Latin American and Puerto Rican Studies

¡Salud! Beyond Deficits and Paradoxes in Mexican Immigration and Health

Thank you to all of those who attended our conference on May 11. To join our maling list, drop an email to

The CUNY Mexican Studies Institute website is under construction. Check back in September for our website launch!


Media coverage of ¡Salud! Conference and launch of CUNY Institute of Mexican Studies:

New York Times

Daily News

Huffington Post

Riverdale Press

Bronx Times

ABC News, Tiempo (airing early June 2012).


May 11, 2012

8:45 AM to 5:00 PM

Lehman College/City University of New York

Faculty Dining Room

250 Bedford Park Blvd. West

Bronx, NY 10468-1589

Directions to Lehman College

While Mexican immigrants tend to experience difficulties accessing healthcare services and often experience many barriers to health including low rates of health insurance coverage and low income and educational levels, they paradoxically also enjoy better outcomes in many areas including perinatal health, diabetes, heart disease and more, a phenomenon known as the Immigrant Paradox. This conference explores the two-sided coin of the health disadvantages and advantages of the Mexican population, bringing in nationally recognized experts on Mexican immigration and health and showcasing CUNY-based expertise, as well. This conference will enable a dialogue between local and national scholars, as well as between academics, advocates and practitioners.

The conference will be streamed live over the internet and audio and video proceedings from this conference will be archived and made available. They will constitute the first holdings of an electronic archive of Mexican studies materials at the City University of New York. Conference proceedings may be published.

The conference will also serve as the academic launch event for the newly formed approved CUNY Institute for Mexican Studies.




Conference Presenters (in order of appearance):

Keynote Address: David Hayes-Bautista, UCLA

Dr. Hayes-Bautista is currently Professor of Medicine and Director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at the School of Medicine, UCLA. He graduated from UC Berkeley and completed his MA and Ph.D. in Medical Sociology at the University of California Medical Center, San Francisco. Dr. Hayes-Bautista's research focuses on the dynamics and processes of the health of the Latino population using both quantitative data sets and qualitative observations. The Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture combines these research interests with teaching of medical students, residents and practicing providers to manage the care of a Latino patient base effectively, efficiently and economically. His publications appear in Family Medicine, the American Journal of Public Health, Family Practice, Medical Care and Salud Pública de México.

Laird Bergad, Ph.D., Lehman College/CUNY and Graduate Center/CUNY is Distinguished Professor of Latin American and Caribbean history in the Department of Latin American and Puerto Rican Studies at Lehman College and the Ph.D. Program in History at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Professor Bergad is the founding director of the CUNY Center for Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies. His most recent book, co-authored with Prof. Herbert S. Klein, Professor of History and Director of Stanford University's Center for Latin American Studies, Hispanics in the United States: A Demographic, Social, and Economic History, 1980 – 2005, was published in October 2010.

Presenter: Lisa Sun-Hee Park, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies at the University of Minnesota. Her areas of research and teaching include migration, welfare and health policy, feminist social theory, and environmental justice. Most recently, she is the author of two books published by NYU Press (2011). The first, Entitled To Nothing: The Struggle for Immigrant Health Care in the Age of Welfare Reform, investigates the impact of federal welfare and immigration policies on Latina and Asian immigrant women’s health care access. The second project, The Slums of Aspen: Immigrants vs. the Environment in America’s Eden (co-authored with David N. Pellow) is a case study of how environmental initiatives utilize anti-immigrant, population control rhetoric to produce exclusive spaces of privilege within the global economy.

Presenter: Anahí Viladrich, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Sociology at Queens College/CUNY, is a sociologist and medical anthropologist originally from Argentina. She received her PhD with Distinction (2003), an MPhil in Sociomedical Sciences (Medical Anthropology) from Columbia University (2000), and an MA with honors from the New School University (1999). Before joining the Department of Sociology at Queens College, she was a tenured associate professor at Hunter College, where she directed the Immigration and Health Initiative. Currently Prof. Viladrich is also an Associate Professor at the CUNY doctoral program in public health. She has published extensively on immigration, culture and health and just finished a book manuscript on Argentine tango immigrants in the United States. She has been appointed to be the director of the upcoming Center on Immigration Studies at QC

Presenter: Seth Holmes, MD, Ph.D., is Martin Sisters Endowed Chair and Assistant Professor of Health and Social Behavior in the School of Public Health at the University of California Berkeley. Trained as a cultural and medical anthropologist and physician, his work focuses broadly on social hierarchies, health disparities and the ways in which perceptions of social difference naturalize and normalize these inequalities. His current book project (in press with the University of California Press and entitled Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: Indigenous Mexican Farmworkers in the United States) offers a critical ethnography of US-Mexico migration, the social structuring of health and sickness, and the perceptions and responses of medical professionals.

