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Conferences: 2012

Borderline Slavery: Contemporary Issues in Border Security and the Human Trade

Video Recap | Keynote Podcast | Background | Program | Agenda


Date:  Thursday, October 18, 2012

Location:  University of New Mexico Student Union Building
(Panel Sessions: Ballroom A; Luncheon Keynote: Lobo A & B)

Sponsors:  Latin American & Iberian Institute

Description:  This symposium consists of three panel presentations composed of experts whose work relates to human trafficking and immigration along the U.S.-Mexico borderlands and beyond. The LAII has organized the conference so as to promote scholarship, public awareness, and effective public policy to combat human trafficking in Mexico, the United States, and our shared border region.

Video Recap

See below for a video recap produced by UNM Communications & Marketing.


Keynote Luncheon Podcast

To hear the audio recording of the keynote speech with Professor Timothy Dunn, please visit the podcast page for Border Militarization, Immigration, and Human Rights.


Across the world, more people are living in slavery today than at any time in human history--even in the United States, which prides itself on being a free society. Each year, thousands of people are trafficked within and across our borders to serve as sex slaves or un-free labor in U.S. homes, fields, and factories. Many enter via our southern border with Mexico, after having been trafficked within or across Mexico from other parts of the Americas and beyond. Despite evidence that this trend is accelerating, it often goes undetected because human trafficking is so antithetical to our cultural values and collective image of what we stand for as U.S. Americans that we have a hard time seeing it for what it is. Instead it tends to masquerade as other, more common practices that are themselves such hot button issues that they monopolize public perceptions and policy dialogue--undocumented migration, prostitution, and labor exploitation. Enslaved migrant laborers are often seen simply as undocumented workers who are in the country illegally, while sex trafficking victims are merely prostitutes plying an illegal trade. Such misrepresentation makes it difficult to detect victims, to deter the practice by imposing stiff penalties on apprehended traffickers, and to allocate the necessary resources to combat the conditions that encourage the human trade.

But understand it we must, because human trafficking is flourishing in the globalization era. By increasing expectations for material success worldwide without offering everyone the necessary resources to reach their dreams, globalization is stimulating migration. At the same time, for economic and political reasons many countries are trying to seal their borders through restrictive immigration policy. Meanwhile, the demand for sex workers and cheap labor in private households and commercial enterprises is continuing unabated; the profits to be made by supplying this demand are sky-rocketing; and the ability of national and local governments to regulate these labor markets and combat illegal strategies for supplying them, is limited by misinformation and resource scarcity. The U.S.-Mexico borderlands play a critical role in this process because they highlight and reinforce the demographic, economic, cultural, and political dynamics that shape human trafficking and modern-day slavery in the Americas.

The goal of the UNM Latin American and Iberian Institute's outreach efforts, through the 2009 conference we organized with the United Nations ("Modern-Day Slavery in the Americas"); the recently published book, Borderline Slavery: Mexico, the United States, and the Human Trade (Ashgate Press, 2012), which grew out of that conference; and the October 17-18, 2012, conference, "Borderline Slavery: Contemporary Issues in Border Security and the Human Trade," which we have organized on the eve of book's publication, is to promote scholarship, public awareness, and effective public policy to combat human trafficking in Mexico, the United States, and our shared border region.


The event program is available for download: Borderline Slavery Symposium Program.


Note: Unless otherwise indicated, all sessions will be held in UNM Student Union Building, Ballroom A.

8:30-9:00 a.m.: Introductions and Welcoming Remarks

  • Mark Peceny, Dean of Arts & Sciences, University of New Mexico
  • Susan Tiano, Director, Latin American & Iberian Institute, University of New Mexico
  • Iñigo García-Bryce, Director, Center for Latin American and Border Studies, New Mexico State University
  • Sandra Garabano, Interim Director, Center for Inter-American and Border Studies, University of Texas at El Paso

9:00-10:30 a.m.: Panel I: Border Security and Human Rights

  • Moderator: Felipe Gonzales, Department of Sociology, University of New Mexico
  • Vickie Gaubeca, American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico/Regional Center for Border Rights
  • Neil Harvey, Department of Government, New Mexico State University
  • Gilberto Rosas, Department of Anthroplogy, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

10:30-10:45 a.m.: Break

10:45-12:15 p.m.: Panel II: Immigration and Human Trafficking

  • Moderator: Patricia Covarrubias, Department of Communication and Journalism, University of New Mexico
  • Tony Payan, Department of Political Science, University of Texas at El Paso
  • Richard Schaefer, Department of Communication and Journalism, University of New Mexico and
      Carolyn Gonzales, University Communication and Marketing, University of New Mexico
  • Josiah Heyman, Department of Anthropology, University of Texas at El Paso

12:15-12:30 p.m.: Break

12:30-1:30 p.m.: Luncheon and Keynote Speech: Border Militarization, Immigration, and Human Rights

  • Timothy Dunn, Department of Sociology, Salisbury University, Maryland

1:30-1:45 p.m.: Break

1:45-3:15 p.m.: Panel III: Human Trafficking and the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands

  • Moderator: Christine Sierra, Director, Southwest Hispanic Research Institute, University of New Mexico
  • Brenner Allen, Associate, of Counsel with the law firm of Allen, Pinnix & Nichols
  • Stephanie Hepburn, Independent Scholar
  • Lise Olsen, Journalist, Houston Chronicle
  • Jeremy Slack, Department of Geography, University of Arizona

3:15-3:30 p.m.: Break

3:30-5:00 p.m.: Concluding Remarks

  • Cornell H. Menking, Associate Provost for International and Border Programs, New Mexico State University


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