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Realities of migration since the presidential election

February 24, 2017

While popular discourse about migration to the U.S. from Central America focuses on economic drivers and violence, there are false narratives that turn asylum seekers and refugees into criminals. What are the realities of those most affected by changes in immigration policy? And what has been the impact since the November 2016 election?

Join the Pick Museum of Anthropology at 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 1, in Cole Hall’s room 100 for a panel discussion by photojournalist James Rodriguez, Curators without Borders director Heidi McKinnon, NIU immigration attorney Anita Maddali and NIU alumna and activist Sara Briseño to delve deeper into the human stories depicted in photographs from the museum’s newest exhibition, “Push Factors.” Explore changing migration patterns, local immigration policy and activism since the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.

McKinnon is the curator of the Pick Museum’s newest exhibition, “Push Factors: Perspectives on Guatemalan Migration.” Curators Without Borders’ mission focuses on designing exhibitions, advocacy campaigns and cultural programming that utilize museum collections for humanitarian response internationally. McKinnon is working to develop pop-up exhibits in Somali refugee camps in Ethiopia by utilizing images from ethnographic and natural history museum collections to inspire language acquisition education.

Rodríguez, whose photographs are featured in “Push Factors,” is an award-winning documentary photographer whose work and presentation will focus on post-war processes, human rights abuses, land tenure issues and social conflicts caused by extractive industries in Guatemala and the region. His work has appeared in a number of journals and for organizations including International New York Times,, Huffington Post, Amnesty International and Oxfam America.

Maddali is an associate professor of law and the director of clinics at NIU’s College of Law and will lend her expertise on immigration law, specifically the intersection between immigration and family law, and clinical legal education. In 2014 Maddali was honored by the College of Law for creating a legal clinic focused on merging the medical and legal needs of homeless and low-income residents of Aurora. She represents women and unaccompanied minors fleeing persecution from Latin American, African and Middle Eastern countries and has litigated education, employment, and immigration cases in federal and state court for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Briseño is an activist and NIU and DREAM Action alumna who works to provide mental health care to the immigrant community in Chicago through a collaborative, community-based organization called Roots to Wellness. She will discuss her experiences with DACA and Dream Action and speak to the realities of NIU’s undocumented student body.

“Push Factors: Perspectives on Guatemalan Migration” will be on display until May. For more information, please call the Pick Museum at 815-753-2520 or visit