“Why would we be attacking. . . people who we know exactly where they live, we have their fingerprints, we have their pictures, we know everything about them, they are interested in staying and contributing to US society, they can lose their status (actually, they can be deported if they commit crimes); why is that our focus? In my opinion, it’s our focus, because we are most threatened by someone who seems the most like us, but we perceive to be foreign. . .”

Dr. Deb Ortega &
Dr. Ashley Hanna

In the first of a two-part episode, our guests Dr. Deb Ortega and Dr. Ashley Hanna discuss all things DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). What is it, who are the people affected, and why does DACA find itself in the political crosshairs? Our guests conclude part one by describing why DACA is a concern for the social work profession and its practitioners.

Deb Ortega, PhD, is the founding director of the University of Denver Latino Center for Community Engagement and Scholarship (DULCCES), a consortium of interdisciplinary faculty dedicated to creating and advancing knowledge that gives voice to the history, politics, culture, and legacies of Latino communities. Dr. Ortega is an award-winning teacher who uses feminist pedagogy to teach courses on issues of social inequality at the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work. Her work focuses on the ways power and every day domination affects Latino communities. Dr. Ortega has authored and co-authored numerous editorials and journal articles focused on immigration, educational access for Latinos, and structural injustice. She is the past president of the Association of Latino Social Work Educators, the Co-Editor-in-Chief of Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work, and the Colorado FOCO representative for the National Association for Chicano/Chicana Studies. She is proud to have been a first generation Latina college student.


Ashley Hanna, PhD, is a tenure-track assistant professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Nevada, Reno. She is a licensed clinical social worker with more than ten years of practice and research experience. Her primary areas of expertise are behavioral and mental health, clinical social work practice, school-based interventions, racial and ethnic disparities, and the impact of immigration policies and practices on Latino individuals, families, and the community. Dr. Hanna has worked in home-based, outpatient, inpatient, school-based, and international practice settings. Dr. Hanna’s research is concentrated on structural inequities in the United States. She has investigated the unique experiences of Mexican immigrants living in Denver, Colorado, the impact of immigrant detention and deportation on the well-being of Latinos, and the impact of mixed-citizenship status on the emotional well-being of Latinos. Remaining focused on structural inequities, in addition to continued research in the area of immigration, her present research interests also include disproportionality and disparities in the education system related to discipline, academic success, and social-emotional well-being and effective practices to increase equitable outcomes.

Interviewer: Mary Keovisai, MSW

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