Tips and tricks to Succeed in Grad School

Graduate School is hard, but here are some helpful tips we have collected from our students to help you through your journey.

  1.  Classes are discussion based. This means that during class, not only will ychildren-speaking-clipart-3ou be learning from your professor, but you also will be learning from your peers! Many of you have worked in the field or have lived what you are learning. This is valuable knowledge and should be shared with others.


  1. Feedback takes time. When submitting an assignment, it is typical that you do not receive a grade for a couple weeks. Do not worry! Professors just haclockve a lot to grade and grading takes time. If you have any questions about your grades in the class, you can always talk to your professors by emailing them or going to their office hours. They are here to help you and guide you through your thesis and reading assignments, so don’t be afraid or nervous to speak to them!


  1. Provide feedback to the program, your professors, and your peers. Everyone could benefit from feedback in order to make things better. The important thing to conspen and paperider is how you are providing others with feedback. When providing feedback, always come from a place of care instead of judgement. If you need help navigating how to provide feedback to the program, your professors, or peers, contact Aide Rodriguez, MIMS Program Manager, or previous students. Aide and students of previous cohorts are able to help you navigate these conversations and determine best practices for success.


  1. Use your professor’s office hours. There are times each week that your professor has dedicated to being in their office. Even if it is just to check-in or discuss the material presented in class, go to their office hours. They are there to help you and only want to see you succeed!


  1. Cura Personalis is important to USF. Cura Personalis–care for the whole person–describes the care and respect USF has for every individual’s intellectual, physical, and spiritual health and autonomy. To sum it up, USF cares about your holistic development, and understands that there is more to you than just being a student. Many of you have various responsibilities and being a stuspa daydent is only part of your identity. We understand that. That is why there are various resources on campus to help you.


  1. Graduate school is not easy. Although class schedules tend to accommodate traditional working hours, the amount of course work reflects that of a traditional graduate program. This means tstressed-out-student-clipart-4hat you will have a rigorous course load. Try speaking to previous cohort members to hear their experience!


  1. Believe in yourself and lean on your support system. Although challenging at times, remember you made it to this point in your life on your own accord. During challenging times, lean on your support systems, peers, professors, and staff. If you need more support, consider reaching out to CAPS for mental health and psychological services (see below for details) 


  1. Get involved! Although classes and coursework will keep you busy, use events, programs, and other opportunities to supplement your education. Learning in the peaceful-protest-clipart-2classroom is great, but, getting first-hand experience also helps you learn. So, get involved! Attend local rallies, protests, and get involved with local organizations. Even just showing up helps supplement your learning. San Francisco has so much to offer!


        9. Use University resources! There are plenty of resources at USF to help you succeed. All you need to know is exactly where to go.

Need help working on your interviewing skills, building a resume, or finding a job? Schedule an appointment with Career Services. Career Services can be found in the University Center on the 5th floor.interview clip art

 Need help finding an article for a research paper or figuring out how to cite properly? Ask a librarian by email, phone, in-person, or chat 24/7 on the library’s website.

 Need help editing a paper, preparing for an oral presentation or finding what studying method works best for you? Schedule an appointment with the Learning and Writing Center (LWC). The LWC can be found in the Library on the Lower Level.

 Need help with outside scholarships, loans, or school payments? Go to the Office of Financial Aid located in Lone Mountain on the 2nd clip art

 Need help navigating stress, anxiety or your general mental health? Schedule an appointment with Counseling and Psychology Services (CAPS). CAPS is located on the Lower Level of Gilson Hall.

Need help requesting accommodations during your time at USF? Schedule an appointment with Student Disability Services (SDS). SDS can be found in the Lower Level of Glee

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son Library.

 Need help figuring out where it is best for you to live during your time at USF? Schedule an appointment with Off-Campus Housing on the University Center on the 5th floor.

 Need help starting a club, connecting to other graduate students or getting involved on campus? Visit Student Leadership and Engagement in the University Center on the 4th floor

Where is Home?

Bio picMy name is Maraika Kuipers-Sharsher, I am a graduate student in the USF Master in Migration Studies Program with the hopes of becoming a refugee lawyer. Through this program, I have been exposed to many amazing learning opportunities and wanted to share one on our MIMS blog.

