As part of their Diversity Celebration for Hispanic Heritage Month, California State University, Monterey Bay’s (CSUMB) College of Health Sciences and Human Services hosted “The U.S. Border Crisis and Health of Borders Communities” event on Oct. 2 at the University Center.
Hispanic Heritage month is from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 to commemorate those who contributed to advancements in American culture, science, literature and history.
Dr. Brit Rios Ellis, the Dean of the College of Health Sciences and Human Services at CSUMB, was the introductory speaker. “Like many of you, I have been thinking about this issue for a long time,” said Ellis, in regards to the borders of the country.
The next speaker was Dr. Karen Smith Rotabi, a professor of social work at CSUMB. Rotabi co-edited the book “Intercountry Adoption: Polices, Practices and Outcomes,” which concerns international migration of children, policies, regulations and how social workers find migrant children suitable homes.
Rotabi’s segment covered the various factors that resulted in forced parent child-separation at the U.S.-Mexico border. The intricacies and consequences of migration from Central and South American were also highlighted. Rotabi urged people to stop using the word “detention” and instead use the word “internment” to change the way the centers where families are held are spoken of.
Dr. Kelly Medina-Lopez is an assistant professor in the School of Humanities and Communications. Medina-Lopez had won the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center’s (UROC) Mentor of the Year Award earlier this May. Medina-Lopez and her student researchers presented a project that focuses on the aftermath of the Aug. 3 shooting in El Paso, Texas.
Relating to Rotabi’s reflection on language, Medina-Lopez recalled, “One of the things that we talked about almost immediately when we were cruising in our Suburban around El Paso, was – ‘you know what? We need to call this what it is, because saying it’s a shooting does not highlight what this event was. Every time we talk about this event, we need to call it a racially motivated domestic terror attack.’”
Dr. Enrique Monores was one of the keynote speakers at the event. Monores was the founder of the nonprofit organization Border Angels and co-author of the book, “Power of One: The Story of the Border Angeles.” The goal of Border Angels is to lower the death rate of migrants when crossing the border along California.
Since Operation Gatekeeper began in 1994, Border Angels has been placing water along the paths migrants take. Operation Gatekeeper was used as one of Monores’ main points to explain the struggles the organization faces because of the open hate toward them. He also used their struggles to reflect why the border needs to be improved.
“People are dying everyday crossing the border,” said Monores. “One of the things that has changed dramatically is how we, the Border Angels, have had four of our people stopped at the port of entry in San Ysidro.”
“These were U.S. citizens, these were 53 people that were stopped just because they were crossing the border back to San Diego. They were attorneys, activists, normal people. It’s the harassment,” Monores continued. “When we put water in the desert for example, we have been shot at by vigilante groups, now it’s the border patrol.”
Third year student Kimberly Soto also attended the event. “It was really empowering to see a community of people come together and discuss topics that impact minorities, specifically Latinx communities,” reflected Soto.