Remembrance: Dr. Jorge A. Bustamante

Remembrance: Dr. Jorge A. Bustamante (1938-2021)

Jorge A. Bustamante was the Eugene Conley Professor of Sociology at the University Notre Dame and Research-Professor Emeritus at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte (COLEF) in Tijuana, Mexico. Dr. Bustamante founded COLEF in 1982 and served as president from its creation until January 1998. At COLEF, Dr. Bustamante was the chief designer of the Mexican Border Surveys on international migration (EMIF), from which the first scientific estimates on undocumented migration to the Mexican northern border were produced.

In numerous professional roles, Dr. Bustamante led international efforts to document migration and protect migrants, including at the United Nations (UN). In 1997, he was appointed to a new, five-member UN committee dedicated to studying the relationship between international migration and human rights worldwide. He was subsequently elected president of the committee. From 2005-2011, he served as UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants. He also served as chairman of the Border Environmental Cooperation Commission (BECC); Correspondent for Mexico to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD’s) Continuous Reporting System on Migration; advisor on immigration and population policies to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico; advisor to the director of the National Commission of Human Rights of Mexico; and honorary consul to the government of Japan.

Dr. Bustamante authored Migración Internacional y Derechos Humanos, published by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) in 2003. He published more than 200 articles in scholarly journals of the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Venezuela, Spain, and Mexico. The majority are research reports on Mexican immigration to the United States, US-Mexico border phenomena, and US-Mexico relations. Dr. Bustamante was featured in major US newspapers and TV programs, including Nightline, 60 Minutes, and PBS Newshour.

Dr. Bustamante received many awards, including the Premio Nacional de Ciencias presented by President Miguel de la Madrid of Mexico in 1988; the National Award on Demography presented by President Carlos Salinas de Gortari in 1994; the Cox-Johnson-Frazier Award presented by the American Sociological Association in 2007; and the National Jurisprudence Award presented by the Mexican Bar Association in 2010. In recognition of his advocacy for the human and labor rights of immigrants, the Permanent Committee of the Legislative Power of México unanimously nominated Dr. Bustamante for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

“My father taught us – through his words, but mostly his lifelong example – that what is important is not what you are able to attain or acquire, but rather to commit – in his case to the human rights of migrants,” said Jorge A. Bustamante Fernández, Dr. Bustamante’s son. “We learned from him to be committed strongly to others in need and to oppose any distraction from it.”

Dr. Bustamante taught at the University of Texas at Austin, El Colegio de México, the University of California, Riverside, the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and the Institute of Political Sciences of Paris. He has been a member of the CMS Board of Trustees since 2016. Below, members of the CMS Board of Trustees and the wider CMS community remember and pay tribute to Dr. Bustamante.

“We all relied heavily on Dr. Bustamante’s immense body of work and even more so on his big heart. I particularly appreciated his service as the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants. At CMS, we were privileged to have Dr. Bustamante serve on our board for five years.  Despite his tremendous accomplishments and contributions to our field, he was always gracious, accessible, and good-humored. We would like to convey our condolences in particular to his close family members – Jorge Bustamante,  Mariana Bustamante, and Erendira Bustamante – and our thanks to them for sharing this good man with us over the years and contributing to his legacy.”

Donald Kerwin
Executive Director
Center for Migration Studies

“I was fortunate to work with Jorge in the 1980s, assessing the effects of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. He was a valued colleague and an inspiring mentor to many generations of demographers.”

Robert Warren
Senior Visiting Fellow
Center for Migration Studies

“Such a shame to lose one of the legends of migration studies. I had the good fortune to work closely with Jorge during the binational study of migration from Mexico to the US in the 1990s. He nurtured an entire generation of Mexican migration scholars. His loss will be felt around the world.”

Susan Martin
Donald G. Herzberg Professor Emeritus School of Foreign Service
Georgetown University
CMS Board of Trustees Member

“In my earliest years of graduate school, I remember the name of Jorge Bustamante as a professor whose name appeared in so many various scholarly articles.  It was a pleasure to serve with him on the board of the Center for Migration Studies.  Truly, I wish his family the consolation of knowing that Jorge was a man who contributed much to the field of migration and to his fellow human beings.

“May God give Jorge the grace of eternal rest.”

Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio
Bishop of Brooklyn
CMS Board of Trustees Member

“The University of Notre Dame was extremely honored to have had Professor Bustamante on its faculty for many years. As a faculty member in the Sociology Department and a Fellow of the University’s Kellogg Institute for International Studies, he made invaluable contributions to our understanding of the dynamics of migration and migration policy. His scholarship was informed by the experiences of the vulnerable and pointed to ways of making society more welcoming, inclusive, and generative. At the heart of his work was the recognition of the inherent dignity of each and every human being regardless of ethnicity, race, religion, or immigration status. He had a caring heart and a commanding intellect that together made him a powerful force for good. Professor Bustamante’s example will continue to inspire Notre Dame faculty, students, and staff for many years to come. His legacy will live on.”

Rev. Robert Dowd, C.S.C.
Assistant Provost for Internationalization
Associate Professor of Political Science
Kellogg Institute Faculty Fellow
University of Notre Dame

“I am so sad to hear of Jorge’s passing.  It was an honor to serve with him on the board of CMS.  He made such a contribution to the world and will long be remembered as the gentle, wise, and generous person that he was. May he rest in eternal peace.”

Joan Neal, M.A.
CMS Board of Trustees

If you would like to submit a remembrance for Dr. Jorge A. Bustamante, please email [email protected].