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Speaker Biographies|Immigration Symposium

Speaker Biographies


U.S. Senator (retired) Alan K. Simpson (panelist)

Al SimpsonU.S. Senator from Wyoming who served in that capacity from 1979 to 1997 as a Republican.  From 1985 to 1995, Senator Simpson was the Republican whip, Assistant Republican Leader in the Senate.  He was chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee from 1981 to 1985 and again from 1995 to 1997.  He also chaired the Immigration and Refugee Subcommittee of Judiciary; the Nuclear Regulation Subcommittee; the Social Security Subcommittee and the Committee on Aging.  He co-authored what became the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) enacted by Congress on November 6, 1986, also known as the Simpson-Mazzoli Act, which reformed U.S. immigration law. 

After his U.S. Senate Career, Simpson taught at the Joan Shorenstein Center on Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government (1997 – 2000), and served for two years as the Director of the Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School.  In 2006, Simpson was one of ten member (five Democratic and five Republican) contributors to the Iraq Study Group Report.  In 2010, he was appointed by President Barack Obama to co-chair the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.  In 2012, he was included in the 50 Most Influential list of Bloomberg Markets magazine.

Today former Senator Simpson continues to influence public policy, particularly regarding the national debt, same-sex marriage, and social security.


Bertine Bahige (panelist)

BahigeMr. Bahige is a Campbell County (Gillette) high school math teacher from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he was kidnapped at the age of 13 to become a child soldier in ethnic warfare.  He escaped the rebel outpost, made his way to a Mozambique refugee camp, and was subsequently placed in the home of a Maryland couple.  In 2006, he was received a UW scholarship.  At UW, he met his future wife, a Gillette native, and, after graduation, the couple settled in Gillette.  Mr. Bahige became an American citizen in February 2012.  He has talked of his struggles to get out of the mindset of a refugee.  He is working with a Campbell County legislator to make Wyoming part of the U.S. refugee resettlement system.  A Washington Post story about Mr. Bahige can be found at:


Ramiro Martínez, Jr., Ph.D (panelist)

Ramiro Martinez Jr.Dr. Martínez, is a Professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Northeastern University.  He is a quantitative criminologist whose work contributes to violent crime research.  His work looks at homi­cide rates in some of the country’s largest Latino com­mu­ni­ties and the effect changes in immi­gra­tion pat­terns have on changes in crime in dif­ferent cities and com­mu­ni­ties across time and space.  This research, he says, has shown increases in immi­grant pop­u­la­tions do not lead to a rise in vio­lent crime in those com­mu­ni­ties, despite the impli­ca­tions of soci­etal stereotypes.  He publishes in sociology, criminology, criminal justice and ethnic studies journals.


Ed Muñoz, Ph.D (moderator)

MunozDr. Muňoz is the Director for Ethnic Studies and Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Utah.  He was formerly an associate professor with the Criminal Justice Department and director of Chicano Studies at the University of Wyoming.  Generally, his research expertise deals with the Latin@ experience in the Inter-Rocky Mountain and Midwestern United States.


Ruben Navarrette, Jr. (panelist)

NavarretteMr. Navarrette, Jr. is a member of the USA Today Board of Contributors, a nationally syndicated columnist with The Washington Post Writers Group, a regular commentator on NPR’s “Tell Me More with Michael Martin,” a weekly commentator for CNN.COM, and a frequent guest on national television and radio shows speaking on the topic of immigration.


Noah Novogrodsky (panelist)

NovogrodskyNoah Novogrodsky joined the University of Wyoming College of Law as an associate professor in the fall of 2009.  Professor Novogrodsky teaches International Human Rights, Immigration Law and Civil Procedure.  He holds a law degree from Yale and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Queens' College at Cambridge University, where he won the Daniel Vincent Prize for the best thesis on the Middle East.  After law school, he served as law clerk to the Honorable Nancy Gertner of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts; as a Robert L. Bernstein Fellow in International Human Rights in Asmara, Eritrea, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Cape Town, South Africa; as a litigation associate at the firm of Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk & Rabkin in San Francisco; and as the founding director of the International Human Rights Clinic at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law.  His scholarship is focused on the global HIV/AIDS pandemic and international criminal justice.