I attended a teach-in on Colonial Geographies *Border Crossing: Kashmir, Mexico, and Palestine, hosted by AMED (Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas) Studies at SFSU. AMED focuses on decolonizing research surrounding Arabs and Muslims and builds on comparative ethnic studies to address issues that affect communities of color. They engage with activists and students to follow a philosophy of scholarship and action, resisting imperialism and questioning the dominant political narrative that otherizes Arab and Muslim communities that permeate our scholarship, political policies, and histories.

MIMS Blog 2The teach- in combined two classes on “Edward Said” and “Comparative Border Studies: Palestine and Mexico.” There was a panel of distinguished professors including Dr. Huma Dar (UC Berkeley), Dr. Leslie Quintanilla (SFSU), and Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi (SFSU). We started the teach-in with the documentary Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies Arabs, by Jack Shaheen, and discussed how Arabs and Muslims are portrayed in the media; how the Arab image is tainted with orientalist ideas of faraway lands and barbaric men and how this has influenced scholarship in the fields of anthropology, philosophy, and history, among others.

In his landmark work Orientalism, Edward Said describes the calculated reduction of the Arab world and the vilification and dehumanization of the Palestinians as a result of the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. While Said fought to humanize Palestinian identity and rights, capitalizing on Palestinian resilience and the rejection of the human rights atrocities brought on by British, Israeli, and American imperialism, he played a central role in the evening’s discussion. Because orientalist thought is used as the basis for injustice, ethnic cleansing, and genocide, his philosophy can be applied to the situation in Indian occupied Kashmir, where the Indian government has instituted a lock down of the province—shutting off internet and phone service, as well as depriving Kashmiri Edward Said for blogMuslims of their citizenship, and detaining them indefinitely without cause. It can also be seen in the othering of Central Americans on the border of Mexico, US immigration policies banning Asylum for central Americans, Africans, and other people who made the treacherous trip to the border in search of safety. And, of course speaks to the Palestinian struggle to exist under Israeli occupation, where Palestinian villages are being destroyed, children are being arrested and tortured, and their identity is being erased. There is no doubt, Said’s work continues to serve as a beacon of light in the hopeless void of displacement and longing for home.

Along the course of the evening we also heard powerful stories of identity from Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi from her book, Arab and Arab American Feminisms: Gender, Violence and Belonging, where she courageously advocates for the indivisibility of justice and describes how complicated going home can be. She described how being an Arab Muslim in the U.S. post 9-11 affected her feelings of belonging in a land where she had previously felt considerably safe; and how that feeling changed with the surge in anti-Arab racism and the implementation of a war that has killed millions of Arabs, and continues to kill thousands more, each year.MIMS Blog

As Palestinians where is home? We have been barred from returning to our homes where our hearts and our memories reside. We will never stop fighting for our right to return, for our hopes to be realized, and our dignity restored. This sentiment can be shared by Kashmiris and others in the fears that they too will become permanent refugees, destined for a life of exile and longing. Now is the time to act. What is so unique about the MIMS program is that it teaches scholarship and action, exposes us to many migrant experiences, and lets us be creative in our research and specializations. We are already equipped with the compassion and determination to get us there, but with the mentorship and guidance from this program and others we can make an impact on peoples’ lives.

If you want to know more AMED, email: and subscribe to their mailing list to get updates on events and emerging scholarship in the field of Arab and Muslim studies. You may find the live stream is on the AMED Facebook page:

Experiences of Being a DACAmented Graduate Student at USF

erika landa

My name is Erika Landa Sarmiento. I am a DACAmented student born in Puebla, Mexico, and was brought to the United States at age two. Growing up, I set a goal for myself to be the first one in my family to graduate from a university. Last May, that dream became a reality when I graduated from California State University, Channel Islands, with a Bachelor of Arts in Chicana/o Studies.

