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Center for Human Rights and International Justice

Human Rights of Migrants: Transnational and Mixed-Status Families

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 PAR project is twofold:  to develop human rights research and advocacy skills among immigrant community members within the United States; 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.  Past partners of the project were Centro Presente, English for Action, and Organización Maya K’iche’.  In 2011-2012, the Center partnered with the newly founded Casa El Salvador, located in East Boston.  The project has included dozens of collaborative community-university meetings over the past four years and resulted in two major documentation and research projects as well as a series of Know Your Rights workshops.   You can read more about the project’s activities and achievements in the annual reports.   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. See here for these publications.

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 Partners

  • Casa El Salvador (2011-2012)

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


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.


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.