José Rivas (panelist)


Jose is a Mexican Native, raised in Gillette Wyoming. After receiving his degree at Gillette College, Jose transferred to the University of Wyoming to complete his Criminal Justice degree.  In addition, he is passionate for Latino/a Studies and promoting social justice, in particular contemporary immigration issues.



Jeremy Robbins (panelist)

RobbinsMr. Robbins was most recently a Policy Advisor and Special Counsel in the office of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  He is now Executive Director of the Partnership for a New American Economy, the bipartisan coalition of more than 500 business leaders and mayors making the case that smarter immigration laws will help our companies better compete and create American jobs.


Phil Roberts, Ph.D (panelist)

RobertsDr. Roberts is associate professor of history at the University of Wyoming, where he has been on the faculty since 1990.  His specializes in the history of Wyoming and the American West, legal, environmental and natural resources history.  He holds the Ph.D. degree in history from the University of Washington (1990) and a J.D. in law from the University of Wyoming (1977).



Lilia Soto, Ph.D (moderator)

Dr. SotoDr. Soto received her Ph.D. in Comparative Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Berkeley.  She completed her undergraduate degree at UC San Diego in Ethnic Studies and Latin American Studies.  Before coming to the University of Wyoming and joining the American Studies and Chicano Studies Programs, she was a University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles in the César E. Chávez Department of Chicana/o Studies.  She has also taught at UC Santa Barbara in the Feminist Studies Department.  Soto’s research and teaching interest is centered at the intersections of gender, age, time, and migration.


Dan Stein (panelist)

Dan SteinMr. Stein is the President of the Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR).  Prior to joining FAIR in 1982, Dan was executive director of the Immigration Reform Law Institute. His legal experience includes private practice and as congressional staff. He has testified more than 50 times before Congress.  He has appeared on TV and radio news/talk program in America and has contributed commentaries to a number of print media outlets.


Jose Antonio Vargas (speaker)

Jose VargasMr. Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who, in a June 2011 essay in The New York Times Sunday Magazine, revealed his status as an "undocumented immigrant" in order to promote dialogue about the immigration system in the U.S.  Vargas is the founder of "Define American," a non-profit organization intended to open up dialogue about the criteria people use to determine who is an American.


Alicia Schmidt Camacho, Ph.D (panelist pending confirmation)

Dr. Schmidt Camacho is the Sarai Ribicoff Professor of American Studies & Ethnicity, Race, & Migration in the American Studies Program at Yale University.  Professor Schmidt Camacho's scholarship concerns the femicide in Ciudad Juárez, transnational migration, border governance, and social movements in the Americas.  She is the author of Migrant Imaginaries: Latino Cultural Politics in the Mexico–U.S. Borderlands (NYU Press, 2008), and is currently at work on a second book project entitled, The Carceral Border: Social Violence and Governmentality on the Frontiers of Our America.  She serves on the board of Junta for Progressive Action, a community agency serving the Latina/o community of Fair Haven, Connecticut and is a contributor to local and transnational projects for immigrant and human rights.


U.S. Representative Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) (panelist pending confirmation)

Congressman Labrador is a Republican who has been the U.S. Representative for Idaho’s 1st congressional district since 2011.  He was born in Puerto Rico in 1967.  He received a B.A. in Spanish with an emphasis in Latin American literature from BYU in 1992 and later received a J.D.  He practiced law and immigration law in private practice from 1995 until his election to the Idaho House of Representatives in 2006.  Congressman Labrador was a member of the "Group of Eight," a bipartisan group of House members working on immigration reform legislation, but on June 5, 2013, he left the negotiations because he wanted language in the bill requiring that undocumented immigrants be responsible for their own health care costs.  Also in June 2013, he joined a majority of his Judiciary Committee colleagues in voting for the "SAFE Act" to bolster interior enforcement of immigration laws and in voting for the "AG Act" to improve the temporary agricultural guest worker program.  He serves on the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security.  Congressman Labrador has been featured on National Public RadioWashington TimesHuffington Post, and other media outlets as a speaker on the topic of immigration.

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