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

The Center 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.

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 promotes the rights of deportees and their family members.

For more on the project's work:

Previous issues of the MHRP annual report

Resources produced by the project:

Census Report from Zacualpa, Quiché, Guatemala (2016):

Documenting the lives of 21st Century Mayan families “on the move” (English)

Zacualpa census report ENGLISH

Documentando la vida de las familias mayas en tránsito en el siglo XXI (Español)

Zacualpa census report ESPAÑOL

Past Projects

  • Documenting Migrants’ Intergenerational Experiences with English Language Learning towards Improving Access, Multilingualism and Community Advocacy Project

This Participatory Action Research (PAR) was designed to: 1) Understand the experiences of Latino/a migrants in accessing English for Speakers of Other Languages 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 and Women Encouraging Empowerment, Inc. - and the Migration and Human Rights Project 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. 

The findings from this PAR project can be found in the "Migrant Families and Language: '...The person who speaks two languages has double the value'” report. This report situates Spanish-speaking migrants in Revere and East Boston within the larger context of immigrant families in the United States, discusses findings from interviews with parents and their adolescent children and concludes with recommendations for community members, community organizations, and policy makers committed to improving the wellbeing of the migrant communities. 

  • English for Speakers of Other Languages - Know Your Rights Tool Kit 

The Boston College Migration and Human Rights Project, alongside our partners Women Encouraging Empowerment and Casa El Salvador, is proud to share the first two units of our "Know Your Rights-English for Speakers of Other LanguagesTool Kit." The materials - including an introductory video and letter, teachers' guides and student lesson handouts can be found here. The materials were developed in conjunction with a legal team so legal information is infused throughout the lessons, and more additional information is included in "FAQ" sheets accompanying the teacher's guide for each lesson.


Past Partners

  • Casa El Salvador 

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. 

  • English for Action

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

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.