American history is intertwined indivisibly with Mexicans who were absorbed after the territorial appropriation of northwestern Mexico at the end of the U.S.-Mexican War. That conflicts end ushered a troubled reality to those who remained to suffer the consequences of conquest. Since 1848 those who stayed and those who came since have developed a unique culture of Mexicanidad that has greatly influenced the identity of the southwest and of Arizona in particular.

The current political and cultural controversies that divide Arizona’s latino community from its political leadership are deeply rooted in its history; yet there is a profound need for historical context amongst students, activists and Latino’s. The struggle for immigration rights and dignity for all Latinos, for example, is often seen as unprecedented and ahistorical. In reality it is the latest iteration of a struggle as old as the absorption of the Mexican population in 1848.

Can A Border Divide Us: A History of Mexicanos, Chicanos, and Immigrants in the Southwest is a program created under the direction of Alfredo Gutierrez, The Raul Castro Institute at Phoenix College and Puente Human Rights Movement. It consists of a series of lectures and documentaries aimed at providing a broader historical perspective to students and activists and the general public. The primary sponsor is the Lacey Larkin Frontera Fund. It is free and open to the public.

Project Coordinators

Alfredo Gutierrez

Project Chair

Alfredo was the founder and editor of the Internet newspaper – La Frontera Times focused on the immigration experience in the United States.  Alfredo served as host of Arizona’s most listened to talk radio program in English or Spanish: “Escucha y Ponte Trucha con Alfredo Gutierrez” heard daily on Radio Campesina 88.3 FM in Phoenix.  He has been a force in Arizona politics and business for four decades.  Alfredo was first elected to the Arizona State Senate in 1972. He was elected Majority Leader by his peers in 1973 and served as his Party’s leader through the remainder of his tenure in 1986. In 1986 he founded Jamieson and Gutierrez Inc., which quickly became the state’s leading public relations and public policy firm with offices in Phoenix and Washington D.C. and clients throughout the United States. He sold the firm to his partners in 2001 and launched an unsuccessful campaign for Governor of the State of Arizona.

Alfredo was the recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Fellowship in its inaugural year. He was Arizona Chairman of the first Jimmy Carter Presidential Campaign for Arizona, founder of numerous significant community based organizations, Majority and Minority Leader of the Arizona Senate, and recipient of a State Department Fulbright teaching fellowship at Colegio de Mexico in Mexico City. Alfredo is the recipient of a Doctoral Degree, Honoris Causa, from Arizona State University.  Alfredo has written articles and political commentary for both the internet and print publications. He has completed his first book, “To Sin Against Hope”.  Verso Books is the publisher.

Trino Sandoval

Phoenix College

Trino Sandoval holds a Ph.D. in Spanish from Arizona State University. In 2010 he co-published the textbook Nuestro idioma, nuestra herencia (McGraw-Hill, 2010). During his tenure at Phoenix College he has held the posts of Department Chair for Foreign Languages, Associate Dean of Continuing Education and Community Service and Executive Assistant to the President. In January 2012 he was appointed to a two year term as Senior Policy Advisory on Education to Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. In addition, Dr. Sandoval has served as the advisor for student organizations such as Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (M.E.Ch.A.) and was the director of the Title V grant from the Department of Education to Hispanic Serving Institutions. Dr. Sandoval is also the founder of the award winning Teatro Bravo, a community based Latino Theater Company in Phoenix, Arizona where he also served as Executive Producer until 2012. In addition, since 2000 he has coordinated the Phoenix College Latino Film Festival.

Dr. Sandoval leads the Raul Castro Institute at Phoenix College.

Sandra Castro Solis

Program Director

Sandra Castro Solis is scholar activist currently based in Phoenix Arizona. Sandra has organized in the state of Arizona for the last six years and has implemented her activist work into her scholarly research. Sandra received her Masters in Human Rights Studies from the Institute for Human Rights Studies at Columbia University in New York. Sandra Castro Solis is a recipient of the Davis Putter Scholarship Fund and the Corazon del Pueblo Human Rights Award for her work in the immigrant rights movement. Sandra is currently an Adjunct Professor of United States History at Estrella Mountain Community College and South Mountain Community College.

Carlos Garcia

ED Puente Movement

Carlos Garcia is the Executive Director of the Puente Human Rights Movement in Phoenix Arizona. For over 10 years- Carlos has dedicated his life to end police and ICE collaboration, racial profiling, and racial repression in the state of Arizona. Carlos and his organization are avid supporters of the community learning project and hope to bring their immigrant membership base to attend and learn from the project.