I applied to graduate programs, because I was encouraged to do so by my mentors. Beyond obtaining a bachelor’s degree, I had never imagined what I would do or become. As long as I can remember being in this country, I have been in school but I did not really know “what happens” after completing K-12. School has always been a place where I can excel and achieve regardless of my legal status. Yes, there have been barriers and challenges, but I have power over my academic excellence. My education cannot be taken from me the day that I am removed from this country. I stand in a place of privilege everyday that I attend classes and work at this university; it is a privilege that is thanks to the undocumented students who have broken down barriers and to the allies that have stood with us. Barriers include the lack of financial resources, the opportunity to apply to private universities, and the ability to obtain in state tuition to name a few.

When I started the graduate program in Migration Studies, I didn’t have a set idea of what I was doing or why I would be doing such work. I had done previous research on Two-Spirit danzantes (dancers) as an undergraduate, and so I simply continued that work my first semester here. As an undocumented student, I was highly involved in my community, organizing local undocumented youth. By my last year as an undergraduate, I was already “burned out” when we received news that as DACA recipients, we would not be able to leave the country through advance parole any longer. I had applied to Dreamers Study Abroad through the California-Mexico Studies Center which took dreamers to Mexico for three weeks, three times, and that year I had finally been accepted. My dreams to return to my home country legally were shattered, and I left the movement, the organizing, the research, and anything else that involved my undocumented status. Everything that had to do with my “illegality” upset me and made me feel resentment towards my mother for bringing me to this country. In my eyes, all there was left to fix was giving us a pathway to citizenship until I arrived to USF. I began to experience new struggles as an undocumented graduate student and realized that I was not the only one. The same disappointment and struggle that had ignited me to organize as an undergraduate began to come back.

My program had offered me a scholarship and I had received a fellowship, as well as other scholarships that helped pay for the first semester here, but when the second semester came around, scholarships were much harder to obtain. Unlike other graduate programs here, mine did not have unique scholarships specifically for undocumented students. By the second semester, I only had enough funding for four units, a total of $5,540 which puts me at a place where I must catch up with my cohort in the summer. Being awarded over $18,000 in scholarships for my first academic year was a blessing, but also a hard realization that I must win that amount of money again to finish my degree. Tuition is one part of being an undocumented student, but there are more stress factors that aren’t necessarily visible. Being a student is only one layer of my identity, I am also a provider for my family. I have had to work three jobs to be able to support my education and my family since the departure of my father to Mexico. Having moments of doubt if my education should be a priority has placed my mental health in a bad place since the beginning of the program.

To my knowledge the School of Education has been the only one able to establish and give scholarships to undocumented graduate students. In addition, the students in the School of Law have raised money individually through the establishment of their own nonprofit organization. The politics of higher education spaces give little to no space for funding opportunities for students overall and much less for students without legal status. Granted, our program is fairly new and I am not sure how many undocumented students have voiced this concern. However, there have been financial resources such as the Magis Scholarship which awards undergraduates with $8,000 and graduates with $1,000. In the total scope of the cost of tuition at our university this is not enough to attend without the stress factor of finding other funding.

My own struggle, and those of my DACA colleagues, have led me to explore a fairly new area to this research topic. After speaking to Dr. William Perez Gonzalez, a well-recognized scholar on the topic of undocumented students, we concluded that what continues to be absent in the field is the experiences of undocumented graduate students. This includes the ways in which universities are supporting them: the unique challenges students face while in graduate school and solutions for long term academic success. Having to work with what is available and accessible to me has however taught me new skills. My program is extremely supportive of the work that I am doing and of my academic success, but there is only so much they can do as a program. Over the course of my remaining time here at USF, I hope to document the stories of undocumented graduate students, bring light to the issues undocumented graduate students face here at USF, and provide suggestions of the ways in which we think the university can better support us. I am excited to be able to contribute to the university I am attending and to be able to create accessible paths for the undocumented graduate students that are coming after me. To be able to give value and worth to every person that has fought for me to be here is my biggest motivation.

MIMS Cohort 3. Class of 2020.
MIMS Cohort 3. Class of 2020.