Presenter: Robert Smith, Ph.D., Baruch College/CUNY is a Professor of Sociology, Immigration Studies and Public Affairs at the School of Public Affairs at Baruch College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York. His work seeks to increase our understanding of contemporary migration, and to identify strategic sites of intervention for policy. He has worked in the Mexican community in New York and in Mexico (especially the state of Puebla) for more than twenty years. He is the author of Mexican New York: Transnational Worlds of New Immigrants (University of California Press, 2006), which won four awards from the American Sociological Association.

Discussant and Panelist: Marilyn Aguirre-Molina, Ed.D., MS, Lehman College/CUNY, founding Director of the CUNY Institute for Health Equity, is currently a Professor of Public Health within the City University of New York (Lehman College and the Graduate Center - MPH and PhD Programs) and the Deputy Executive Office of Health Sciences Doctoral Programs. She joined CUNY after several years as Professor of Population and Family Health at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University in New York City.

Presenter: Peter Guarnaccia, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Department of Human Ecology at the School of Environmental & Biological Sciences and Investigator at the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. His research interests include cross-cultural patterns of psychiatric disorders, cultural competence in mental health organizations, and processes of cultural and health change among immigrants. He is currently carrying out a study of immigrant students at Rutgers entitled “What Makes Acculturation Successful?” that is funded by NICHD. He was an investigator on Healthier New Brunswick 2010 and a co-leader of Transnational New Brunswick. He has also done transnational research on dietary change among Mexican immigrants from Oaxaca to New Brunswick. He currently directs one of the International Service Learning Programs on Community Health in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Presenter: Ramona Tenorio, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a doctoral candidate from the Department of Anthropology, researches transnational socio-medical networking, and healing practices among diasporic Latinos in the U.S. She is interested in understanding how socio-medical networks are formed, and maintained allowing for the transnational flow of personnel, equipment, and supplies to support lay healing traditions under the radar of the U.S. biomedical health care system.

Presenter: Luisa N. Borrell, DDS, Ph.D., Lehman College/CUNY, is a Professor at the Department of Health Sciences, Lehman College and the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Public Health, and the Chair of the Department of Health Sciences, CUNY. Her research interests are in race/ethnicity, socioeconomic position, and neighborhood effects as social determinants of health.

Presenter: Jennifer Burrell, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of anthropology at University at Albany SUNY, where she is also an associate of the Department of Latin American, Caribbean and US Latino Studies, the Center for the Elimination of Minority Health Disparities, and the Institute for Mesoamerican Studies. She works on issues of migration, transnationalism, violence and human rights in Mexico and Central America. Her book on postwar Guatemala (in press with University of Texas Press) is forthcoming in early 2013, and Central America in the New Millennium, a co-edited collection, will be published in October 2012 with Berghahn Press. More recently, Burrell has researched Mexican and Central American migration to the New York State capital region and healthcare access.

Discussant: Suzanne Oboler, Ph.D., John Jay College/CUNY, is Professor of Latin American and Latina/o Studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, at the City University of New York. She is FoundingEditor ofLatino Studies.Her currentresearchcenters on human rights with a specific focus on Latino/a immigrant incarceration,and on race, immigration, citizenship and belonging in the Americas.She is the author ofEthnicLabels, LatinoLives: Identity and the Politics of (Re)Presentation in the United Statesand of numerous articles and book chapters.She is editor ofLatinos andCitizenship: The Dilemma ofBelongingandBehind Bars: Latino/asand Prison in the United States, and co-editor ofNeitherEnemies nor Friends: Latinos, Blacks, Afro-Latinos. She is also co-editor inchief of the 4-volumeOxford Encyclopedia of Latino/as in the United Statesand ofthe forthcoming 2-volume,TheOxford Encyclopedia of Latinos and Latinas in Contemporary Politics, Law andSocialMovements. In the Spring of 2011, she was the FulbrightDistinguished Chair of American Studies in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Moderator: David Badillo, Ph.D. Lehman College/CUNY, Associate Professor in Latin American and Puerto Rican Studies, writes on U.S. Latino history. He has published Latinos and the New Immigrant Church (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006) as well as over than fifteen journal articles and chapters in edited volumes on themes encompassing religion, urbanization, and civil rights.

