On the Domestic Human Rights Front

The human rights abuses occurring along the U.S. border with Mexico will be front and center for a group of Southern Methodist University students who, starting Jan. 2, will spend two weeks confronting a multitude of migrant issues in Arizona.

As part of the Embrey Human Rights Program, in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, eight students will visit the border and desert areas of Tucson and Yuma to study firsthand the deteriorating conditions spawned by economic and political unrest.

“This is a new trip for us,” said director Rick Halperin. “These issues will be with us for years to come, and as such, our program intends to bring our students to the border to better learn about what is happening there. It also will allow them to get involved in the struggle to end human rights violations.”

Led by associate director Patricia H. Davis, students will spend time with the minister-founder of Humane Borders, regional detectives and medical examiners, U.S. Border Patrol agents, and representatives from the Department of Homeland Security.

After the project, students will write research papers “to individualize their experiences” while earning course credit, Halperin said. “This trip is very different than others we have organized, in that it confronts domestic human rights issues,” he added. “Our other trips abroad confront global issues.”

Three times a year, Embrey Human Rights Program participants—including SMU students, faculty and staff, as well as interested members of the community—visit historic areas where human rights violations have occurred, such as Holocaust sites, or places where they continue to unfold, such as Rwanda, Cambodia and Argentina.

The program’s next trip, March 12-20, will include visits to numerous Holocaust sites throughout Germany.

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