I want to end this post by highlighting how important it is to fund the education of graduate undocumented students at USF. We believe that change starts here in our university, we believe in social justice, and are leaders in our communities. We stand for those who don’t have a voice due to systems of oppression. If we are already finding undocumented students in the undergraduate path, I strongly believe that together we can do more to fill the gaps for graduate undocumented students. My community is full of knowledge, empowerment, and ready to be a part of the change USF is a part of.

A Weekend on the Border

Joseph Gomez Kramer_0Joe Kramer ’20 shares his experiences from the MIMS field trip to the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana, Mexico.


A lot can happen in three days. To describe that weekend as anything less than a journey would be an understatement. This journey was one of contradictions and juxtapositions that would make any American’s head spin. From October 12, 2018 through October 14, 2018 the 2020 cohort of Migration Studies students from the University of San Francisco spent the weekend in the border cities of San Diego and Tijuana.


Upon arrival in San Diego one does not feel much different than when walking around in the Bay Area. The streets are clean and the people hurry to and fro as they finish up their work week. The cohort was greeted at the airport by Jocelyn Olguin, a student representative from the University of San Diego. Jocelyn would be our guide and mediator to the border cities that would be our home for the next three days.

The first stop on this journey took us to Our Lady of Guadalupe Church where a round table was held by an assortment of immigration and community experts. The morning was spent discussing the realities surrounding immigration policy and community work in a border town like San Diego and the harsh realities that have become the norm with the election of Donald J. Trump as president. With the implementation of new immigration policy by the Trump administration, the work of educators, activists, social workers and the like has not only become more crucial but also exponentially more difficult. Despite these depressing realities, the morning ends on a high note with hope floating in the air. This hope stemmed from the knowledge that so many young people, are willing to step up to the challenge in order to make the lives of every migrant as good as they possibly can be.

After a tour of the historic Chicano Park neighborhood, and a lunch comprised of some of the best tacos in the city, the group prepared to cross the border on foot into Tijuana. Tensions were high as many in the group had never crossed an international border on foot before. Many in the group were unsure if it would be a smooth transition. Despite these apprehensions, the border crossing was surprisingly quick and easy. It verged on being cordial.

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The first thing that hits you when walking into a new place is the smell. Tijuana was no different. The smell of cooking meats, cigarette smoke, sewage and cologne filled the air. It was Friday night and most of the city was out in preparation for the weekend. These first few minutes showed the first of many odd juxtapositions of the weekend. The neighborhoods surrounding the border were poor, old and full of life. This was a far cry from the U.S. side of the border where sterile Starbucks and strip malls lead up to a border wall grey and foreboding. This theme would carry on throughout the weekend as the cohort explored more of the border city and longer sections of the infamous border wall.IMG-1748.PNG

Sunrise is different in every city. In Tijuana the sky turns a steel grey, streaks of navy blue breaking through the low clouds. The last remnants of a coastal nighttime sky. The only sound that can be heard is the crow of the rooster and the bark of the dog. After a night of rest at a Jesuit retreat center tucked up into the hills of Tijuana, the group made their way back into the city for a morning worth of work. The Desayunador del Padre Chava is a community center well known throughout Tijuana. It serves breakfast to the needy of the city and provides services such as doctor check-ups and things as simple as a haircut. The workforce of the Desayunador is comprised of young volunteers from around the city as well as the visitors from San Francisco.

After a morning of serving the people of Tijuana, the cohort convenes yet another round table, comprised of community leaders from the Mexican side of the border. Lawyers, community volunteers and a group of veterans share their stories of work on the other side of the border. Many of the hardships faced by these groups are mirrored on the American side of things, though there are distinct issues that remain uniquely Mexican. This provided the group with their first taste of perspective in regards to the struggle on the other side of the border.


One group in particular that must be discussed in some detail is the group of veterans mentioned above. The Deported Veterans group is a group comprised of American veterans that due to minor legal complications were designated deportable and sent across the border to Tijuana where many of them had never been before.

