I-GMAP Webinar: The U.S. Southern Border as an Atrocity Prevention Site

October 14, 2020

On Wednesday, October 14 from 3:00pm to 4:30pm EDT, the Institute for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention held their first webinar to discuss the US Southern Border as an Atrocity Prevention Site.

American law and politics have combined with the plight of central and south American refugees to transform the US-Mexico border into a lethal zone. Thousands of refugees have died in attempts to cross into American territory; thousands more have been arrested, detained, separated from their children, and in many instances imprisoned in state and federal facilities under conditions that may constitute violations of international law. American immigration and criminal law have effectively combined to form a distinctly new and lethal form of “crimmigration law,” one that sees refugees primarily as criminals deserving of imprisonment.

Has America’s southern border become an atrocity prevention site? This webinar of distinguished legal specialists and border activists explored this and related questions: how do existing federal policies and agencies change when we see them through an “atrocity prevention lens?” What mechanisms and approaches for atrocity prevention familiar from other contexts are valuable transferred to the US southern border? How can protection of and advocacy for refugees draw on the tools of atrocity prevention in their work?


Yael Schacher, Senior U.S. Advocate, Refugees International

Yael Schacher is senior U.S. advocate at Refugees International in Washington D.C., where she focuses on asylum, refugee admissions, temporary protected status, and humanitarian visas. Most of her recent reports for Refugees International have focused on U.S. border policies that put asylum seekers at risk of harm. Prior to joining Refugees International, Yael worked on her forthcoming book about the history of asylum in the United States as a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Historical Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Before that she spent several years teaching about immigration at the University of Connecticut and volunteering at the legal services office of the Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants. She has an M.A. in History and a Ph.D. in American Studies from Harvard University.

María Angélica Montesinos, Program Coordinator, Asylum Access

María Angélica Montesinos is a Program Coordinator at Asylum Access, a nonprofit that provides life-changing legal services to thousands of refugees per year. With 7 years of experience as a litigator in civil and family law, María is responsible for overseeing the local offices in the north and south of Mexico as well as overseeing the Department of Strategic Litigation.

Shannon Fyfe, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, George Mason University

Shannon Fyfe is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at George Mason University, where she is also a Fellow in the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy, and an Adjunct Professor at the Antonin Scalia Law School. She holds both a Ph.D. in philosophy and a J.D. from Vanderbilt University. Her main research interests are in legal philosophy, ethics, and political philosophy, with a particular focus on mass violence and international conflict.

César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, Professor of Law, University of Denver

César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández is a professor of law at the University of Denver and author, most recently, of Migrating to Prison: America’s Obsession with Locking Up Immigrants. He has published opinion articles in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and The Guardian, among others. A Fulbright Scholar Award recipient, he is also of counsel at García & García Attorneys at Law, PLLC.


Max Pensky, Co-Director, Institute for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention, Binghamton University