Southwest Collaborative on Immigration, Inequality and Poverty (SCIIP)


What is the Collaborative?

SCIIP is a laboratory for sharing ideas and research projects done in and with the community, with projects falling under one of five divisions. Although “collaborative” is typically used as an adjective, we use it as a noun, known as the Collaborative. This term connotes sharing across different boundaries with a cooperative and collective spirit.  At the same time, members are engaged in their own research projects, leaving “ownership” to the creators.  Part of the Collaborative process includes planning projects that fall under the facilitation of the Collaborative.  The research projects include community members with an emphasis on strengths-based research.

The Collaborative is not a research center in the traditional sense, but a place for University and community researchers to discuss what needs to be investigated, and from there develop research projects.  The Collaborative provides faculty with a forum to present their ideas and foster research with the community.  The Collaborative also serves as a forum for community groups to bring their ideas and research needs to the attention of university-based researchers. 

 SCIIP Structure

The structure of the Collaborative reflects a blend of university-based research resources and community input.  The Collaborative is organized under the facilitation of the Consulting Board, which serves as the clearing-house and planning body for the Collaborative.  The Consulting Board membership is primarily composed of emerging scholars, new to the field but with significant experience in community-based work. Groups of affiliates, faculty, student and community participants, contribute to the efforts of the Collaborative and are part of the discussions and planning for future research projects.  Affiliates identify themselves with a particular division.  Faculty affiliates include experienced researchers and emerging scholars.  The experienced researchers, in addition to their scholarship contributions, serve as mentors for the emerging scholars.  Community affiliates include practitioners and key community members involved in hands-on work in the region.  Student affiliates include undergraduate and graduate students with committed interest to the division areas of research.  Other affiliates are not  involved in the direct planning, but act as key informants and help disseminate findings developed through the Collaborative.


SCIIP Research Priorities

Immigration and Culture

Concerns about immigration and obstacles faced by immigrants themselves are key problems facing our nation. Immigrants constitute 12% of the U.S. population, almost 38 million people. Over 40% of them are naturalized citizens.  An estimated one-third of immigrants in the U.S. are undocumented, about 4% of the total population. Immigration concerns are particularly important in the Southwest where the rates are higher. With immigration comes new generations of U.S. citizens who straddle cultures.  Immigrants are moving and settling all over the United States. The Southwest is a bellwether, and as such provides a deep view of the growth in immigration and the understanding of the transmission of culture.


Almost 40 million people in the United States live in poverty, an increase of several million over the past two years.  Among those who are the poorest in this country are children.  More than one out of five children live in poverty, and for children under the age of 6, the rate is even higher.  In many parts of the Southwest the population of youth is greater than the national average, making the well-being of children even more critical.  The economic downturn of recent years has intensified the use assistance programs, creating growing demands on the social service system.  The need to understand the complexities of poverty and the social inequities that result from income disparity is growing. 

Human Rights

The consequences of growing economic inequality and immigration raise concerns about the violation of human rights.  Arrests and racial profiling have increased with the growth in anti-immigrant sentiment.  The trafficking of human lives across the borders as well as the vulnerabilities that lacking legal status place people in, all contribute to growing economic and social inequality as well as community trauma. These trends lead to growing concerns about social justice, including the protection of all people’s rights, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, class, sexual orientation or identify, age, ability or other group membership. 

International/Global Concerns

The Southwest is home to residents who span the globe in countries of origin.  This area includes Border States, sharing hundreds of miles with Mexico. This link to global concerns is not unique to the Southwest, but is prevalent through out the United States.  To fully understand the social, economic and political trends of this nation, we need to analyze and comprehend those trends from an international perspective and examine the role the United States plays within our global community.

Social Empathy

Understanding social phenomena from an analytical perspective is important, but is not enough.  We need to explore the social, economic and political aspects of living in the United States with an understanding of the perspectives of others, from their lived experiences.  We are in need of developing social empathy, the ability to take action to address social problems and inequities based on empathic understanding.  To do this, we need to develop ways to identify and teach empathy.


These five divisions encompass the current priorities of SCIIP, and are examined annually to determine whether they remain the focus of our work.

Development of the Collaborative grew out of work done by the members of the Consulting Board through a grant funded by the Office of the Vice President for Global Engagement at Arizona State University.

For more information on SCIIP, contact Dr. David Becerra, at