Robert Vivar headed this group of veterans from various branches of the United States military services. Each member had been born outside of the United States but had been brought over at a very young age. In order to naturalize, they had joined the military and become permanent residents. After their time in the service they returned home and many of them suffered from PTSD. With the VA unable to take care of them they resolved to medicate themselves through other means which led many into run-ins with the law. These encounters with law enforcement resulted in their status becoming “deportable” and subsequently led to their expulsion from the United States. They ended up in Tijuana and though their parents were of Mexican nationality, many of them have limited or no Spanish language capabilities and no family ties to assist with the transition. Though these men had seemingly been betrayed by the U.S. it was apparent that many of the men did not hold a grudge of blame the United States for their expulsion. They only wished to return home to the lives that had been left behind months or years before.



IMG-1745After the morning was concluded, the rest of the day was spent at the beach on the Tijuana side of the border wall. As one approaches the border from the street, giant murals with political messages and images appear larger than life. Names of men and women that have been deported were listed on the wall. The cohort half-expected the atmosphere of surrounding the wall to be similar to the mood on the U.S. side. This was not the case. In Tijuana one could see children playing and families eating together. Vendors sauntered up and down the boardwalk selling shrimp and other delicacies. The sound of music wafted from shops and boom-boxes nestled next to coolers on beach blankets. The overall mood was that of frivolity and relaxation. The only thing on peoples mind seemed to be the weekend. This was a much needed reprieve after a heavy day spent seeing the more negative sides of the immigration issue in Tijuana, it was reassuring to see that life goes on and that even in the shadow of the border wall, there will always be pockets of happiness. 


After an early start on Sunday morning, the cohort crossed the border once again on foot. The last item on the agenda was to visit Friendship Park, a meeting zone for families on the U.S. side of the border wall. Pedro Rios, a representative from the American Friends Service Committee, headed our walk to the border wall from a remote trail a few miles inland from the border. The borderland leading up to the wall on the U.S. side is a giant marshland girded by the ocean. Short brush lines the pathway up to the wall. Discarded clothes and backpacks from potentially successful border crossers line the road. Border Patrol trucks drag tires behind to smooth dirt in order to make footprints more visible. One border guard is present at the park and gives us a short synopsis of the park rules. Passing things through the gate is prohibited. Pictures are prohibited. There is a maximum of 10 people in the park at once. These rules seems flexible when the park is slow, which is was that day.

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The next hour was spent conversing with people on the opposite side of the border. Through the fine mesh fence once can barley make out the contours of the others face. Voices are muffled and the the mood is somber. The prescreen of prowess is apparent as one strains to see a weak spot in the border defense. It carries the same weight as prison bars and those on the Tijuana side are teased by the open spaces and glossy apartment buildings that glimmer in the distance.

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As the cohort makes it way down the hill and into the cars destined for the airport, each person confronts the harsh realities of the weekend. While many within the group are left with more questions than answers, it is impossible to deny the profound light that had been sparked. Through meeting those in the movement and by seeing the effects of U.S. border policy first hand each member of the group was able to build on their work and see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.


For me, when starting this program I was unsure of what the end goal might actually be. Write a thesis, do some good work and make some connections. All missions were vague and all outcomes uncertain. In the wake of this journey things began to click into focus and it became very apparent just how much was riding on the collective work of all of us. The future of immigration in the U.S. and around the world is to be dictated by our generation and it will require more cooperation and understanding. Experiences like those from October are just the start.



MIMS in Rome

KarinaOriginally from the Los Angeles Area, Karina Castro is a MIMS 2018 graduate who currently works as a Program Assistant at KIND Inc., Kids in Need of Defense. Karina’s research focused on a thesis on the response of direct service providers to Haitian Refugees at the Tijuana border. She was able to go to Rome with other MIMS students with USF’s Master in Non-Profit Administration program.

I had never been to Rome before nor did I ever imagine I would have the opportunity to experience a city I had only read about in history books when learning about the Roman Empire. It is a rich city with history in its buildings and piazzas and in the little details as you walk through the narrow cobblestone streets. After a 13 hour direct flight from Los Angeles to Rome, Italy I arrived at the Roma Termini Train Station. It is the main hub to reach many cities throughout Rome. It is very busy and people pass you by in a flash as everyone carries on to find their way.


