Border Research Institute

A Trintonian article discussing the Border Research Institute featuring a photo of its director, Political Science Professor Guy Poitras. 

The Border Research Institute was a program directed by Political Science Professor Guy Poitras which lasted from 1978 to 1981. The main goal of the institute was to investigate the influences of Mexican immigrants on the U.S. economy, among other topics related to the U.S.-Mexico border. Prior to the institute’s creation, Dr.Poitras directed a conference titled “Immigration and the Mexican National”, which was later turned into the documentary “Aliens or Neighbors?” thanks to the institute. The organization itself was involved with mostly faculty such as history professor Dr. Linda B Hall and research associate Ronald A Grennes, although undergraduate student Byron Smith also worked on two projects for the organization. 

  • Films produced:
      • “Aliens or Neighbors?” (1979)
      • “Mariachi Mass” (1980)
      • “We’re Moving Up: The Hispanic Migration” (1980)  

    Overall, most of the research projects stemming from the institute had a negative albeit inquisitive perspective on Mexican migration to the U.S. Additionally, the organization, alongside the Border Studies Major was relatively short lived, possibly due to the inauguration of a new President of Trinity University. This is because, as desrcibed by Dr.Poitras, "A new university president arrived at about the same time the BRI was created. He did not favor its very existence and it was done away with." It is important to note that during the institute’s existence, President Jimmy Carter was in office, and arguments against his immigration policy proposals were very common in several projects conducted by the institute. Additionally, the Carter administration allowed for the BRI to present itself as 'presenting both sides' to the 'problem' of migration.

Watch Mariachi Mass here:

Ronald A Grennes was a research associate at the Border Research Institute as well as a professor at Trinity University. Grennes was a Latin American specialist focusing on the current trends and long term consequences of illegal migration from Mexico. He was also heavily involved with the production of "We're Moving Up: The Hispanic Migration" which was aired nationally by NBC in March of 1980. Additionally, this documentary also featured an interview with the President of Mexico at the time, Lopez Portillo. Grennes attended both the University of Americas in Mexico City and the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. 

A Trinitonian article discussing the Border Research Institute featuring a photo of its research associate Ronald A Grennes.

Border Research Institute