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November 7, 2019, 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm


Public Health Crisis at the Border: The Mexican Perspective

The Trump Administration’s new ‘remain in Mexico’ policy is causing an influx of migrants waiting on the Mexican side of the border. By the time they reach the border, many migrants are traumatized, have untreated chronic diseases and are in need of medical treatment. In response to this dynamic situation, The Harvard Global Health Institute, The Woodrow Wilson Center, Boston College School of Social Work, The David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, and Harvard University Mexican Association of Students, will convene key policymakers, experts and frontline workers to discuss the current conditions on the border, extrapolate applicable lessons learned from other crises, and identify approaches to ensuring basic health coverage for this vulnerable population. This event is the second in a series, following ‘The Public Health Crisis on the U.S Border: A Call for Action’ hosted by the Harvard Global Health Institute.



Welcome Remarks 

Keynote Speaker

Dr. J. Eduardo González-Fagoaga, PhD, MS, Assistant Professor, Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, Phoenix, The University of Arizona

Dr. J. Eduardo Gonzalez-Fagoaga is an Assistant Professor at the Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health at The University of Arizona. He has worked for over 15 years on Demography and Public Health research in the US-Mexico border area. Dr. González-Fagoaga has extensive experience in sampling design, implementation, and statistical analysis for the Mexican Surveys of Migration along the northern and southern borders. His background in migration and binational health-related research projects has involved surveying Mexicans in the U.S. who have been recruited through non-migrant relatives in Mexico. Dr. González-Fagoaga is part of a binational research team, whose aim is to develop several surveys focused on HIV risk and access to health services among Mexican migrants traveling through the North border of Mexico, including migrants returning to Mexico via deportation.

Panel 1: Understanding the Needs on the Ground: Voices from the Frontline of the Northern Mexican Border

Speakers include: 

Adolfo Flores, National Security Correspondent for Immigration, Buzzfeed News

Adolfo Flores is the National Security Correspondent for Immigration for Buzzfeed News. He covers stories related to immigration detention, asylum, and deportation – amongst other issues. Flores has traveled throughout Mexico with two caravans of immigrants and has spent months on the Mexican side of the border with immigrants and asylum-seekers. He has witnessed the conditions of people sent back to Mexico as a result of Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), in Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez, and Matamoros. In recent months, Flores has spent time in Matamoros writing and speaking to health professionals about MPP returnees living in an encampment who use the Rio Grande to bathe and wash their clothes. Adolfo is a former reporter for the Los Angeles Times where he covered breaking Los Angeles and California news. He has also reported for the Pasadena Sun and Pasadena Star-News. A Los Angeles native, Flores graduated from Cal State Northridge.

Julie Qashu, Emergency Medicine Nurse, Volunteer

Julie Qashu works as an emergency room nurse at a critical access level IV trauma center in Tucson, Arizona. She is a longtime volunteer for organizations serving migrants along the US Mexican border, including the Kino Border Initiative and Samaritans No More Deaths. Julie has recently worked to establish and support medical facilities and trainings for refugee communities in both Syria and Bangladesh. She has worked with the American Red Cross to coordinate services for families and victims of the September 11th attacks and with Medical Solutions to support critical access hospitals in rural settings in Washington, Arizona, and New Mexico. Julie earned her MPH from Hunter College and studied nursing at the Clinical Nurse Leader Program at the University of Maryland in Baltimore.

Alejandro Olayo-Mendez, Assistant Professor, Boston College School of Social Work

Dr. Alejandro Olayo-Méndez is an Assistant Professor at the Boston College School of Social Work. Dr. Alejandro Olayo-Méndez has taken particular interest in the intersection of humanitarian aid and migration, as well as questions regarding human rights, inequality, transit migration, meso-level structures, and the so-called “Migration Industry.” He has collaborated with Jesuit Refugee Service by conducting interviews with internally displaced people (IDP) in Colombia and Tamil Nadu, India. Dr. Alejandro Olayo-Méndez has also practiced clinical work with immigrant and refugee communities in Chicago, IL, and Spokane, WA. Currently, he is preparing a project to research the effects of ‘Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP)’ on Mexican communities, humanitarian interventions, and the lived experiences of asylum seekers at the Mexico-US Border. Dr. Alejandro Olayo-Méndez is also a Jesuit Priest from the West Coast Province in the United States.

Father Javier Calvillo, Director of Casa Del Migrante

Father Francisco Javier Calvillo is a Diocesan Catholic Priest for the Dioceses of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.  He earned degrees in Philosophy and Theology from the Diocesan Seminary of Ciudad Juarez and has been a priest for the past 15 years. After his ordination, he was named Secretary for the Pastoral Commission for Migrants in Ciudad Juarez.  He has been the Director of ‘Casa del Migrante de Ciudad Juarez’ for the past nine years.  In this role, he oversees the operations of the Migrant Shelter that offers humanitarian assistance to migrants, asylum seekers, refugees, and Mexican deportees. The shelter provides services such as food, shelter, communication, and medical assistance. He is a liaison to organizations such as IOM, UNHCR, Instituto Nacional de Migracion, and Mexican authorities. He also supervises the collaboration with Mexican and American volunteer organizations that support and advocate for migrant populations.

