (2016) y Migrantes allá y acá. Mujeres y hombres en Estados Unidos y el noreste de México (2014), así como coautor del libro Migración y repatriación de menores mexicanos por la frontera Tamaulipas-Texas y autor del libro Historia, cultura y masculinidades en Tamaulipas (2013). En el 2015 participó como investigador asociado en el Proyecto: “Immigration Policy and Children Right´s: Impacts of Repatriation of Unaccompanied Migrant Children from Mexico”, coordinado por la University of Texas at Austin, Texas State University and San Diego State University.  Mientras que del 2016 al 2017, participó en el Proyecto “Deporting Youth: The Effects of Trauma and Violence among Mexican Migrant Children”, financiado por el Programa de Investigación en Migración y Salud (PIMSA) y la University of California at Berkeley. Actualmente coordina el proyecto: “Imaginarios colectivos de la niñez y juventud migrante en la frontera Chiapas-Guatemala”, financiado por el Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología.  Por otro lado, de abril a junio del 2016 fue investigador Invitado en la University of Texas at Austin, Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies; mientras que de febrero a abril del 2017, fue investigador invitado en el Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social (CIESAS), Unidad Occidente.  Actualmente es coordinador del Laboratorio de Estudios sobre la Violencia en la Frontera (LEVIF), proyecto de El Colegio de la Frontera Norte. Asimismo, es nivel I en el Sistema Nacional de Investigadores.

Dr. Arun Kumar Archaya

Associate Professor of Anthropology Instituto de Investigaciones Sociales Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León

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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.

Jose Luis Carpio Dominguez

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,  trabajos de investigación científica básica y aplicada, en la líneas de Problemas Sociales- Criminología y Ciencias Forenses con énfasis en medio ambiente y crímenes ambientales, publicaciones científicas nacionales e internacionales. Catedrático de la Licenciatura en Criminología y de la Maestría en Criminología y Ciencias Forenses.

Arturo Zárate Ruiz

Researcher and Professor, El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, Matamoros

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Arturo Zárate Ruiz es doctor en Artes de la Comunicación, con especialidad en retórica.  Egresó de la Universidad de Wisconsin en Madison, en 1992.    Es investigador del Colegio de la Frontera Norte, con sede en Matamoros, desde 1993, y miembro del Departamento de Estudios Culturales. Estudia las argumentaciones y controversias sobre asuntos binacionales (México/Estados Unidos), por ejemplo, las relativas al libre comercio, la lucha contra el crimen organizado, la venta y consumo de drogas prohibidas, la migración, los derechos del agua, etc.  Es periodista desde los 14 años.

Arturo Zárate Ruiz earned a doctorate in Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1992.  His degree is in rhetoric.  Since 1993, he has been a researcher and a professor at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, at Matamoros.  He belongs to the Cultural Studies Department.  He studies the argumentation and debate associated to binational controversies (Mexico/United States), for example, the ones related to free trade, drug trafficking, law enforcement, immigration, water rights, etc.  He has been a journalist since he was 14 years old.

Sister Norma Pimentel

MJ, Catholic Charities

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Norma Pimentel is a sister with the Missionaries of Jesus and a licensed professional counselor. As Executive Director of Catholic Charities for the past 10 years, she oversees the charitable arm of the Diocese of Brownsville, providing oversight of the different ministries and programs in the areas of emergency assistance, housing assistance, military assistance, clinical counseling, and pregnancy care to all four counties in the Rio Grande Valley.

Sister Norma chairs the local Emergency Food and Shelter Program that distributes federal funds to local agencies providing assistance to the area’s poor. She also leads efforts in the community that respond to emergency needs and provide relief in times of disaster and crisis. She was instrumental in organizing community resources to respond to the surge of Central Americans seeking asylum in the United States and setting up Humanitarian Respite Centers in McAllen and Brownsville, Texas in June 2014.

These efforts brought Sister Norma recognition as a recipient of the 2015 Martin Luther King, Jr. “Keep the Dream Alive” Award from Catholic Charities USA and a nomination for “Texan of the Year.” In March, 2015, she spoke at the UN Headquarters in New York City at the invitation of the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations.

