Death by Policy: A Conversation in Partnership with the South Texas Human Rights Center

Wednesday, September 3, 2014 from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm
In the Main Gallery at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft
4848 Main Street, Houston, Texas 77002 (Map)

As the La Frontera exhibition comes to a close, please join HCCC and South Texas Human Rights Center for a panel discussion about migrant deaths and the struggle to promote human rights in South Texas. Migrant deaths in Texas are at an all-time high. Official statistics document 271 deaths in Texas during 2012 and 235 in 2013, making Texas the state with the majority of border deaths for both years. Four Houston-area experts will discuss U.S. border policies and other immigration issues as they relate to specific works in the exhibition.

Eduardo O. Canales was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, of migrant farm-worker parents. His early jobs included farm work, shoe shining, barber- and beauty-shop sweeping and the neighborhood youth corps, followed by factory work, cafeteria clean-up, and bottling-plant/warehouse work. After junior college, Canales attended the University of Houston, where he became involved with MAYO and La Raza Unida Party, beginning a long history of political activism and organizing. He has served the social and economic justice movements in many capacities and with several organizations, including the Congreso de Aztlan (the National Committee of La Raza Unida Party), the Texas Farmworkers, the Longshoremen, SEIU’ and Centro Aztlan de Servicios Sociales in Houston. Eduardo has been an advocate for immigrant rights, serving on the Board of Directors of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, presently, as chairperson. He is the director/lead organizer and one of the founders of the South Texas Human Rights Center, organizing and advocating for human rights and for the prevention of migrant deaths.

Michelle Garcia is a Houston-based artist and recent graduate of the University of Houston School of Art, with a minor in Mexican-American studies. As a volunteer for the South Texas Human Rights Center, she has assisted with the installment of water stations and documented the Center’s efforts to prevent migrant deaths. Among her photography is a series of silver-gelatin prints shot at the Sacred Heart Cemetery in Falfurrias, Texas, where many unidentified migrant bodies have been buried without any DNA testing.

Maria Jimenez has been a community organizer in the Latino community for the last 47 years. She has organized several community-based campaigns for social change, provided concrete support to immigrant workers’ fight for social justice, and voiced immigrant-rights concerns in community and political processes already at work locally, nationally and internationally. From 1987-2002, she directed the American Friends Service Committee Immigration Law Enforcement Monitoring Project, which documented human-rights violations in the enforcement along the U.S.-Mexico border. In September of 2009, she authored the American Civil Liberties/National Commission of Human Rights of Mexico report, Humanitarian Crisis: Migrant Deaths at the U.S.-Mexico Border. In the last two years, she has been a co-participant in efforts to reduce migrant deaths in South Texas with the South Texas Human Rights Center, the Prevention of Migrant Deaths Working Group, Los Angeles Del Desierto and the Texas Civil Rights Project.

Christine Kovic, Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, has conducted research in the area of human rights for the past 20 years. Her current research addresses the intersection of human rights and immigration, with emphasis on Central American migrants crossing Mexico in their journey north and on the organizing efforts of Latin@s in the United States. She authored the 2013 report, “Searching for the Living, the Dead, and the New Disappeared on the Migrant Trail in Texas,” with the Prevention of Migrant Deaths Working Group.

Note: This event is intended for a mature audience. The viewpoints expressed in this discussion do not necessarily represent those of Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.


Above: Kerianne Quick, “Greetings from Mexico or Souvenirs from the Border” (detail), 2013.  Key fob/llavero. Steel, leather. Photo by Mike Holmes.