During this journey I had the opportunity to learn about the work  different organizations are doing to help all refugees including those crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Various organizations we met with include: Jesuit Refugee Services, Caritas Roma, Save the Children, Centro Astalli, Medecins San Frontieres. Through different services, all these organizations address the needs of refugees, whether it is in the form of rescue missions, education, health or access to a daily meal and shelter. Something interesting I learned from this experience is how most of the organizations are seen in a negative light because society does not want to accept refugees or migrants into Italy. It was also important to note how Pope Francis reaffirms the work of these organizations and gives them the strength to continue to do the work they are doing since he is very influential and speaks in a positive light of helping migrants and refugees. Part of being able to sit at the general hearing given by Pope Francis is to acknowledge the role of the Catholic Church in having this mission of helping others with a humanitarian vision.


The most inspiring moment was hearing a testimony of an amazing woman from Cameroon. She talked about her experience with domestic violence in her home country, fleeing to Nigeria before taking a plane to Italy. My takeaway from her testimony was that she is the richest person in the world not because she has materialistic wealth but because she is happy. She has started her own non-profit to help girls in Cameroon. She is very grateful to Centro Astalli because the organization not only provided her with shelter and food, but also gave her the opportunity to take Italian classes and is allowing for her to continue developing her hospitality management skills. It is also important to note every migrant or refugee story is different and the power lies in understanding the story of the other without judgement.

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This program relates to my thesis project in the aspect of integration of refugees. Sometimes as a migration scholar it is easy to focus on the journey of the migrant or refugee and forget to stop and analyze what happens post arrival and the struggle of integrating into a new society with a foreign language, different customs and traditions. Integration is a challenge and as daughter of Central American immigrants in the United States, I can say I am not sure my parents fully integrated into the American society or what a successful integration or complete integration really entails. I know the goal is to be able to simply live a life with dignity which was not provided in the country of origin.


086e4632-dfc7-4215-bba2-086bceec883fOverall, going to Rome provided me with the opportunity to understand more in depth the migration refugee crisis in Italy and it made it more intimate to be in the country and be able to make observations than to read a figure in a textbook. Unfortunately, during the first two weeks in January over 250 people died trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea. I am sure the figures have risen by now, but being there and hearing the statistic made it more personal knowing how close I was to the location and without the possibility of doing anything to help. Sometimes part of the experience as a migration scholar that  I have come to peace with is I cannot carry out into actions everything I wish I could do to change a situation but that I can accompany someone in a moment of their journey by listening and being actively present and engaged. I find the goodness in each instance as a fuel to continue to concentrate in my studies and hope one day policies can be changed and everyone is provided with the same dignity to life which we all deserve.


Immigrant Rights are Human Rights

Student standing next to University of IBERO Puebla sign
Among 190 Jesuit universities worldwide, Universidad Iberoamericana Puebla is one of seven in Mexico.

Flavio Bravo ’19 writes about his time in Mexico as a Migration & Human Rights Intern during Summer 2018. 

After initially studying abroad with seven other members of my cohort at la Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, I was able to continue my time in Mexico through USF’s Arrupe Fellowship Fund, which gave me the financial support to develop my research as a Migration & Human Rights Intern at the Instituto de Derechos Humanos Ignacio Ellacuría, S.J. (IDHIE) in Cholula, Puebla.


Upon my arrival to Puebla in early June, I quickly learned about the significance of the state’s geographic location in Eastern Central Mexico. Bordering the states of Veracruz and Oaxaca, one of the main responsibilities of the IDHIE team is to analyze human rights abuses against migrants who cross Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala and Belize. Born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, I know firsthand that conversations on immigration in the U.S. are primarily focused on relations along the U.S-Mexico border. But what people often forget to consider is the United States’ historical methods of intervention, depleting and destroying communities worldwide and ultimately creating push factors for migrants to come to the U.S. after fleeing violence and turmoil in their home countries.


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Source: Vox Media


As a part of the migration team within the IDHIE, I assisted by analyzing and recording data from a series of interviews of majority Central American migrants who were detained in Mexican migration centers in Puebla and Tlaxcala. Mexican detention of unauthorized migrants is not a new practice. But it has dramatically increased over the last few years.


