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Expert alert: Immigration

State Sen. Charlie Janssen of Fremont has introduced a bill in the Nebraska Legislature reminiscent of one passed last year in Arizona, requiring police officers to question the immigration status of those they suspect are in the country illegally. It would also require non-U.S. citizens to carry documents showing their legal status, or face a misdemeanor charge.

Debate on the bill is expected to be animated, both at the statehouse and throughout Nebraska. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has a number of faculty members whose work and expertise relevant to the ongoing public discussion on immigration. For our colleagues in the media who may be looking for perspective on the issues surrounding this topic, what follows is a roundup of UNL faculty, their specific expertise and interests, and their contact information:

Miguel A. Carranza, professor of sociology and ethnic studies and director of the Latino Research Initiative. His research interests include the integration of Mexicano/Latino immigrants into communities in the northern Great Plains region and understanding quality of life issues, including educational experiences. He helped establish the Midwest Consortium for Latino Research, a partnership of ten Midwestern universities focused on Latino research issues, and the Latino Research Initiative, a university-community collaborative effort at UNL that’s focused on addressing the needs of Nebraska’s Latino population. (402) 472-3080 or

Anna Shavers, Cline Williams Professor of Citizenship Law. Shavers’ expertise is in immigration law, administrative law, gender issues and civil procedure. She is faculty co-adviser to the Multi-Cultural Legal Society and the Black Allied Law Students Association. She is a board member of the Midwestern People of Color Legal Scholarship Conference Inc.; liaison for the American Bar Association Administrative Law Section to the ABA Commission on Immigration; and publication chair of the ABA Administrative Law Section. (402) 472-2194 or

Miguel Ceballos, assistant professor of sociology and ethnic studies. Ceballos’ research investigates the relationship of the immigration process to the health and well-being of Latino/as in the United States and explores the changing attitudes toward Latino/a immigration and immigrants. Currently he is working on two research projects: one that studies the effects of the acculturative process on Latino maternal and infant health in the Midwest and the other examines the attitudes toward immigration in Nebraska. (402) 472-3421 or

Kevin Ruser, M.S. Hevelone Professor of Law; director of clinical programs at the College of Law. Ruser teaches in UNL’s Civil Clinic and Immigration Clinic.  Since 1989, he and his students have represented low-income clients in immigration matters.  He also is a frequent presenter on immigration issues and has published several immigration practice manuals, the most recent of which is “The Nebraska Criminal Law Practitioner’s Guide to Representing Non-Citizens in State Court Proceedings” (2010). (402) 472-3271 or

Hendrik (Hank) van den Berg, professor of economics. Van den Berg’s expertise is in international trade, finance and development, with a focus on Central and South America. He is the author of “The Economics of Immigration: Theory and Policy,” which covers the economic theory of immigration, explaining why people move across borders and details the consequences of such movements for the source and destination economies. (402) 202-6997 or

Sergio Wals, assistant professor of political science and ethnic studies. His expertise is in the politics of immigration. He has extensively researched how immigrants’ prior political experiences affect their political assimilation, attitudes and behaviors once in the United States. Wals originally is from Mexico City. He first arrived in the United States as an international graduate student in August 2004. He was granted permanent resident status in August 2010. (402) 472-5704 or

James Garza, associate professor of history and ethnic studies. Garza is a specialist on 19th century Mexico and the historical impact of Mexican immigration to the rural Midwest. He has taught several courses on Latin American, Mexican, and Mexican-American history. Garza earned his Ph.D. from Texas Christian University and joined the Department of History and the Institute for Ethnic Studies in fall 2001. He is a native of Laredo, Texas. (402) 472-3256 or

Amelia Montes, associate professor of English and ethnic studies; Director of UNL’s Institute for Ethnic Studies. Amelia María de la Luz Montes is in her third year as director of UNL’s Institute for Ethnic Studies, an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary unit with three programs: African American and African Studies, Latino and Latin American Studies and Native American Studies. She also teaches 19th century and contemporary American literatures and is a scholar of feminist, Chicana and Latina theory and cultural studies. (402) 472-8291 or

Ariana Vigil, assistant professor of English and ethnic studies. Vigil’s areas of expertise include U.S. Latina/o literature, Latina/o studies, and women’s and gender studies. She is particularly interested in the intersection of art and activism as they relate to transamerican and transnational identities and expressions. Her work is firmly interdisciplinary, moving between literary, ethnic, and feminist studies and encompassing narrative, film and visual art. (402) 472-1836 or

If you have any questions about this list, contact Steve Smith, University Communications, or 402.472.4226.

One Response to “Expert alert: Immigration”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Steve Smith, Jean Jones. Jean Jones said: RT @RedCladLoon: Looking for experts on the issue of immigration? #UNL has them: [...]