Inaugural Binational Lecture Focuses on Migrants’ Needs

ACADEMIC AFFAIRS | The inaugural U.S.-Mexico Binational Lecture, a product of a partnership 1½ years in the making, focused attention on needs of migrants in relation to United Nations’ Agenda for Sustainable Development for a near-capacity audience of Loyola Marymount University students, faculty and staff. The Feb. 12, 2020, lecture and discussion in Ahmanson Auditorium emphasized the health and education necessities of young migrants, who are often afforded the least resources and most difficult conditions.

“Migrants are not a problem,” said Valeria Valle, professor of international studies at Iberoamericana University in Mexico City. “They present a circumstance or situation,” she said, describing her own upbringing as a “privileged migrant.” The lecture, “Immigration and the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals: A Case Study from Migrants in Mexico and the U.S.,” developed the theme of migration-related health issues, including inclusion in universal health plans, and the imperative to treat migrants in their full humanity.

In keeping with the health care theme, the present consul general, Ambassador Marcela Celorio, said that the Mexican Consulate offers Ventanillas de Salud, offering health care attention and resources for migrants from Mexico and all Latin America countries.

The impetus for the partnership between LMU, the Jesuit-run Iberoamericana University in Mexico City, and the Consulate General of Mexico in Los Angeles began at a June 2018 meeting that included President Timothy Law Snyder, Ph.D., Executive Vice President and Provost Thomas Poon, Vice Provost Roberta Espinoza and Carlos García de Alba, then consul general of Mexico, and Cynthia Prida, the Mexican consul for academic affairs.

In March 2019, LMU signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Iberoamericana University and the Consulate General of Mexico in Los Angeles. Since then, Espinoza has developed an internship program at the Mexican Consulate for LMU undergraduate students, which four students have participated in, and planned the inaugural U.S.-Mexico Binational Lecture.

In introducing the lecture, Poon underscored that the partnership will address topics of great concern to both countries, and Espinoza said this will be a showcase for the profound way collaboration transcends borders to address issues and understand vast social inequalities that are reproduced daily.

Professor William Perez of the LMU School of Education expanded on the education needs of migrant children, explaining that the Sustainable Development Goals, the 17-point agenda set by United Nations General Assembly, includes an entry on universal access to education. “We need bigger, larger responses on both sides of the border,” he said.