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Center for Human Rights and International Justice

Human Rights of Migrants: Transnational and Mixed-Status Families

Participatory Action Research and Community-based Education as Resources for Documentation, Activism and Policy Change, led by Professor M. Brinton Lykes and Attorney Jessica Chicco

The Center for Human Rights and International Justice has partnered with community-based organizations in the Boston area to collaborate on an interdisciplinary and transnational project. The project brings together Central American immigrant members of the organizations, staff organizers from the group, lawyers, psychologists, and social workers to document how the recent upsurge of immigration enforcement is affecting immigrants and their families and communities. The aim of the participatory action research (PAR) project is to develop human rights research and advocacy skills among immigrant community members within the United States while at the same time generating action oriented data and information. The project has included dozens of collaborative community-university meetings. Boston College faculty and students associated with the project have produced scholarly work in the fields of law, psychology, action research methodologies, and social work. You can read more about the project’s activities and achievements in the annual reports

Recognizing the growing number of mixed status families facing emotional and economic hardship in the United States, the Center is privileged to be home to the Post Deportation Human Rights Project, which provides representation to individuals who have been deported and aims to promote the rights of deportees and their family members

Currently, we're involved in the following projects:

  • Participatory Action Research on English for Speakers of Other Languages

This Participatory Action Research (PAR) was designed to: 1) Understand the experiences of Latino/a migrants in accessing ESOL courses in order to adapt current services to better meet the needs and demands of their communities; 2) Understand the implications of within-family-language-barriers for familial members’ wellbeing and integration into the community; and, 3) Use research findings to develop community actions to inform policy and programming around service delivery and resource generation for migrant communities. The PAR process is collaborative and community-based. It was conceived after two years of collaboration between two community-based organizations servicing migrants and refugees - Casa El Salvador (CES) and Women Encouraging Empowerment, Inc. (WEE) - and the Migration and Human Rights Project (MHRP) at Boston College. The research questions were initiated by the community organizations and every subsequent step of the research project was done collaboratively by all partners. 

Sixty semi-structured individual interviews – two per family including a parent and a child or adolescent – will be conducted to elicit migrant parents’ and children’s experiences speaking and/or learning English and the parental language of origin. Findings will be presented to the larger communities through creative techniques. Co-researchers will engage them in the identification and development of future actions.

  • English for Speakers of Other Languages - Know Your Rights Tool Kit (description coming soon!)

 

Past projects have included:

  • Women Educating Women Towards Empowerment and Leadership

A team of students led by Professor M. Brinton Lykes and Attorney Jessica Chicco and the organization Women Encouraging Empowerment (WEE, Inc.) joined together to launch the Women Educating Women Towards Empowerment and Leadership project.  WEE was founded in 2010 by a group of immigrant women and allies to educate, advocate, protect and advance the rights of immigrants, refugees and low-income women and their families through organizing, leadership development and service delivery.  By bringing together psychologists, social workers, attorneys, and staff organizers, the joint project members identified areas in which WEE staff and constituents would benefit from additional knowledge and opportunity for discussion. The project then organized three participatory "Know Your Rights" workshops on topics of domestic violence and immigration, and further workshops and other collaborations are planned based on the interests and needs of WEE members.

  • Participatory Action Research - Effects of Detention and Deportation

This PAR project was and to produce detailed documentation about the effects of detention and deportation on transnational mixed-status families that can form the basis of a more comprehensive understanding of these families, improve services available to them and their children, and develop human rights documentation for sustained and effective advocacy campaigns.

  • Know Your Rights Workshops

The “Human Rights of Migrants:  Transnational and Mixed-Status Families” collaborative project has organized “Know Your Rights” workshops to address the rights of immigrants in their communities.  The organizations work with their members to educate the community through short and interactive theatrical productions and small group discussions.  These workshops have taken up a number of issues faced by the immigrant community, including the rights of immigrants when the police or immigration enforcement officers come to their homes, and when they are stopped while driving.  Centro Presente, English for Action, Organización Maya K’iche’, and Casa El Salvador have participated in organizing and hosting these workshops.

 

Our Current Partners

CASA EL SALVADOR is from, to, and for the Salvadorian Community. Casa El Salvador is a space for the Salvadorian community to celebrate its culture, roots, and history and to proudly affirm its Salvadorian identity.    It is also a space where the community can organize to respond to the needs and challenges of its members and to advance their dreams.   It maintains close links with the General Consulate from El Salvador in Boston but it is an organization that is self-organized and self-managed by a group of Salvadorans.  For more information, please e-mail casaelsalvador1@gmail.com.

English for Action (EFA) works with Latino immigrant families in Providence, Rhode Island, developing participatory English language and childcare programs that link language learning, leadership development, and community-building.  EFA sustains programs for adults’ literacy, pre GED, Adult Basic Education for English speakers, conversation partner and “voz mujer” (for women’s leadership development).  EFA strives to develop a center for community building and leadership development, where learners take on leadership roles within the organization and in the community to build a future model for community-based education and collective change.  It envisions a participatory democracy in which people work collectively to promote social and economic justice, and in which immigrants are active and equal participants in society and politics.

Women Encouraging Empowerment Inc ("WEE") is a responsive and member lead organization that seeks to support its members to understand US society, to take the needed steps to become fully engaged and advocates in their communities. WEE's program focus is two areas: the cultivation of immigrant women leadership and the creation of a sustainable economy. Organizing is the core value and practice in each of these areas. WEE seeks the participation of committed women and their allies as lead organizers for change in the community with a volunteer base of committed women including the board of directors, founders, staff and program participants.

 

Our Past Partners

Established in 1981, Centro Presente is a member-driven, state-wide Latin American immigrant organization dedicated to the self-determination and self-sufficiency of the Latin American immigrant community of Massachusetts. Operated and led primarily by Central American immigrants, Centro Presente struggles for immigrant rights and for economic and social justice. Through the integration of community organizing, leadership development and basic services, Centro Presente strives to give our members voice and build community power.

We established the Maya K’iche Organization here in Massachusetts as a non-profit organization in order to orient and support the Maya and non-Mayan Central American community through correct and efficient performance of the collaborating corporations. Among other things, the Maya K’iche organization provides information and teaching on and about the reality of the culture we have inherited from our ancestors. Our organization arose also as an instrument of support for the work that was already accomplished by different Mayan groups and organizations situated in the United States. We are part of the diversity of instruments the Mayan community has created and we are obligated to find unity amongst our Mayan brothers and sisters who have lost their identity as part of the migration process.