In 2014, for the first time, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection witnessed more unaccompanied children from Central America arrive to the U.S. border than those from Mexico. Unsure of how to respond to what President Obama publicly referred to as an “urgent humanitarian situation,” a historic meeting was held between Obama and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. Less than two weeks later, Mexico’s “Programa Frontera Sur” or the Southern Border Plan was announced. It was presented with three central commitments, one of which was to protect the rights of migrants and refugees who enter Mexico. What has mostly occurred is the greater militarization of Mexico’s southern border. Further, it has largely been U.S. taxpayers that have provided Mexico with this funding, to the tune of $2.6 billion between 2008-2016.


The IDHIE was named after Ignacio Ellacuria, S.J., the former president of the University of Central America and one of the Jesuit martyrs of El Salvador.

Mexican officials began implementing raids and arresting undocumented Central American migrants en route to the U.S. As a part of the IDHIE team, we requested every legal resolution from Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Migración from 2017 that dealt with a migrant who was detained and ultimately released from migration centers in Puebla and Tlaxcala. The goal of obtaining these resolutions was to better understand the treatment of migrants detained in these centers by comparing the resolutions with the personal migrant interviews previously conducted. No one can imagine how taken aback we became when three large boxes of files finally arrived. Despite containing what appeared to be over 1,270 resolutions shipped to our office, we soon realized that just around 800 were distinct and unique documents. The remaining 470 were complete duplicates. Whether it was manipulative in order to simulate transparency or just outright negligence, we saw first-hand how the Mexican government simply did not prioritize the rights of migrants.


Further, almost every personal testimony was blacked out on the legal resolutions, when only the names of migrants are supposed to be withheld. Regardless of how one considers the legality to migrate, a migrant is sure to know the physical and legal risks inherent to the U.S. government actively working against their basic human right to survive. Yet, these redacted testimonies and unorganized efforts demonstrate that the Mexican government is also shirking its duty to protect those refugees they initially acknowledged when they implemented Programa Frontera Sur with the financial backing of the United States.


But what did remain legible from every resolution was the national origin of each detained migrant. By far, the majority of those detained and deported were from the Central American Northern Triangle: Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Some were even Mexican citizens who were wrongly deported after being unable to provide requested documentation.


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Students from my alma mater, Brophy College Preparatory, in Phoenix, AZ, visited the IDHIE during an immersion trip to Puebla.


Beyond my participation assisting with the migration research team, perhaps my day-to-day conversations with others in the IDHIE were the most impactful. As a U.S. citizen living abroad during the Trump administration, countless faculty and staff members at the university and within the greater Cholula community regularly asked me what was occurring in the U.S. as far as family separation at the border and how it could be justified. While it is common knowledge that the current U.S. administration has little regard for upholding the rights of refugees and asylum seekers, what I witnessed this summer was the Mexican government also completely ignore its responsibilities.


Members of the IDHIE team surprised me with pastel de natas on my birthday earlier this summer.

With my internship experience now at an end, I’ve returned to San Francisco for my second and final year in the graduate program. My internship with the IDHIE might be over, but its namesake and mission remain on my mind. Named after the former president of the University of Central America in San Salvador, Ignacio Ellacuría, S.J. was one of the Jesuit martyrs of El Salvador who was killed for speaking out in defense of the oppressed and for being a strong proponent of liberation theology. In his 1982 commencement address at Santa Clara University, Ellacuría urged graduates to “do everything possible so that liberty is victorious over oppression, justice over injustice, love over hate.”


In honor of this lifelong commitment, the IDHIE lives out Ellacuria’s legacy by working to defend the rights of the most vulnerable across Mexico, with a specific focus on the states of Puebla and Tlaxcala. Among other areas, the IDHIE advocates and focuses on migration, the treatment and trafficking of persons, women’s rights, children’s rights, and the rights of indigenous communities.


I remain convinced that our entire world, but especially the U.S. and Mexico, would be much better off if we listened and responded justly to the unnecessary pain and suffering of people that leaders like Ellacuría spent a lifetime defending.

At the top of the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios, a 16th-century Mexican Catholic church built atop the Tlachihualtepetl pyramid which divides San Pedro and San Andrés, Cholula.