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Fencing Policies: Examining U.S. & Mexican Immigration Laws

By Tara Graham
May 20
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Screen Shot 2013-07-22 at 11.41.40 PMFencing Policies is a website produced by U.C. Berkeley undergraduate student Maria Esparza during the 2013 spring semester.


Recently, immigration has been all over the news but not many of these conversations have touched on human rights. There are different angles to the immigration debate; this website will focus on economic migrants’ rights. Specifically, what immigration laws are in place in the United States and Mexico? Do these immigration laws ensure that people’s human rights are protected regardless of how they enter the country? How do the laws in Mexico and the U.S. differ? Do they have any similarities? Why is immigration, especially “illegal” immigration, such a debated topic in the United States and not Mexico?

Being the daughter of Mexican immigrants who came to the United States in pursuit of the American dream has molded my world into a space where I am neither American nor Mexican. I have grown up with Mexican values and traditions, but have also been influenced by American culture and literature. My life has been a constant battle between two cultures, but I am thankful because I can take the best of both and combine them in order to create my own traditions. I celebrate Thanksgiving by eating tamales and Mexican rice; I celebrate Christmas by staying up until midnight to open the presents that “Santa Claus” brought; I celebrate birthdays by wearing party hats and singing las mañanitas before pushing the person’s face into the cake just like it is done in Mexico. Ralph Waldo Emerson once proposed, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail,” and that is what I plan to do by using my Mexican-American roots to create a new path.

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The Narrative #Selfie


Lose the shirt off my back? Nah.

When life got dicey, I opened my closet doors, bypassed the blouses, and earned a (modest) payday by selling used hangers in 25-pack bundles.

More recently, I put my hustle into play at 500 Startups, the world’s most active venture capital fund and startup accelerator, where I led content, branding, marketing, operations, and corporate partnerships for business development and global programs.

Before transitioning into tech, I worked in higher education, teaching online research and media production classes across a variety of disciplines at the University of California, Berkeley. During that time, I also worked as the Director and Executive Producer of Digital Media Projects at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, where I co-founded and led The #GlobalPOV Project, a mixed-media approach to thinking about poverty, inequality, and undertaking poverty action.

In addition, I was the Director of Media at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, where I had the opportunity to interview Bashar al-Assad in his presidential palace in Damascus, Syria, in late December of 2010. I asked Assad if he considered himself a dictator. He dodged the inquiry, but his actions in the immediate weeks, months, and years to follow answered the question . . . and then some. Sadly.

Before that, I was a practicing journalist and graduate fellow at the University of Southern California. During that time, I worked as a web reporter and photographer for KCET’s “SoCal Connected,”​ as an online editor for the London-based New Statesman magazine, and as the co-editor-in-chief of USC Annenberg’s award-winning digital news website. I got my start in journalism as a full-time associate editor (and employee #20!) at P✪PSUGAR, a Sequoia-backed content and commerce startup turned global media empire.

My freelance reporting has been featured in NBC, CBS, and ABC news broadcasts and in online publications, including The Huffington Post. I have also done manuscript editing for various authors with recognized commercial and university presses.

You can find me tap dancing in the dark corners of my imagination to a sold-out audience of — none. Like most everything else, it’s all for fun.

Let’s connect! Join me on Twitter or Instagram or LinkedIn.


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