Posted: 3/13/12

TAMIU CJ Students Present
Research at NYC Conference

TAMIU Students
TAMIU Students NYC-bound
Members of the Texas A&M International University Criminal Justice Association who will present their research projects are: (front row, left to right) Christine Aguilar, Laura Sánchez, Stephanie Luna, Sabrina Hernández; (middle row, left to right) Aarón Medina, Janelle Castillo, Ezequiel Vega; (back row) Diana Gutíerrez, Rosario Benavides, Dr. Claudia E. San Miguel, Dolores Lozano, Elsa Tenorio. Not pictured, Ana Aguilera.

While some students work on their suntans and relax during spring break, 12 Texas A&M International University students will present original research at the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences Conference in New York City Wednesday, March 14 – Sunday, March 18.

The students are all members of the TAMIU Criminal Justice Association.

“Because students are required to present research, it has helped them to conduct original research of various contemporary topics in the field of criminal justice,” explained Dr. Claudia San Miguel, assistant professor and director, TAMIU College of Arts and Sciences Criminal Justice Program.

Students apply knowledge of research methods to conduct the study and analyze the findings. They are also able to apply knowledge from classes they have taken when they look at policy implications of their results.

“It’s not only a great experience, but a tremendous honor for the entire group to have the opportunity to represent TAMIU and attend this national conference,” said Dolores Lozano, TAMIU (B.S., criminal justice, 2011).

The group is comprised of three teams with each team presenting its own original research.

Lozano, team leader, and the rest of the team, Rosario Benavides, Diana Gutíerrez and Elsa Tenorio—all undergraduate students—will present “Attitudes Toward the Death Penalty.” The research examines attitudes toward the death penalty among Hispanic students of primarily Mexican decent and whether socio-demographic factors such as age, sex and level of education are correlated with support for the death penalty.

The other two groups will present research on immigration policies and human smuggling.

The team presenting “Collegiate Attitude Towards Immigration” is made up of Sabrina Hernández, graduate student; Laura Sánchez, undergraduate student; Christine Aguilar, undergraduate student; Stephanie Luna, undergraduate student; and Aarón Medina, graduate student.

The objective of their study was to determine if current TAMIU students believe current immigration policies are effective and if more stringent policies should be implemented and/or existing policies, such as current state laws, rescinded.

They surveyed college students to see if their views on immigration were affected by the proximity of the University to the Mexican border.

The third team, Ana Aguilera, Ezequiel Vega and Janelle Castillo—all undergraduate students—examined human smuggling along the South Texas border.

Their work investigates the unintended consequences of immigration policies. This includes victims searching for alternative entry routes, which can lead to detrimental health consequences, including death. Other consequences include the increase in the use of a “coyote,” which has been linked to sexual assault and other repercussions.

The study further explores why human smuggling is prevalent at certain border crossings and implications for the justice system.
Lozano, who graduated in December 2011, said she committed to the endeavor when she was a senior and feels it is a privilege to represent the University.

The students have been planning for the trip since summer 2011 and organized several fund-raisers for the trip, including a bowl-a-thon.
The last time a group of TAMIU students presented at the Conference was in 2010.

“The trip is also important because the students are given an opportunity to interact with students, professors and professionals from across the country and tell them about TAMIU and the criminal justice program,” Dr. San Miguel mentioned.

“Presenting at this Conference will also help them practice their communication and presentation skills and it will give students a competitive edge upon graduation,” San Miguel said.

She praised her students and added, “I am very proud of them. It has been a long road in terms of fund-raising and organizing their research projects, but they have displayed tremendous discipline and will represent TAMIU well.”

For more information, contact San Miguel at or 326.2529 or visit offices in Dr. F. M. Canseco Hall, 302J.

University office hours are 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Friday.

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