Strauss Center News

Updates from the Strauss Center and our affiliated distinguished scholars and fellows


Brumley Student Profile: Courtney Broderick Explores Mexico/U.S. Immigration & Security Policy

Oct 16, 2018 |

Courtney Broderick, PhD candidate in the Department of History, is a Brumley Next Generation Fellow at the Strauss Center. In this program, Courtney will work on a year-long research project with advisement from faculty mentor Stephanie Leutert, Director of our Mexico Security Initiative.

Courtney shares with us details on her research project (focusing on the interplay between Mexico & U.S. security/immigration policy, broadly speaking), experiences working in the Texas Legislature, & more in her Brumley Student Profile:

How do you think national security will change (or not change) in Mexico after the recent elections?

Clearly, the new Mexican President does not agree with or support President Trump’s family separation policy at the border nor does he agree with a border wall. As “AMLO” has stated many times, he plans on being respectful while working with President Trump, but ultimately, I believe he is going to stand up to Trump if he believes a policy or regulation will hurt the interests of the Mexican population. My best guess is that AMLO will work with Trump, to a certain extent, on curbing drug cartel violence, but they will likely disagree about migration policies.

What were your favorite experiences in your multiple roles in the Texas Legislature?

When I was in Senator Garcia’s office last legislative session, I worked on a bill to prohibit out-of-school suspensions for children below third grade. I was a part of that bill at every single phase—from drafting amendments to speaking with opponents and advocates, and finally being on the Senate floor when it passed out of the Senate. The House version ultimately passed out of both chambers and it became law last September. After it passed, I felt like I made my mark in the Texas law books and helped parents and young children while doing it. The days the bill passed out of the Senate, and Governor Abbott signed it into law, were some of my best days and proudest moments in the Legislature.

What would you like to achieve with your doctorate? Any certain issue or problem you’re looking at solving in your future career in public policy?

A History PhD is great preparation for a career in law or policy. I believe history and public policy go hand-in-hand, and in my opinion, I would not be a good policy researcher (or future policymaker) if I didn’t have the historical context or understanding of how the U.S. has overcome (and still needs to overcome) various social and cultural issues. I’m particularly concerned about immigrants and immigrant rights; restrictive immigration policies are nothing new in the United States, as studying history has shown me. I believe immigration is a human right issue and should be treated as such. I hope one day, perhaps as an elected official, I can bring about real substantive change, focusing on both the foreign policy and domestic issues that lead to immigration and protect human rights of migrants.

How far back can you remember being interested in history, and how did that lead to your current position as a History PhD candidate?

As early as 5th grade, all the way through high school, I had Social Studies and History teachers who made History fun. They were engaging and genuinely cared about their students. They made history exciting, and I’m still in touch with some of my former History teachers. I was even in a History club in 8th grade! But I actually entered college as an International Business major. I switched to History after my freshman year because I always made good grades in History in grade school. I knew I wanted to learn about other cultures, but I didn’t feel business was right for me at that particular time. When I was selected as a Ronald E. McNair Scholar in my undergraduate career, I realized I actually could conduct research and write a paper about my research. After that, applying to graduate school became a real priority. Luckily, I was selected into the History PhD program here at UT, and the rest is history…..

Tell us about your research project with the Brumley program, and what led you to this specific subject?

For the Brumley program, I’ll be researching the rise of zero-tolerance policies domestically, such as Operation Streamline, and then examining the Mexican response to these policies, focusing on the Bush era to present-day. Furthermore, I hope to study Mexican immigration and refugee policies passed in the last twenty years and I’ll examine how they correlated with or contradicted U.S. policies. When it comes to immigration, I have always been fascinated with how and why immigration policies shape economic, social, and diplomatic relationships between nations. I hope my research can contribute to showing the importance of immigration policy as an issue of both security and diplomacy.

What would you like to do with your research after the program is finished?

I’m hoping to incorporate this research into my master’s report, or dissertation, in some form. However, I’m also hoping to turn this into an academic publication. I have a personal goal of having my research published in both a History journal and a policy journal. Hopefully this project will help me get closer to that goal.

Thank you so much for sharing Courtney!