I. Course Rationale
Since the 1940s, US control of the Southwest border has remained a major challenge in immigration policy. Border control has become one of the most debated topics in the country, including in federal and state legislative bodies. Annually thousands of unauthorized migrants cross the US-Mexico border into the United States to participate in US labor markets and in other social institutions. A consequence of unauthorized immigration, and of the implementation of border control measures for deterrence, has been the deaths of hundreds of migrants annually. Over the years, the deaths have added up into the thousands. The social effects of border control and the occurrence of migrant deaths have become sociological topics investigated by sociologists and other researchers to increase our knowledge and understanding of international migration.
II. Course Aims and Objectives
This course is designed to provide a sociological understanding of border control and migrant deaths at the US-Mexico border. Of particular importance for the course is research knowledge concerning border control policies and patterns of migrant deaths.
Specific Learning Objectives
- Gain information and understanding of the development and effects of US border control policies concerning the following: border control campaigns, social and public perceptions of the border, migrant death patterns in border areas, government plans to redirect migration, ethics of border control, human rights and critical perspectives related to migrant deaths, bureaucratic ideology in border control, migrant death forensics, smuggling, community responses to migrant deaths, recent research on border control and migrant deaths.
- Review and discuss different approaches and measures for border control.
- Review and analyze government statistical reports concerning annual migrant apprehensions at the border and annual counts of migrant deaths in border sectors.
- Develop an awareness of the significance of border control for the development of US immigration policy.
- Review major impacts of US border control measures for local communities.
Cultural Diversity Objective:
“This course carries the flag for Cultural Diversity in the United States. Cultural Diversity courses are designed to increase your familiarity with the variety and richness of the American cultural experience. You should therefore expect a substantial portion of your grade to come from assignments covering the practices, beliefs, and histories of at least one U.S. cultural group that has experienced persistent marginalization.”
“Ideally, the Cultural Diversity Flag will challenge students to explore the beliefs and practices of an underrepresented group in relation to their own cultural experiences so that they engage in an active process of self-reflection.”
III. Format and Procedures
The course is designed with the expectation that it will follow an intertwined format of lectures and class discussions. A key expectation is that students will come to class prepared to discuss thematic issues covered in the class, or at least come to class with a curious and critical predisposition to become intellectually engaged in the class. All students are expect to contribute to class discussion, with a high regard for an open academic dialogue, which values respect for the ideas, opinions, and views of others. Class attendance is assumed and expected, and highly encouraged.
Students will have an opportunity to evaluate qualities of the course, including the instructor. The purpose of the student evaluations is to provide feedback to help improve the teaching experience.
My assumptions about the nature of immigration in U.S. society is that it a) follows an historical course, b) flows from the interaction between human agency and social structures, c) takes normal paths of social division and degrees of accommodation and social incorporation, d) is partly affected by social constructions regarding different national-origin groups, and e) has its most profound significance within the dynamics of social reproduction (constant remaking of societies).
V. Course Requirements
1. Class attendance and participation policy
To get the most out of this class you should attend all classes and arrive on time. Also, you should review previous lecture notes and bring questions to class about points you did not clearly understand—including points from the assigned readings. Please be attentive in class (turn off phones or set to vibration). You are greatly encouraged to participate in class discussion, and please do so in a manner that respects the rights of others to also participate. If you have a problem hearing the lectures and discussion, or viewing class presentations, please let the instructor know immediately.
UT Austin policy requires that you notify course instructors at least 14 days in advance if you plan to be absent due to a religious holiday. You will be given an opportunity to make up activities (exams, assignments, etc.) that you miss because of your absence due to a religious holiday. You will be given a reasonable time to make up an exam or assignment after your absence.
2. Course Readings/Materials
a) Required books
Dunn, Timothy J. 2009. Blockading the Border and Human Rights: The El Paso Operation that Remade Immigration Enforcement. Austin: University of Texas Press.
De Leon, Jason. 2015. The Land of Open Graves: Living and Dying in the Migrant Trail. Oakland: University of California Press.
b) Websites to review:
Migration Policy Institute: http://www.migrationpolicy.org/
Pew Hispanic Center: http://pewhispanic.org/
UC-Davis Migration News: http://migration.ucdavis.edu/mn/
U.S. Department of Homeland Security (Immigration Statistics): http://www.dhs.gov/immigration-statistics/
Census Bureau: http://www.census.gov/
Population Reference Bureau: http://www.prb.org/
3. Assignments, Assessments, Evaluation, Dates
a) The course contains three exams and a paper requirement. The exams will consist of multiple-choice items. All exams have to be taken on the dates specified; the only exceptions to this rule are cases involving an emergency and authorization by UT Austin. In such exceptional cases, essay makeup exams for the first two regular exams have to be taken within a week after the originally designated dates in the specified sociology room for makeups. In the rare possibility that a student needs to take a makeup for the third exam, arrangements with have to be made with the instructor. Makeup exams will consist of essay questions only. Students who miss a scheduled exam must alert the instructor beforehand and consult with the instructor regarding the makeup. There is no procedure for making up the Final Exam outside of cases that are of a true exceptional and unusual personal pressing situation. Students have to take all exams on the dates and times specified. Exams cannot be taken earlier or later than the dates and times specified.
The paper requirement is a research brief of 1,350 words (5 pages) on a class-related border/migration topic for which at least three (3) research journal publications are consulted and cited in the text, and placed in the Reference. The motive for the paper is to give the student an opportunity to handle research journal publications. Grading of the paper will include checking for the required number of words (1,350), for the three required journal sources, as well for the adequacy and strength of the brief.
b) Students have the option of writing a review of a journal research article on border control and/or migrant deaths for extra credit. The article and journal must be approved by the instructor, and the possible number of extra credit points gained will be from one (1) to ten (10) added to your cumulative grade points. Guidelines for writing this research report are given at the end of this syllabus. Please consult the course schedule below for the due date of the research report.
c) All dates specified in this syllabus for course topics, exams, and papers are subject to change given unforeseen developments.
4. Use of Canvas: Canvas will be used to help manage the course and to pursue interaction with students. Canvas will be used to make announcements, distribute information, communicate with students, and post grades. Students are encouraged to use Canvas to communicate and share relevant comments and information. Please check your Canvas site regularly to look for communications from the instructor or from other students in the class. Support for using Canvas can be obtained from the following websites: https://utexas.instructure.com/courses/633028/pages/welcome-to-canvas; http://guides.instructure.com/m/4212
a) Three exams of 50 multiple-choice items (worth a total of 100 points).
- 100 points per exam x 3 exams = 300 points
b) Paper requirement worth 50 points
Total possible points = 350
c) Letter grades based on 350 possible cumulative points:
A = 325-350 A- = 315-324
B+= 304-323 B = 290-303 B-= 280-289
C+= 269-279 C = 255-268 C-= 245-254
D+= 234-244 D = 220-233 D-= 210-219
F = 209 or fewer points