Panelist: Josana Tonda Salcedo, Ventanillas de Salud (Consulate of Mexico in New York) LED, Ventanillas de Salud (Consulate of Mexico in New York) has a degree in law from the Law Faculty at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM). She has worked at the Consulate General of Mexico in New York since 2003 and was designated in 2006 by the Institute for Mexicans Abroad (IME) from the Secretary of Foreign Affairs (SRE), National Coordinator for Ventanillas de Salud (“Health Windows”), a program with 8 sites. She has been working to promote the development of an on-site assistance outreach program that promotes health education and connects Hispanic/Mexican immigrants families with health services. The program has currently 50 sites in 50 Mexican Consulates.

Panelist: Haydee Morales, Vice President, Education and Training and Margaret Sanger Center International, Planned Parenthood of New York City,joined the staff of PPNYC in 2003 bringing over 20 years experience in grassroots, local, national and international health education including reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, advocacy, and cultural awareness/diversity initiatives. Haydee Morales is a veteran of community-based programming and management having worked in organizations such as the Committee for Hispanic Children and Families and the Hispanic AIDS Forum. She leveraged this experience as founder and Executive Director of Casa Atabex Aché, a community based women’s health action organization based in the South Bronx. Ms. Morales led the development of two policy briefs titledA Reproductive Health Agenda for Women of ColorandIn the Eye of the Storm: a Latina Women's Health Action Agenda.

Panelist: Dr. Francesca Gany, M.D. is the founder and Director of the Center for Immigrant Health and Cancer Disparities at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, founder and former Director of the NYU School of Medicine Center for Immigrant Health and CORE Center (Cancer Outreach Outcomes and Research for Equity), and concentration leader of Health Promotion, Disease Prevention, and Human Migration in the NYU Global Masters of Public Health program. She has served as the Principal Investigator on a number of pioneering immigrant health studies in the areas of cancer, language access and cultural competence, technology and immigrant health, health care access, and cardiovascular disease. Dr. Gany has been a pioneer in the areas of linguistic and cultural responsiveness in health care. She developed a medical interpreting research lab to build the knowledge base on linguistically competent research and care, and helped to develop the groundbreaking remote simultaneous medical interpreting system.

Panelist: Maria Corsaro, CNM, MPH, Assistant Professor of Clinical Nursing, Nurse Midwifery Program, Columbia University and midwife, Hudson River Health Care, Peekskill, NY. Maria Corsaro is an assistant professor of clinical nursing at Columbia University and teaches in the midwifery program. She also has been a practicing midwife for over twenty years and currently practices full scope midwifery at Hudson River Healthcare, a community health center in Peekskill, New York where a large majority of the patients are immigrants from Central and South America. She recieved her MS in midwiferyand her MPH from Columbia and expects to receive her doctorate in nursing practice (DNP) from Columbiain the Spring of 2013. Her interests includehealth careethics and the health challenges of immigrant Hispanic women.

Panelist: Dr. Debra Pelto, MPH, Ph.D., The Bronx Health Link, is a health researcher and medical anthropologist (PhD Sociomedical Sciences (Anthropology), Columbia University 2012; MPH Sociomedical Sciences, Columbia University 1995). Her dissertation, "Intimate Negotiations: The Political Economy of Gender, Sex and Family among Mexican Immigrants in New York City," examines family size ideologies and family planning negotiations among heterosexual Mexican couples in Queens and their access to and utilization of health care, situated in the political economy of transnational labor migration. She is the Program Evaluator of the Bronx Infant Mortality Reduction Initiative for The Bronx Health Link, an organization which works to promote health equity and social justice in the Bronx.

Conference organizer: Alyshia Gálvez, Ph.D., acting director of the the CUNY Mexican Studies Institute, is a cultural anthropologist whose work focuses on the efforts by Mexican immigrants in New York City to achieve the rights of citizenship. She joined the Department of Latin American and Puerto Rican Studies at Lehman College/CUNY in the Fall of 2007, as an Assistant Professor. Her book Guadalupe in New York: Devotion and the Struggle for Citizenship Rights among Mexican Immigrants was released in December 2009 and her second book, Patient Citizens, Immigrant Mothers:Mexican Women, Public Prenatal Care and the Birth Weight Paradox, was released 2011. She is also the faculty advisor for the Lehman College D.R.E.A.M. Team.


