A panel discussion with activists: Karma Chávez, Elvia Rosales Arriola, CJ Alvarez, Virginia Raymond and Sulma Catarina Franco-Chamale, a queer undocumented Guatemala immigrant.
Karma Chávez is a new transplant to Austin, moving here from Madison, Wisconsin to take a job as an associate professor of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies at UT-Austin. She is a member of the radical queer collective Against Equality, an organizer for LGBT Books to Prisoners, and for four years, she hosted the radio program, "A Public Affair" on Madison's community radio station. As a part of the writers’ collective, Madison Mutual Drift, she is co-author of Madison, Wisconsin: A City in Nine Objects published by Chicago’s Temporary Services in 2014, and the author of Queer Migration Politics: Activist Rhetoric and Coalitional Possibilities
CJ Alvarez is an assistant professor in the department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies, and an affiliate of the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies and the Center for Mexican American Studies. He writes about the history of the U.S.-Mexico border, U.S.-Mexico relations, and federal policing. His book manuscript, The Shape of the Border: Policing the U.S.-Mexico Divide, explains how the U.S. and Mexican governments built the border as a space to facilitate the massive circulation of capital and how this process ultimately transformed the borderland into a zone of exceptionally high police presence and activity.
Elvia Arriola is a Texas lawyer and Professor Emeritus from Northern Illinois University. Her areas of research and writing have focused on gender and sexuality, civil rights and the impact of NAFTA on the human rights of working women and migrants. One of her recent writings critically examines the government's reliance on private prison companies to operate immigration detention centers, and uses narratives from undocumented gay migrants at a San Antonio area facility to illustrate the range of human rights concerns. She is married to lawyer Donna Blevins.
Virginia Marie Raymond currently practices immigration law, although she has also worked as a teacher, oral historian, and independent scholar. For the last four years, she has spent most of her time representing, on a pro bono basis, refugees and immigrants detained in Karnes City, Pearsall, Laredo, the Joe Corley detention center in Conroe, the Hutto detention center in Taylor, Houston, and Del Rio. Virginia represents asylum seekers both defensively, in removal (aka deportation) proceedings and affirmatively; her affirmative asylum clients come from Burundi, Cameroon, Kenya, and Honduras. Through the Mexican Consulate’s Programa Asesorías Legales Externas (PALE), she consults with and represents Mexican nationals in a variety of immigration law matters. Virginia co-founded the Political Asylum Project of Austin/Proyecto de Asilo Político de Austin (PAPA) in 1987 or 1988 (depending on when you start counting); PAPA later morphed into American Gateways. Today she continues to volunteer with American Gateways and donates many hours to the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES).