Padre Alejandro Solalinde Guerra is a Catholic priest, the coordinator of the Pastoral of Human Mobility for Mexico’s South Pacific Region and founder of Hermanos en el Camino migrant shelter in Ixtepec, Oaxaca. Padre Alejandro began his mission with migrants, when the conditions facing hundreds of thousands of Central American people riding trains northward through Mexico to the United States each year came to his attention. These men, women and children travel undocumented in the most desperate conditions, extraordinarily vulnerable to criminal predation. As he witnessed the intensification of violence directed at migrants in transit from criminal gangs and corrupt authorities, Padre Alejandro became convinced of the necessity to establish refuge in Ixtepec, Oaxaca, in southern Mexico, a critical juncture for routes north through the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. The ‘Hermanos en el Camino’ migrant shelter opened its doors in 2007, joining a system of over fifty shelters and food kitchens that have emerged along the unauthorized migratory route to the United States.
The shelter has become a frontline in the fight against increasingly organized and brutal attacks on undocumented Central American migrants in transit through Mexico. The shelter also engages in activism on behalf of the migrants and human rights. It became the staging ground for numerous protests, and launched Padre Alejandro into the national political fight against abuses of human rights in Mexico. Padre Solalinde has received numerous human rights awards including the Emilio Krieger Medal in 2011, and the “Peace and Democracy Award. Because of his activism, Padre Alejandro has endured many death threats, and he has been spotlighted on the Amnesty International Urgent Action List. Nonetheless, he continues his work without fear, convinced that he has found a mission in service to the migrants.
Julián Aguilar covered the 81st legislative session for the Rio Grande Guardian. Previously, he reported from the border for the Laredo Morning Times. A native of El Paso, he has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Texas and a master’s degree in journalism from the Frank W. Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism at the University of North Texas.
Claire Antonelli is an attorney at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) where she practices immigration law. Claire’s immigration practice focuses on representing people in their VAWA, U and T visa applications, as well as in removal proceedings.
Claire holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California at Berkeley. She received her J.D. from the University of Michigan. Prior to attending law school, Claire worked for an international human rights organization on the promotion of rights-based responses to human trafficking in the Americas. She also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Panama.
Assistant Special Agent in ChargeHomeland Security InvestigationsUS Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
In October 2009, Kevin W. Benson began his current position as the HSI Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Brownsville Texas. He began his federal service January 1990, and federal law enforcement career in September 1992, as a U.S. Customs Service Special Agent assigned to Brownsville, Texas.
As the Assistant Special Agent in Charge his duties include the coordination and oversight of international criminal investigations involving violations of U.S federal laws. Homeland Security Investigations investigative program areas which include narcotics and contraband smuggling, human smuggling and trafficking, strategic import and export violations, financial investigations to include money laundering and bulk cash smuggling, child exploitation and child pornography, commercial fraud to include intellectual property rights violations.
The Office of the Assistant Special Agent in Charge Brownsville, Texas area of responsibility includes Cameron and Willacy County and is one of seven investigative offices under the command of HSI Special Agent in Charge, San Antonio.
His previous assignments include HSI Assistant Attaché, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Group Supervisor of the National Security and Commercial Fraud investigations group, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, McAllen, Texas. Narcotics Smuggling investigations group, Special Agent in Charge, Boston, Massachusetts. Narcotics Smuggling and HIDTA investigations group, Resident Agent in Charge, Brownsville, Texas. Assistant Special Agent in Charge Benson received a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts.
After almost 30 years practicing law in big law firms, Ms. Brieant has opened her own law practice, the Law Office of Victoria E. Brieant, in which she will continue to represent individuals and entities in commercial litigation, partnership disputes, alternative dispute resolution (mediation or arbitration), intellectual property counseling, licensing and litigation, and serve as a mediator for e-discovery disputes or as a special master to assist in the more efficient resolution of disputes. Ms. Brieant also is engaged in extensive pro bono representations in the area of human rights. She is an active member of The Kiwanis Club of Coral Gables, which supports various youth organizations; the Ponce Business Association, which is a non-profit civic organization in Coral Gables; and is active Troop 7 of Coral Gables and the Tequesta District Committee of the South Florida Council of The Boy Scouts of America, which trains youth in leadership and citizenship.
Prior to opening her own law practice, Ms. Brieant was of counsel with Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP for nine years, where she was a member of the intellectual property group and the litigation group. Prior to joining Stroock, Ms. Brieant was with Coudert Brothers LLP for a dozen years, where she was the administrative partner and hiring partner for the firm’s San Francisco office and was a member of the firm’s antitrust/intellectual property practice group.
Ms. Brieant earned her B.A. from St. Lawrence University in 1980, Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude, and her J.D. from the State University of New York at Buffalo John Lord O’Brian Faculty of Law and Jurisprudence in 1983. She clerked for the Honorable Frederick B. Lacey, United States District Court Judge for the District of New Jersey, Retired.
Guatemala’s Consul, McAllen, Texas
Alba Dalila Cáceres López serves as the Guatemalan Consul in McAllen, Texas since November, 2011. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Law and Social Sciences, Attorney and Notary with a specialization in parliamentary and international law. She has worked as a Guatemalan diplomat in different parts of the United States. She worked for the Guatemalan Congress and has experience in socioeconomic programs. Her studies range from parliament law to migrant relief.
Professor and Researcher,
Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO)
Rodolfo Casillas is a senior professor and researcher at FLACSO Mexico. Professor Casillas has conducted extensive research on Central American undocumented migration through Mexico’s Southern border. His research interests include the study of the conditions of un-recognized refugees, international transmigration through Mexico, Central American migrant children, humanitarian networks and migration, human smuggling and sex and human trafficking. He is the author of three books on human smuggling as well as of multiple reports (over 100) on the conditions of Central American migrants traveling through Mexico. His most recent work explores the role of organized crime in the smuggling of undocumented immigrants in Mexico. His article Masacre de Transmigrantes: Reflexiones e Interrogantes sobre los Significados del Asesinato de 72 migrantes investigates the massacre of a large group of undocumented immigrants in San Fernando, Mexico, and was published in the December 2010 edition of Foreign Affairs Latin America. He is currently working on a volume on violence and migration.
Former Investigative Journalist
While working in the manufacturing engineering field, Victor began his communications career in a Spanish Christian radio station in Edinburg. Years later, he joined World Radio Network producing his own show for most of the 19 affiliates and repeaters in the country. He joined Telemundo as a news reporter, and later became a news anchor. Castillo then continued his career by having dual duties as a reporter and weekend news anchor for Univision. Victor also has written stories for several Spanish newspapers in the Valley, the United States and Mexico. Many of Victor’s stories are on immigration, border security, politics, economy and news happening south of the border.
Action 4 News
Sergio Chapa is the Interactive Manager for KGBT-TV whose website has become one of the most popular along the U.S./Mexico border. Starting his career in print journalism, Sergio has worked along the border, Mexico and in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. Sergio uses social media to report on the drug war south of the border, which has claimed more than 60,000 lives over the past seven years.
Associate Professor of Political Science and Chair of the Women’s Studies Committee,
South Texas College
Jenny Bryson Clark is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Women’s Studies Chairperson at South Texas College. Her areas of expertise are forced migration, human trafficking and gender inequality. For the last eight years, Clark has been actively involved in researching the plight of trafficked women throughout the world and has been creating awareness about sex trafficking and labor trafficking though organizing annual conferences at South Texas College. Clark is a recipient of the NISOD Teaching Excellence Award and, in 2009; Clark received the South Texas Civil Rights Project’s Emma Tenayuca award for her work bringing to light the forms of trafficking and coercion that affect women. Clark is currently conducting research on gender inequality and trafficking in India through a research fellowship at Sambalpur University, Orissa, for an upcoming book.
Assistant Professor and Chair of the Government Department,
Dr. Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera is assistant professor and Chair of the Government Department of the University of Texas at Brownsville. Her areas of expertise are Mexican politics, Mexico-U.S. border relations, immigration and organized crime. Guadalupe’s most recent book is entitled Democracy in “Two Mexicos”: Political Institutions in Oaxaca and Nuevo León (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). She is currently developing a project on the sources of violence and organized crime in the Texas-Tamaulipas border region. The project has been supported by the Open Society Institute and the Social Science Research Council through the Drugs, Security and Democracy (DSD) Postdoctoral Fellowship. Guadalupe is now working on a new book entitled “Los Zetas Inc.”: An Emerging Multinational Corporation and Mexico’s Civil War.
José Miguel Cruz (Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University; M.Sc. from Oxford University) is a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Politics and International Relations and a fellow at the Center for the Administration of Justice at Florida International University. From 1994 to 2006, he was the director of the University Institute for Public Opinion (IUDOP) at Universidad Centroamericana (UCA) in San Salvador and a lecturer in social psychology at the UCA. His research focuses on criminal violence and democratization, youth gangs, and police abuse in Central America. His publications include several books in Spanish on political culture, violence, and youth gangs, and chapters in English on edited books on gangs and Central American violence. His recent articles have appeared in Latin American Politics and Society, Global Crime, New Political Science, and Nueva Sociedad. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, Matamoros
Teresa Elizabeth Cueva-Luna is a researcher at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte since 1996. She is anthropologist (Escuela Nacional de Antropología e Historia) and PhD in Development Studies (University of East Anglia). Her research experience is on development studies and gender. She has got a scholarship from El Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología for a research on pregnancy and HIV (2012-2015) in the northern Mexican border cities (Reynosa and Matamoros Tamaulipas). Since 2011 she has been participating in a project on “Women migrants in transit in Tamaulipas: tales of transgression, resistance and travel strategies “, funded by the UPO-Sevilla, Spain. Cueva-Luna is currently member of Mexico’s National System of Researchers.
Vice President of International Affairs,
Chamber of Commerce and Tourism of Matamoros (CANACO)
Gerardo Acevedo Danache is Vice President of International Affairs of the Chamber of Commerce & Tourists of Matamoros, (known as CANACO), And Vice President for the Federation of Chambers of Commerce & Tourists (known as FECANACO) for the State of Tamaulipas, Mexico.
Gerardo Acevedo Danache served as a Foreign Service Officer for the Mexican Secretariat of Foreign Affairs and was commissioned in Consulates, Consulates General and Embassies for the United Mexican States, in the United States of America, the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Caribbean island nation of Jamaica and the Central American nation of Belize and the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs in Mexico City.
In the United States Mr. Acevedo Danache served in the Consulates of Mexico in: Brownsville, Texas; Los Angeles, California; Miami, Florida; San Bernardino, California; and Las Vegas, Nevada.
He is a practicing attorney in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico specializing in International Law and is currently in charge of the bi-national agenda for the Mayor of Matamoros.
Melissa del Bosque is an award-winning staff writer at The Texas Observer magazine. She specializes in reporting on immigration and the U.S.-Mexico border. Her work has been published in national and international publications including TIME magazine and the Mexico City-based Nexos magazine. Her work has also been featured on NPR, Latino USA, Democracy Now! and PBS.
Researcher and teacher at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, attached to the office of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas. Currently working on her PhD thesis called “Integration of migrants in the labor market of Ciudad Acuña, Coahuila northern border.” She has worked as research topics welfare and poverty, population mobility and internal migration to the border. Coordinated, together with José Juan Olvera Grudiño, the book Communicative processes in migration: from school to the fair folk (2011), published by the COLEF-UDEM-TEC-UR-PORRUA. She is participating in the project team “Women migrants in transit in Tamaulipas: tales of transgression, resistance and travel strategies “, funded by the UPO-Sevilla, Spain.
Immigration Attorney, Brownsville, TX
Marlene Dougherty moved to Brownsville, Texas from Connecticut in 2003. She purchased and rehabilitated a home on a Resaca in the Southmost area where she resides. Marlene practices law out of the old Valley Bicycle building on E. 8th St. downtown, which she has been rehabilitating since 2006. She practices immigration law before the Federal Agencies and is admitted to practice with the Connecticut Judicial Branch, the United States District Courts for Connecticut and the Southern District of Texas, the United States Courts of Appeals for the 5th and 11th Circuits, and the United States Supreme Court. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association and served four terms on their national Consumer Protection and Authorized Practice of Law Committee to assist in combating nationally the unauthorized practice of immigration law(UPIL); in her service to the committee she also had a large part in drafting a 21 page bill for the protection of immigrants which was reviewed in the submission of a Bill by Senator Feinstein’s office of California to make it a federal crime to engage in the UPIL.
Dr.RafaelFernández de Castro
Rafael Fernández de Castro is a renowned political scientist both in Mexico and abroad. He founded and heads the School of International Relations within the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM), which is considered the best B.A. program in the country and one of the best in Latin America. From June 2008 to February 2011, he served as the Foreign Affairs Advisor to the President of Mexico. In this capacity, he chaired important inter-agency task forces and working groups, such as the Commission for the Development of Mexico’s Southern Border; the Academic Committee for the 16th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 16), and the Working Group on Mexico-China Relations.
In addition to ITAM’s School of International Relations, Dr. Fernández de Castro has also founded: the Foreign Affairs en Español Magazine, a sister publication of the world’s most important international relations journal; the U.S.-Mexico Futures Forum with the University of California, Berkeley; the Mexican International Affairs Council (known as COMEXI in its Spanish acronym), serving as its first Vice President; the European Integration Studies Institute (IIE in its Spanish acronym); the Inter-American Program and Studies Center (CEPI in its Spanish acronym); and the Philanthropy and Civil Society Program.
He has written, compiled and overseen the publication of close to thirty books on U.S.-Mexico relations, U.S.-Latin American relations and Mexico’s Foreign Policy. He is currently a member of the Regional Agenda Council for Latin America of the World Economic Forum; the Board of Directors of the Mexican Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; and in 2007, he received the Robert F. Kennedy Visiting Professorship in Latin American Studies from Harvard University. He was research fellow at the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, Carleton University in Canada, and Georgetown University. Additionally he was senior research fellow at the Brookings Institution and the Inter-American Dialogue.
Dr. Fernández de Castro holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Georgetown University. He has been awarded two Fulbright scholarships and the Public Service Award from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs.
Professor Emeritus and Professorial Fellow, Rutgers University
James O. Finckenauer is Distinguished Professor Emeritus and a Professorial Fellow at Rutgers University-Newark, and author or co-author of many books, including his most recent (with Ko-lin Chin) Selling Sex Overseas: Chinese Women and the Realities of Prostitution and Global Sex Trafficking. For the past two years, he has been serving on a task force studying the trafficking of women and girls for the American Psychological Association. Professor Finckenauer was formerly Director of the International Center at the National Institute of Justice, and is past President of the International Association for the Study of Organized Crime and of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. He is currently a visiting lecturer at the Jerry Lee Center of Criminology at the University of Pennsylvania.
Board of Director and Cofounder
Etty Foodman is the vice-president and CFO of Foodman P.A. CPAs and Advisors, one of Florida’s most respected forensic accounting and advisory services firms. Its clients include some of the best-known names in law and business, locally, nationally and internationally. It serves attorneys, large and small businesses, government entities, not-for-profits and individuals. Mrs. Foodman has held this position for 38 years since its founding in 1974. During this 38 year period Mrs. Foodman, as a successful entrepreneur, also founded and developed a flower importing business, a resort clothing manufacturer and a coffee roasting business. Mrs. Foodman is an active member of the civic and charitable community focusing on education, legal and social justice and economic development. She is a Certified Victims of Human Trafficking Coach. Her history community service work includes membership in the Anti-Defamation League, Hadassah, Miami Children’s Hospital, membership in a local chapter of Brandeis University, Womens’ Fund, Junior League of Miami and several Unlicensed Practice of Law Committees of the Florida Bar Association.
Assistant Special Agent in ChargeHomeland Security InvestigationsUS Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
Jason M. Gialanella is the Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC) of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Harlingen, Texas. HSI is the second largest criminal investigative agency in the United States and the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security. Mr. Gialanella assumed the role of ASAC Harlingen in May 2012. He oversees HSI’s programs, operations, and initiatives to investigate human smuggling and trafficking, identity and benefit fraud, and transnational criminal street gangs in Cameron & Willacy Counties, as well as weapons and ammunition smuggling, worksite immigration enforcement, and border violence support across the Rio Grande Valley.
Prior to becoming ASAC, Mr. Gialanella held a number of leadership positions in ICE. Among them, he was the Resident Agent in Charge, Savannah, Georgia; and Section Chief within the Financial Investigations Unit at ICE Headquarters, Washington, D.C., where he assisted in the development of international and domestic initiatives designed to combat vulnerabilities in America’s financial and trade sectors that could be exploited by terrorist and other criminal organizations. Mr. Gialanella also served as the ICE Representative to Portugal while temporarily assigned at the U.S. Embassy Lisbon.
Mr. Gialanella began his law enforcement career as an agent with the United States Border Patrol in 2000. In 2001, he became a Special Agent with the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Export Enforcement, in San Jose, California. In 2003, Mr. Gialanella transferred to the newly created Office of Investigations with ICE in Miami, Florida.
Mr. Gialanella holds a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from the University of West Florida, where he graduated cum laude. Mr. Gialanella is currently a Master’s Candidate at the Florida State University’s College of Criminology & Criminal Justice.
Immigration Attorney, Harlingen, TX
Jodi Goodwin practices immigration law in the trenches on the border in Harlingen, Texas. Since 1995 she has represented 1,000′s of asylum seekers, economic migrants, long-term permanent residents, and United States citizens in removal proceedings and before government agencies. Jodi also represents immigrants in federal court in both criminal and civil proceedings. She went to school at the University of Texas (Hook ‘Em!) and St. Mary’s University.Jodi believes the heart and soul of every lawyer should be deeply grounded in truth and a search for justice.She enjoys teaching, especially to new practitioners, and devoting her time to community and pro bono projects.She has many accolades including Texas Lawyer Go-To Finalist, Texas Super Lawyer and Best Lawyers in America. She is member of IMMLAW – The National Consortium of Immigration Law Firms. One of her most coveted achievements was being awarded the Arthur C. Helton Award for Advancing Human Rights in 2007.
Researcher and activist; Edinburg, TX and Guatemala
Jennifer Harbury is an attorney, author and activist. She graduated from the Harvard law School in 1978, arriving in Texas to work with the migrant program for Texas Rural Legal Aid, Inc. She has spent the last twenty years working for human rights reforms both in Central America and in the United States. She spent a number of years monitoring human rights in Guatemala and pressing cases in the Inter -American system of the O.A.S., and she has written three books about her experiences, “Searching for Everardo”, (Warner Books 1997), “Bridge of Courage” (Common Courage Press, 1993) and “Truth, Torture and the American Way”(Beacon Books 2005). She is currently working at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc in Weslaco, Texas, and is engaged in a number of cases which focus on human rights abuses in the U.S..
Ms. Kuhner is the Director of the Instituto para las Mujeres en la Migración (IMUMI), A.C. (Institute for Women in Migration). Since 1998, Ms. Kuhner has focused on migration issues in Mexico. From 1998 to 2005, she worked with Sin Fronteras, one of the leading migrant rights advocacy organizations in Mexico.
Ms. Kuhner has also worked as a consultant on issues of migration and trafficking in persons for various institutions including the Ford Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, Catholic Relief Services, the American Bar Association, and El Colegio de la Frontera Norte.
In 2005, she received a research grant from the MacArthur Foundation to document the situation of women migrants in transit and detention in Mexico. Information from the study was published through the Mexican Autonomous Institute of Technology´s Centro de Estudios y Programas Interamericanos and the Migration Policy Institute, and lead to the development of IMUMI.
Ms. Kuhner holds a B.A. from Occidental College and a law degree from the University of Seattle, and has studied Migration Policy through the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico (UNAM).
Laura J. Lederer founded and directed The Protection Project at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1997. From 2001 to 2009, she served as Senior Advisor on Trafficking in Persons to Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs, Paula J. Dobriansky, and then Senior Director of Global Projects in the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons at the U.S. Department of State.
From 2001 – 2009, she was the Executive Director of the Senior Policy Operating Group on Trafficking in Persons, a high level interagency policy group that staffed the President’s cabinet-level Inter-agency Task Force on Trafficking in Persons. She received her B.A. magna cum laude in comparative religions from the University of Michigan. After 10 years in philanthropy as director of community and social concerns at a private foundation, she continued her education at the University of San Francisco Law School and DePaul College of Law and received her juris doctorate in June 1994.
In 1998, she was awarded the Gustavus Meyers Center for Study of Human Rights Annual Award for Outstanding Work on Human Rights. In 2008, she was the recipient of the Adele Herwitz Award of CCFNS International. She received the University of Michigan Alumni Humanitarian Service Award, the greatest award to living University of Michigan alumni, for her work on human trafficking. In 2009, she received The Protection Project 2009 Human Rights Award of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies for her invaluable contribution to the global movement to stop human trafficking.
In 2008, Laura founded Global Centurion, a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating modern slavery by focusing on the demand side of the problem – the perpetrators, exploiters, buyers, and end-users of human beings, seeking to prevent modern slavery at its source. Under her leadership, GC has: (1) Developed significant demand-focused research and programs; (2) Provided cutting-edge education, awareness and advocacy training to communities, civic leaders, NGOs, law enforcement and at-risk populations; and, (3) Established leading partnerships and collaborative networks to respond to modern slavery.
ProBar, Harlingen, Texas
Meredith Linsky has been the Director of ProBAR, the South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project, since August 2000. Ms. Linsky graduated from the University of California, Davis, School of Law, in May 1998. After graduation she moved to South Texas to serve as the Legal Rights Presentation Attorney with ProBAR. From 1999 to 2000 she worked as a Legal Research/Writing Attorney at the Office of the Federal Defender for the Eastern District of California. There she worked on habeas cases challenging indefinite detention. Ms. Linsky has been instrumental in providing legal rights presentations to detainees in South Texas since 1998. She has trained and mentored attorneys throughout the country on the best practices for providing legal rights presentations in detention settings. She has also defended hundreds of individuals in removal proceedings. In 2007, Ms. Linsky received a President’s Award from the President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association in recognition of her work. In 2007, the UC Davis School of Law honored her with a James T. Smith Legacy Award. In 2011, Ms. Linsky volunteered for four months in Kampala, Uganda, with the Association of Women Lawyers of Uganda. She returned to ProBAR in January 2012, inspired by the women lawyers and advocates she met while living abroad. In June 2012 the American Immigration Lawyers Association awarded her the Arthur C. Helton Human Rights Award for her contribution to advancing the cause of human rights.
Richard Marosi is an award-winning journalist for the L.A. Times who has covered the U.S.-Mexico border for 8 years. His coverage has ranged from Mexican drug war reporting to border security and immigration issues. His most recent series, Without a Country, documented the lives of people impacted by the record number of deportations from the U.S.
Special Operations Supervisor Henry Mendiola entered on duty with the U.S. Border Patrol in 1988 as a member of Academy Class 226. He has served with the Border Patrol in El Paso, Falfurrias, McAllen, Harlingen and the Rio Grande Valley Sector Headquarters.
Throughout his career SOS Mendiola has held numerous positions as a frontline agent and supervisor to include boat captain, K-9 handler, drug demand reduction instructor and International Law Enforcement Academy instructor in Botswana, Africa. Recently, he served as an Acting Assistant Chief Patrol Agent at RGV Sector Headquarters. Additionally SOS Mendiola has been assigned to the Office of Border Patrol in Washington, D.C., on temporary assignments to the Commissioner’s Situation Room, the Office of International Affairs and the Secure Border Initiative.
SOS Mendiola is currently the Special Operations Supervisor in charge of the Communications Division at RGV Sector Headquarters with direct oversight of the Office of Public Affairs, the Border Community Liaison and the Field Communications Branch.
SOS Mendiola is currently attending the University of Texas Pan-American and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Global Security.
Román Ortega-Cowan is an experienced federal and state court litigator. His publications employ a comparative analysis of the Nazi and Khmer Rouge political and legal regimes as the basis for an argument to extend the protections of the Genocide Convention, and set forth a rehabilitative analysis of UN enforcement mechanisms to reduce harm to civilian populations of nations subject to a Security Council Article 39 determination. He has experience in Turkey, Israel, Cambodia, Thailand and China.
Román attended Boston College and the Florida State University College of Law. During law school, he served as Editor-in-Chief of Law Review and interned with the Honorable John Antoon II (U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida).
U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Florida
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida
International Bar Association – Human Rights Institute, War Crimes Committee
American Bar Association – International Criminal Law Committee
Florida Bar Association – International Law Section
Ildefonso Ortiz has been covering narco violence and its effects along the South Texas Border for The Monitor and The Brownsville Herald since 2008 and other topics since 2004. He has collaborated and been featured in various publications including the recent book “The Executioners Men” by George Grayson and Samuel Logan.
During his time at the Brownsville Herald Ortiz won verious APME awards for his coverage of drug cartel crimes.
In 2005 Ortiz was part of a team of reporters that won the APME Star Investigative Reporter of the Year award and the Headliner’s Foundation Charles E. Green Award.
His hobbies include MMA, Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and competitive shooting sports.
El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, Tijuana
María Dolores París Pombo is a professor of the department of cultural studies at Colegio de la Frontera Norte, Tijuana. Her areas of interest are political sociology and sociology of the culture. She specializes in migration, interethnic relations and human rights. She received her Ph.D. in social sciences with a specialty in political science. She is an expert in migration and has been publish on several journals.
Executive Director and Founder, The Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking
In 2011, Anna Rodriguez, considered to be “the mother” of anti human trafficking movement within the United States, was inducted into the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame for her work against human trafficking. Her work was also commended by Florida U.S Senator Marco Rubio.
Anna’s work has been recognized by author David Batstone in his book Not for Sale, as well as a Human Trafficking documentary produced by Robert Macarrelli. Anna has also been recognized by Producer Michael Cory Davis on “Cargo: Innocence Lost,” Marynoll Production on “Lives for Sale”, and by many local and national television stations, including CBS, Univision, Telemundo, Fox News, and CNN. She is currently working on a book on the issue of human trafficking and two documentaries.
Anna has received numerous recognitions and awards for her passion and dedication in identifying, rescuing and restoring victims’ lives. Anna travels around the U.S speaking and training law enforcement, community organizations and faith based organizations about human trafficking.
In 2004 Anna founded the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking whose headquarters are located in Clearwater, Florida. They have established 4 new Rescue and Restore Coalitions in the State of Florida as well as 3 human trafficking task forces.
Anna received the 2009 Women of Peace Award and was on the top 10 finalist for the 2009 Florida Women Hall of Fame.
Since 2008 Christopher Sherman has been the Rio Grande Valley Correspondent for The Associated Press. Prior to that he worked at newspapers in Florida and Maryland. He was a 2010-11 Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan.
Attorney of Law, Baker & McKenzie, LLP
Allan J. Sullivan is a partner in the Dispute Resolution Practice Group and member of the Firm’s Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals Practice Group. Mr. Sullivan has extensive experience handling commercial litigation matters and representing companies and individuals in the defense of white collar criminal and regulatory investigations and prosecutions. After joining the Firm, Mr. Sullivan served as head of the practice group devoted to the investigations and business crimes. Although based in Miami, Mr. Sullivan has appeared in trial and appellate courts throughout the United States. He is consistently listed as a “Best Lawyer in Criminal Defense: White-Collar” in The Best Lawyers in America and as a “Top Attorney” in the South Florida Legal Guide.
Mr. Sullivan frequently represents professionals, executives and businesses in connection with white-collar criminal and regulatory matters – both during the investigative stages and post-indictment or post-complaint. In addition to handling numerous local and regional controversies for businesses and management, he also has substantial experience in the areas of securities and class action litigation. Mr. Sullivan likewise advises clients on the design and implementation of compliance programs. He also frequently speaks at seminars and functions on various topics, including government investigations, immigration enforcement, compliance, attorney client privilege issues, international arbitration and the exterritorial application of US laws. Mr. Sullivan is currently leading the representation of a global enterprise with respect to one of the largest criminal immigration enforcement actions pursued in the United States.
Education Georgetown University Law Center (J.D. magna cum laude) (1982) Northeastern University (B.S. summa cum laude) (1979)
Executive Director and Co-Founder
Building Empowerment by Stopping Trafficking (B.E.S.T)
Linda J. Sullivan has been involved with the abolition of human sex trafficking for over 20 years. She is a Master Certified Victims of Human Trafficking Coach and was the Chair of the Women’s Fund of Miami’s Sex Trafficking Committee. She is a member of Junior League (where she was awarded the Provisional of the Year Award for 2011) and Soroptimist International.
Ms. Sullivan is also Founder and Principal of L J Sullivan Certified Public Accountant, LLC, PCAOB-registered and authorized to perform audits of public companies. L J Sullivan Certified Public Accountant, LLC also conducts private audits and accounting and tax services; serves clients as a business, financial and international tax consultant; provides litigation support and forensic services in connection with complex commercial litigation matters and other business controversies; and offers financial planning services.
She is a court-appointed Guardian ad litem and holds Board seats on many non-profit organizations including DFYIT- Drug Free Youth in Town, the Children’s Survival Network, and the United States Military Educators Association, and has been Chair of Not for Profit Committees focusing on Stopping Sex Trafficking. Ms. Sullivan has been appointed by the Supreme Court of Florida as the Public member on the Eleventh Circuit Unlicensed Practice of Law Circuit Committee, and sits on the Board of AAFM as their USA Global Tax Adviser.
Ana R. Sverdlick is a PhD candidate at RutgersUniversity. Her dissertation is on human trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation, where she is conducting a comparative case study between Argentina and Brazil. Mrs. Sverdlick was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She graduated in 1992 from the School of Law, University of Buenos Aires, and during 1999-2000 she obtained her specialization in Criminal Law at the University of Palermo, Buenos Aires. Throughout her career, she worked for seven years at the Argentinean National Judiciary Power in different criminal and federal courts investigating criminal cases. As a private attorney, among other cases, she was a member of the legal team representing the Delegación de Asociaciones Israelitas Argentinas (D.A.I.A.) in the court-case during the investigation of the terrorist attack that was committed against that association in 1994.
In 2007 Mrs. Sverdlick received her Master degree in Global Affairs at Rutgers University-Newark, with a concentration in Terrorism and Global Security. Mrs. Sverdlick is a former Fellow at the Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights at YaleLawSchool.
Hidalgo County Sheriff
Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Omar Zamora entered on duty with the U.S. Border Patrol in 1997 as a member of Academy Class 346. He has served with the Border Patrol in:
Eagle Pass, Texas
Del Rio, Texas
Rio Grande Valley Sector Headquarters
Throughout his career SBPA Zamora has held numerous positions as a frontline agent and supervisor to include:
DEA Task Force Agent
Physical Techniques Instructor at the U.S. Border Patrol Academy in Charleston, SC
Office of Incident Management Agent
Team Leader in the Del Rio Sector’s Special Response Team
SBPA Zamora has been deployed to numerous cities throughout the U.S. to include the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics in response to 911 attacks. SBPA Zamora is currently the Border Community Liaison Coordinator for the Rio Grande Valley Sector and organizes the community outreach programs for nine border patrol stations. Omar Zamora is an alumnus of the University of Texas at Brownsville. He has a Master’s in Public Policy & Management and an undergraduate degree in Police Administration.