Location: Lehman College Faculty Dining Room (Music Building, 1st floor)

Date: Friday, May 11, 2012

Time: 8:45 AM to 5:00 PM

Location: Faculty Dining Room, Music Building, Lehman College, City University of New York

8:45-9:00 AM Continental Breakfast

9:00-9:45 Welcome and academic launch of CUNY Mexican Studies Institute

President Ricardo Fernández, Lehman College

Hon. Jay Hershenson, Senior Vice Chancellor, City University of New York

Carlos Manuel Sada Solana, Consul General of Mexico (TBC)

Dr. Laird Bergad, Demographic Aspects of the Mexican-Origin Population of the New York City

Metropolitan Area, 1990 – 2010

9:45-10:30 AM Keynote Address: Dr. David Hayes-Bautista, UCLA

250 Years of Latino Health in California

10:30-10:45 Coffee Break

10:45 -12:30 Panel I: From Deficit Discourses to Culturally Responsive Systems


Lisa Sun-Hee Park, Criminalizing Health Care: Pregnant Immigrant Women and the Question of Public Charge

Anahí Viladrich, From Framing to Counter-framing Narratives: Unauthorized Immigrants and their Right to Health Care in the US

Seth Holmes, "Because They're Lower to the Ground" and Other Naturalizing Narratives

Robert Smith, Mexican immigrants and Seguro Popular

Moderator and discussant: Marilyn Aguirre-Molina

12:30-1:30 Lunch

1:30-3:00 Panel II: Beyond the Paradox: Health for a new millennium


Peter Guarnaccia, We Eat Meat Everyday: Ecology and Economy of Dietary Change among Oaxacan Migrants from Mexico to New Jersey

Ramona Tenorio, Seeking Health Care in the Urban Shadows: Latino Lay Healing Practices in Milwaukee

Luisa N. Borrell, Revisiting the Hispanic Paradox on All-Cause Mortality: One Size Does Not Fit All

Jennifer Burrell, Rethinking the Mixed Status Family: MexicanMigrants and Health Care Access in Upstate New York

Moderator and discussant: Suzanne Oboler

3:00-3:55 Round Table moderated by David Badillo with Health Advocates and and Practitioners:

Josana Tonda Salcedo, Ventanillas de Salud (Consulate of Mexico in New York)

Haydee Morales, Planned Parenthood of NY

Dr. Francesca Gany, Center for Immigrant Health & Cancer Disparities, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Maria Corsaro, CNM, MPH, Columbia Nurse Midwifery Program

Dr. Debra Pelto, MPH, PhD, The Bronx Health Link

3:55-4:05 Coffee Break

4:05-5:00 Launch and Discussion: Is it Just a Matter of Descuido?: The Health Care Seeking Journey of Latino Men in New York City, by Ernesto Vasquez del Aguila and Marilyn Aguirre-Molina, a publication of the CUNY Institute for Health Equity.

5:00 Closing remarks

The Mexican Studies Institute of the City University of New York was approved by the CUNY Board of Trustees on February 27, 2012. Building on nearly a decade of work by the CUNY Working Task Force on Strengthening Educational Opportunities for Mexicans and Mexican Americans, this CUNY‐wide Institute housed at Lehman College seeks to take a comprehensive approach to the study of Mexico and Mexicans in the United States, combining interdisciplinary approaches to research and advocacy. The Institute would channel existing research efforts occurring across the CUNY‐system, offering a space for the incubation of future research projects, as well as foster their development and dissemination. With a special focus on Mexicans in the diaspora, especially Mexicans in New York, the Institute would offer a space for the Mexican community to consider its own and an institutional location for support of scholarly and community advocacy projects. Fundamental to the Institute’s foundation and success will be its ability to further new projects with community and cultural organizations, to channel projects already underway and to build on existing efforts within and outside of CUNY. For more information or to join the advisory board, email

Cosponsors: CUNY Working Task Force on Strengthening Educational Opportunities for the Mexican and Mexican-American Community, Office of the President of Lehman College, CUNY Mexican Studies Institute, CUNY Institute for Health Equity, Dept. of Latin American and Puerto Rican Studies, Mi Casa es Puebla.

Acknowledgements: Thanks are due to all of those who helped make today a reality, including Marlen Fernández, Karen Rojas, all of the student volunteers, Licia Fiol-Matta, Veronica Mason, Nika Lunn, Hector, Sonia Rodríguez, Noreen Crawford, Terence Cheng, Timothy Alborn, David and Guadalupe, José Magdaleno, Jerry Barnard, Migdio Domínguez, Brendan McGibney, Marge Rice, Mario Dellapina, Yvette Nevares, Jairo Guzmán, Laird Bergad, and Eduardo Peñaloza. ¡Muchas Gracias!



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Last modified: May 23, 2012