The reading will be followed by a panel discussion featuring Dr. Jose Coll (Director, School of Social Work at Texas State), Dr. Luis Torres (College of Social Work, University of Houston), Benjamine “Carry” Huffman (Chief of the Strategic Planning and Analysis Directorate at U.S. Border Patrol Headquartersand), and Dr. John Mckiernen-Gonzalez (Director, Center for the Study of the Southwest), along with Mr. Schafer and mediator Dr. Mark Trahan
Steve Schafer visits Texas State University to read from his new book, The Border, a novel about four Mexican teenagers who flee to the U.S. through the scorching Sonoran Desert after getting caught in the cross fire of the narco-violence along the U.S./Mexico border. The novel attempts to put a human face on the conversation around immigration, particularly Latino child immigration. After the reading, a panel discussion entitled “Immigration and the Refugee Experience” will focus on the experiences and criminalization of immigrants with insights from Dr. Jose Coll (Director, School of Social Work at Texas State), Dr. Luis Torres (College of Social Work, University of Houston), Chief Benjamine “Carry” Huffman (Chief of Strategic Planning and Analysis Directorate at U.S. Border Patrol Headquarters), and Dr. John Mckiernen-Gonzalez (Director, Center for the Study of the Southwest).
Steve Schafer has a Masters in International Studies from the Lauder Institute at the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA form Wharton. He grew up in Houston, Texas, and has since had the privilege to live, work, volunteer, and travel internationally. The bulk of this experience has been in Latin America. Steve lives in Philadelphia with his wife and two children.
Dr. Jose Coll is director of the School of Social work at Texas State University. He has held various administrative positions including Chair of Military Social Work at the University of Southern California, founder of the USC San Diego Academic Center, and founder and director of the Office of Veteran Student Services at Saint Leo University. His research interests have been predominantly on worldview development and counseling veterans with a focus on veteran transition. He is the author and co-editor of numerous publications, including: The Counselors Primer for Counseling Veterans (Linus Publications, 2010); co-editor of The Handbook of Military Social Work, (Wiley Press, 2012); Student Veterans in Higher Education: A Primer for Administrators, Faculty, and Advisors, (Oxford University Press, 2015) and most recent Civilian Lives of U.S. Veterans: Issues and Identities, (Praeger Publishing, 2016).
Born in Havana, Cuba, Dr. Coll migrated to the United States during the 1980 Mariel Boat Lift. After serving as a noncommissioned officer in the United States Marine Corps, he completed a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Saint Leo University, his master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Central Florida, and a Ph.D. in Counseling Education and Supervision from the University of South Florida. He is also a graduate of the University of California-Berkeley’s Executive Leadership Academy (ELA), Harvard University Institute for Management Development Program (MDP) and Management & Leadership in Education (MLE), and American Council on Education (ACE) Fellows Program.
Dr. Luis R. Torres is Associate Dean for Research and Strategic Partnerships and Director of the Center for Drug and Social Policy Research in the Graduate College of Social Work at the University of Houston. He is also Thrust Lead for Transnational Flows of People (Policy) in the BTI Institute, a DHS Center of Excellence for Borders, Trade, and Immigration Research at the University of Houston. His research focuses on co-occurring mental health, substance use and medical disorders, and on community and family strengthening efforts, with a particular focus on Hispanics. He is currently Co-PI of two 3-year grants from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to deliver HIV/HCV, Mental Health, and Substance Use Prevention Interventions to Hispanics, African Americans, Asians, and other minorities ages 18 to 24; Co-PI of a NIDA-funded, multi-site study examining the effectiveness of Recovery High Schools in three states; and PI of the NIDA-funded University of Houston Drug Abuse Research Development Program (UHDARDP-II). He is also Co-Lead Evaluator of a large RCT to examine the effectiveness of the Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education Program that targets primarily Hispanics and African Americans. A native of Puerto Rico, Dr. Torres has a doctorate in clinical psychology from Fordham University in New York City and over 25 years of clinical, administrative, and research experience.
Benjamine “Carry” Huffman is the Chief of the Strategic Planning and Analysis Directorate at U.S. Border Patrol Headquarters. In this capacity, Chief Huffman supports the Border Patrol’s 20 Sectors by implementing CBP/DHS program objectives, evaluating programs for efficiency and effectiveness, and coordinating with DHS and CBP senior managers on a range of national security issues. He also plays an integral part in the development and management of strategic systems and processes to enable the U.S Border Patrol to Protect the Nation by Securing America’s Borders and Strengthening the Border Patrol.
Throughout his nearly 32 year career, Chief Huffman has had numerous temporary duty assignments. In particular, Chief Huffman previously served as the Acting Director, State, Local and Tribal Liaison under the office of the Commissioner. He was responsible for advising the Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner, and program offices on the impacts of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) policies and initiatives on state, local and tribal stakeholders to ensure that state and local concerns are considered during the development of new policies and procedures. He was the Acting Director of the Special Operations Group (SOG). SOG was the global response team for CPB and consisted of Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC) and Border Patrol Search, Trauma and Rescue Units. In 1987 he became a member of BORTAC and has served on various missions in the Western Hemisphere including Operation Green Blanket, operations in South Africa, and Operation Snowcap in Bolivia.
Chief Huffman earned an Associates of Arts Degree in Criminal Justice at South Plains Junior College in Levelland, Texas, a Bachelor’s Degree in General Studies and a Master’s Degree in Homeland Security from Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas. He has also completed the Capstone General and Flag Officer Course at the National Defense University and the Senior Executive Managers in Government from Harvard.
Dr. John Mckiernan-González has been named Jerome H. and Catherine E. Supple Professor of Southwestern Studies at Texas State University. He Dr. Mckiernan-González holds a Ph.D. in U.S. history from the University of Michigan. His teaching interests include borderlands and Mexican American history, and he has published widely in the field, with much of his scholarship focused on issues of public health and race/ethnicity. His work includes Fevered Measures: Public Health and Race at the Texas-Mexico Border, 1848-1942 (Duke University Press, 2012) and a co-edited collection, Precarious Prescriptions: Contested Histories of Race and Health in North America (University of Minnesota Press, 2014). He is currently at work on a monograph exploring the obstacles confronted by people of color in the medical profession, both in the Southwest and in the U.S. more broadly. Dr. Mckiernan-González also has produced a large body of intellectual work in various non-traditional genres and formats, including digital scholarship, public history projects, reports, and online publications.