• November 30, 2021
 15th annual J. Paul Taylor Social Justice Symposium to focus on Migrants

Ruben Garcia, executive director of Annunciation House, will be honored with the Social Justice Community Award at the J. Paul Taylor Social Justice Symposium, which takes place April 11-12

15th annual J. Paul Taylor Social Justice Symposium to focus on Migrants

‘Justice for Migrants’ is the theme of the 2019 J. Paul Taylor Social Justice Symposium April 11-12 at New Mexico State University.

The symposium will feature panels of experts tackling the subjects dominating national news about the treatment of migrants on our southern border. The event is free and open to the public.

“The goal of this symposium is to reflect on the philosophical values, public narratives and community organizing that go in to the defense and promotion of human rights of immigrants, residents of border communities, DREAMers, asylum seekers and all migrants in Mexico and the US,” said Neil Harvey, NMSU professor and department head of government. “The symposium brings together university researchers, community-based advocates, reporters and students to share their own philosophical perspectives and experiences regarding the promotion of justice for migrants.”

Named for a respected state representative and educator, the J. Paul Taylor Symposium started in 2005 when Taylor suggested strategies for bringing resources of the university to address problems faced by underserved populations in the southwest.

This year’s symposium will be hosted by NMSU’s College of Arts and Sciences, the Office of the Vice President for Research, Department of Philosophy and Department of Government with generous support from the Guadalupe Institute.

The ‘Justice for Migrants’ event begins with a panel discussion from 3:30-5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 11 at Gardiner Hall, Room 230. Panelists include NMSU professors Harvey and Lori Keleher, philosophy professor as well as David Holtby from the Guadalupe Institute in Albuquerque, Camilo Perez Bustillo from the Hope Border Institute in El Paso, Blanca Adriana Ontiveros from the New Mexico Dream Team and Nancy Oretskin from the Southwest Asylum and Migration Institute.

The annual Social Justice Awards reception and keynote address will follow from 6-8 p.m. with remarks from NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu, College of Arts and Sciences Dean Enrico Pontelli, Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School Luis Cifuentes, Honorable J. Paul Taylor and President of the Guadalupe Institute Michael Keleher.

Harvey will present the Department of Government Social Justice Award to Adrian Aguirre, a local artist and NMSU alumnus, who created a series of portraits of migrant workers he spent a year with called ‘Jornaleros’ meant to help people relate to the migrant experience.

Aguirre, who is a program manager in NMSU’s Innovative Media Research and Extension department, more recently spent time at the border with asylum-seekers creating portraits that address their struggles.

He is in the process of creating a program to teach art making practices to those awaiting asylum at the ports of entry to help them document their experiences and as a way to heal.

For more about his artwork, visit this website.

Audrey Hardman Hartley will present the J. Paul Taylor Social Justice Community Award to Ruben Garcia, executive director of

Ruben Garcia, executive director of Annunciation House, will be honored with the Social Justice Community Award at the J. Paul Taylor Social Justice Symposium, which takes place April 11-12

Annunciation House. Garcia and his dedicated staff and volunteers have worked to serve the people of El Paso and Juarez to find shelter, food and refuge including the increasing number of refugees which have more recently filled Annunciation House’s shelters.

“His commitment to serving refugees, asylum seekers and the most helpless of the poor over the past 40 years is unmatched. Serving the poor comes with a lengthy set of challenges, but Ruben’s commitment has never wavered,” wrote community activist Rose Lucero about Garcia’s in her nomination letter.

“Whether its eight in a given day that may show up at the door step of Annunciation House or 800 that are transported by bus from ICE or Border Patrol, Ruben wants to make sure that each man, woman and child be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. In a situation that seems nearly impossible Ruben Garcia always finds a way to make sure that the most voiceless have a voice and that every person knows that they matter and that they are loved.”

Rocio Melendez Dominguez, attorney for Derechos Humanos Integrales en Accion (Seeking Justice for Deported Migrants and Asylum Seekers) in Ciudad Juarez, will be the keynote speaker.

Day two of the symposium begins from 9-11 a.m. Friday, April 12 in Gardner Hall, Room 230 with a panel discussion about community perspectives from the border.

The panel will include Jeremy Slack, University of Texas at El Paso sociology and anthropology professor, Debbie Nathan, a nationally-known journalist, Fernando Garcia, founder and executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights, Johana Bencomo, director of community organizing for New Mexico Communidades en Accion y de Fe also known as NM CAFe, Jorge Rodriguez, Regional Center for Border Rights, American Civil Liberties Union – New Mexico and Deacon Leonel Briseño, Project Oak Tree, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces.

A student poster presentation will be on display at Gardner immediately following the panel from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. followed by a summary and closing discussion at the Nason House, Center for Latin American and Border Studies at 1070 University Ave. A summary of main points and roundtable discussion on next steps will wrap up the symposium with food and refreshments provided.

Author: Minerva Baumann – NMSU

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