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March 30 PDAA Lunch Panel Assesses Southern Border and Immigration Challenges

Guarding illegal migrants

(U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

Updated, 31 March 2015. The Monday, March 30 PDAA luncheon program addressed immigration problems along our vast southern border and how to effectively communicate about them in a way consistent with American laws and values. According to some estimates, there are as many as 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. today, a more than 300% increase over the last 14 years, with most of the recent immigrants coming from our southern border.

The event — Welcoming the World, Securing the Southern Border: U.S. Immigration Issues and Public Diplomacy Challenges — featured three panelists: Peter Boogaard, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, Department of Homeland Security (DHS); Liza Davis, Director, Office of Press and Public Diplomacy, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Department of State; and Christopher Wilson, the Senior Associate at the Mexico Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

Christopher Wilson

Christopher Wilson

The expert panelists offered diverse national security, public diplomacy and public affairs, and think-tank perspectives on some of the many complex issues which affect border security, the flows of legal and illegal people and goods, and relations with neighbors like Mexico and Central American nations like Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua.

The subject of this PDAA event was unusually timely because of the ongoing debate about how to fix our broken immigration system. The topic was complicated because of the need for close inter-agency coordination and the intense U.S. and foreign media and public interest in a wide range of concerns surrounding immigration and the southern border — everything from humanitarian disasters and gun and drug smuggling to trade promotion and tourism.

Peter Boogaard

Peter Boogaard

Boogaard oversees strategic communications for DHS, the third largest agency in the federal government. Before being named Deputy Assistant Secretary, he served as press secretary and primary spokesman for DHS, overseeing all components. Prior to joining DHS, he served as Press Secretary for Congressman Jim Cooper of Tennessee, and he also worked in the MSNBC documentary division, where he assisted in the production and management of all non-live MSNBC programming.

Liza Davis and Greta Morris

Liza Davis (left) and PDAA president Amb. Greta Morris

Davis, a Senior Foreign Service Officer, has had public diplomacy postings to Managua, Nicaragua; Tijuana, Mexico; and London, U. K., and assignments in both USIA headquarters and the State Department in Washington.

Wilson leads the Wilson Center Mexico Institute’s research and programming on U.S.-Mexico border affairs and regional economic integration.  Coauthor of the “State of the Border Report” (Wilson Center, 2013), he has testified before the U.S. Congress and is regularly consulted by national and international media outlets regarding U.S.-Mexico relations.

Mike Anderson

Mike Anderson, PDAA program co-chair and moderator

This PDAA lunch program was held Monday, March 30 at DACOR-Bacon House, 1801 F Street NW, Washington, D.C. (Photos, A. Kotok)

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