Gonzalez-Murphy has become a ‘go to’ person on Mexican immigration policy

Rockefeller Graduate Gonzalez-Murphy has become a ‘go to’ person on Mexican immigration policy.

Laura Gonzalez-Murphy, Rockefeller College graduate & postdoctoral fellow, is getting attention and making an impact in policy circles for her research and expertise in the area of immigration and emigration in Mexico. Her 2009 dissertation, “Change and Continuity in Mexico’s Immigration Policy: How Civil Society Organizations Influence the Policy Process,” traces the complex evolution of Mexican immigration history and policy. Dr. Gonzalez-Murphy considers the topic extremely timely, having the potential for not only moving migration policy forward in Mexico, but also for influencing further development of United States-Mexican immigration policy and policies governing the hugely challenging politics of global migration.

In her dissertation, Gonzalez-Murphy presents an important finding: civil society organizations within Mexico, in particular the Catholic Church, Sin Fronteras (Without Borders), and Casas del Migrante (Migrant House), are becoming more deeply and successfully engaged in immigration policy advocacy and are influencing dialogue leading to legislative reform. They are daring to drive the discussion, a noteworthy change against the backdrop of Mexico’s struggles with cronyism and corruption and its recent transition to a more democratic form of governing. Gonzalez-Murphy based her examination of Mexico’s migration experience on analysis of historical documents and interviews she conducted with key government officials and individuals working within civil society organizations. She credits her colleague and mentor, Rockefeller College Associate Professor Rey Koslowski, an expert on global migration and security issues, not only with helping her shape the direction of her doctoral study, but also with facilitating her access to key players in the system. Dr. Gonzalez-Murphy

Dr. Gonzalez-Murphy

Her personal connections to Mexico also facilitated and informed her research. Dr. Gonzalez-Murphy grew up in Oaxaca, Mexico. Her father was Mexican and her mother American. Through her mother’s experience, she saw the everyday challenges immigrants face. Her status as a dual national, her mastery of the language, and having family living there, eased Dr. Gonzalez-Murphy’s way as she conducted her research in Mexico.

As a result of her academic work and reputation, Gonzalez-Murphy has been invited to take part in discussions sponsored by the Mexican government on changes in immigration policy and legislation. In October, she participated in a debate forum in Mexico City titled “Toward a Migration Law,” hosted by the Mexican government and Sin Fronteras. The forum brought together Mexican migration officials, legislators, representatives of civil society, and academics to make recommendations for new migration law. Gonzalez-Murphy, the only academic from outside Mexico to be invited, gave a presentation emphasizing the importance of achieving congruence between Mexico’s laws and its demands of the US regarding treatment of Mexican emigrants, and the need to focus on the implementation process once the law is passed. She sensed a genuine excitement among the attendees and recalls, “Sitting with them, I realized everyone felt gratitude for the attention paid to this effort. There was a feeling of something happening democratically. It was exciting to see.”

She also presented on the Global Migration Project, directed by Koslowski, which analyzes the economic, political, and security aspects of international migration and short-term international travel and contributes to a clearer understanding of existing international cooperation on migration and the potential for global mobility regime formation (rules governing the movement of people across international borders).

Dr. Gonzalez-Murphy also was invited to the University of Monterey’s (Mexico) November 2009 conference “Aspects of Migratory Flows in North America.” Her reputation grows, as Koslowski notes, “With the completion of her dissertation on civil society and immigration policymaking in Mexico, Laura has become a ‘go to’ person on Mexican immigration policy not only within academic circles but also for the Mexican government.”

Laura Gonzalez-Murphy received her bachelor’s degree from Elmira College and, through Oxford University, completed an internship in Parliament and worked for the Organization of American States. She then came to Albany and worked for Governor Mario Cuomo in the Office of Rural Affairs (ORA). She earned her master’s degree in urban planning and environmental studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. After a hiatus from academics, she came to Rockefeller College and, in 2009, completed her PhD, somehow balancing that ultimate scholarly challenge with the challenge of raising a family. She remembers, “Coming back to academia is quite difficult with children. The support I had, not just from my family, but from the professors at Rockefeller College, made me be able to finish.”