During the U.S. Papal visit, Sr. Norma met with Pope Francis in New York City and presented him with one of her original paintings which depicted an immigrant mother and child. She was first introduced to Pope Francis in August 2015 via a “virtual town hall” arranged by ABC news which later aired in a one-hour special edition of “20/20”.

In December 2015, Our Sunday Visitor named Sister Norma as one of eight Catholics in the Year, “men and women, religious and lay — who made an indelible mark in 2015.”

Before overseeing Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, Sister Pimentel was one of the leaders who directed Casa Oscar Romero, a refugee shelter in San Benito and later Brownsville for Central Americans fleeing their war torn countries in the 1980s. The shelter provided emergency relief and temporary housing for hundreds of thousands of refugees.

Sister Norma received 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, Texas, and a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Loyola University in Chicago, IL.

Jose Torres

Paralegal, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Farmwork Division

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Jose Torres has been a Paralegal with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc's (TRLA) Farmworker Division for close to 40 years now. As a legal advocate, through his capacity, he assists farmworkers on a broad range of employment issues, including assisting workers with discrimination, wage, housing, and other related claims. Mr Torres proudly serves the Rio Grande Valley along with Farmorker communities and will continue the fight for worker's rights.

Rachel Alvarez

Trafficking Senior Programs Manager, Refugee Service of Texas

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Rachel Alvarez, a social work graduate from the University of Texas Austin, is the Trafficking Senior Programs Manager, with Refugee Services of Texas. Rachel's work with trafficking survivors and victims began in 2010 where she worked with anti-trafficking NGO's in Latin America and South East Asia; here she accumulated valuable experience in understanding the global dimensions of trafficking and the plight of victims. In the U.S., Rachel’s experience in the field began 7 years ago where she served survivors of trafficking in Austin and Houston,Texas. Rachel continues to be involved in anti-trafficking Coalitions and Task Forces. She has and continues to work along side law enforcement in different sting operations; she assists victims upon identification from law enforcement or service providers; and she has assisted survivors in testifying against their trafficker in federal and state level prosecutions. Rachel now manages 5 anti-trafficking programs, providing direct services to foreign born and U.S. citizen victims in Austin, Fort Worth, Amarillo, Houston and RGV, where the main goal is to empower and help Survivors in their journey of attaining independent and self-sufficient lives.

Riya Ortiz

Lead Organizer and Case Manager of Damayan Migrant Workers Association

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Riya is the Lead Organizer and Case Manager in Damayan Migrant Workers Association. She handles cases of Filipino domestic and migrant workers with labor trafficking, fraud in labor contracting, domestic violence, and stolen wage cases, among others. She also organizes the trafficking survivors, helps develop them into social justice leaders, serves as the liaison for Damayan's partner lawyers, leads Damayan's anti-trafficking and modern day slavery campaign, supervises the other case manager and staff members, and represents Damayan in Beyond Survival. Damayan is one of the lead anchor organizations in Beyond Survival, the anti-trafficking campaign of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA).

As a queer immigrant Filipina and daughter of a domestic worker, Riya has 22 years of organizing experience in the Philippines and in the US, including Filipino domestic workers and their children. Prior to joining Damayan, she was the Founding Chairperson of the Gabriela Youth chapter, a Filipino women youth organization in her college in Manila, and a founding member of Ugnayan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (Linking the Children of the Motherland), a Filipino American youth organization in New York City.


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.

Dr. Maria Romero-Ramirez

Lecturer II, UT-RGV

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Dr. Maria Romero-Ramirez is a Lecturer II at the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley in the Department of Psychological Science. She earned her Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Rehabilitation Psychology. Her research interests include developmental psychology, mental health and health care disparities among racial and ethnic minority groups in the U.S., and attitudes toward people with mental, physical, and/or chronic disabilities. She recently co-authored a journal article titled “Acculturation and Substance Use Among a Mexican-American Sample”. Dr. Romero-Ramirez is currently teaching research methods in psychology, developmental psychology, and abnormal psychology. 

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.

Dr. Philip A. Ethridge

Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, UT-RGV

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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