Ieva Jusionyte, Assistant Professor of Anthropology & Social Studies, Harvard University

Ieva Jusionyte is assistant professor of anthropology and social studies at Harvard University. Her research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of political-legal and medical anthropology. Based on fieldwork in the tri-border area between Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay from 2008 to 2014, her first book, Savage Frontier: Making News and Security on the Argentine Border, examines how local journalists both participate in and contest global and national security discourses and practices in a region portrayed as the hub of drug and human trafficking, contraband, and money laundering. Her second research project focuses on security infrastructures and emergency services along the border between Sonora and Arizona. Her 2018 book, Threshold: Emergency Responders on the U.S.-Mexico Border, delves into the lives of first responders under heightened security on both sides of the wall. Written from the perspective of Mexican and Mexican-American firefighters and paramedics, the book reveals what happens when politics of wounding and ethics of rescue collide. Currently she is conducting fieldwork for her latest project, Firepower, a multi-sited ethnographic study that follows firearms as they move through legal and political regimes that compete to define their meaning and value–from gun shows and pawn shops in Texas and Arizona to shooting ranges, forensic labs, and public disarmament campaigns around Mexico. Ieva also sits on the Mexico Faculty Committee at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies.


Panel 2: What Works and What Doesn’t: Lessons Learned from Providing Care to Vulnerable Populations

Speakers include: 

Eunice Rendón, Representative, Chicanos por la Causa

Dr. Eunice Rendon serves as the Coordinator of “Migrant Agenda”, a citizen initiative and coalition of organizations in the United States and Mexico for the empowerment and defense of the rights of migrants. She is also an international consultant on migration and security issues and is a representative in Mexico of “Chicanos por la causa.” Dr. Rendon has held several government positions.  In the Ministry of Health, she served as Director General of International Relations as well as the Deputy Minister of Prevention and Citizen Participation of the Ministry of the Interior. She is the former director of the Institute of Mexicans Abroad, a decentralized body of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  Until April 2019, she worked in the Ministry of Security and Protection as the Executive Deputy Minister of the National Public Security System. Dr. Rendon is an expert in migration, violence prevention and economic recovery strategies in vulnerable populations.

Thomas Crea, Associate Professor and Assistant Dean of Global Programs at the School of Social Work, Boston College

Thomas M. Crea, PhD, MSW, is an Associate Professor, Chair of the Global Practice Concentration, and Assistant Dean of Global Programs at the School of Social Work, Boston College. He is a former licensed clinical social worker with previous experience as a mental health therapist for severely emotionally disturbed children, and as a foster care adoption worker and supervisor providing home study assessments and post-placement support to families. Dr. Crea has experience in local, national, and international research projects, related to social interventions for vulnerable children and families. Dr. Crea’s research focuses on the intersections of child welfare, refugee social protection and education, and strengthening humanitarian aid and international development programs. His research spans multiple countries, which in addition to the U.S. have included Guatemala, Honduras, Kenya, Malawi, Palestine, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

Jacqueline Bhabha, Director of Research, FXB Center for Health & Human Rights, Harvard University

Jacqueline Bhabha, JD, MsC is a Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She is also the Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Lecturer in Law at Harvard Law School, and Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. She is the Director of Research at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard’s only university wide Human Rights research center. From 1997 to 2001, Jacqueline founded and directed the Human Rights Program at the University of Chicago. Prior to 1997, she was a practicing human rights lawyer in London and at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. She has published extensively on issues of transnational child migration, refugee protection, children’s rights and citizenship.

Paul Spiegel, Director, Center for Humanitarian Health, John Hopkins University

Dr. Paul Spiegel, a physician by training, is internationally recognized for his research on preventing and responding to complex humanitarian emergencies. Before becoming the Director of the Center for Humanitarian Health, Dr. Spiegel was the Deputy Director of the Division of Programme Management and Support Services for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Prior to joining the UN in 2002, Dr. Spiegel worked as a medical epidemiologist in the International Emergency and Refugee Health Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Spiegel has also worked as a medical coordinator with Médecins Sans Frontières and Médecins du Monde in refugee emergencies, as well as a consultant for numerous organizations.

Kiryn Lanning, Senior Technical Advisor for Emergencies, Violence Prevention & Response, International Rescue Committee

Kiryn Lanning is a Senior Technical Advisor for Emergencies with the International Rescue Committee (IRC). In this role, she is responsible for the IRC’s emergency protection responses worldwide. She manages a team of emergency responders leading on women’s protection and empowerment, child protection and protection rule of law programming in emergencies.  Kiryn has established and led protection programming in more than 15 countries during acute crises. Notably, in the past five years, she has either been directly deployed to or remotely supported every emergency response IRC has launched for mixed migration, including in Europe, Libya, Colombia/Venezuela, and from the northern triangle to the northern Mexico border. She has also led the development of the IRC’s guidance to integrate protection into Ebola response and preparedness efforts in the Great Lakes Region.  Prior to working with IRC, Kiryn worked on emergency responses with multiple organizations based in Liberia, South Sudan, the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan, and along the U.S – Mexico border in response to the large number of unaccompanied children arriving from Central America in 2013.

Closing Remarks 


November 7, 2019
12:00 pm - 5:00 pm