The American Friends Service Committee’s U.S. – Mexico Border Program serves to advance the human rights and self-determination of migrant and non-migrant communities in the greater San Diego area. Aware of the complex and delicate nature of the immigrant situation, Trewon’s bilingual evaluation team closely partnered with the AFSC staff on all aspects of the evaluation. This collaboration ensured that we remain sensitive to the border environment, its constraints, and cultural and social perspectives while conducting a scientifically rigorous study.

Defining the Process

In order to stay focused on the multiple aspects of the program and what it seeks to accomplish as well as how it is staying relevant, effective, efficient, and sustainable, we used the program’s four strategic objectives – base building, policy impact, alliance building, and documentation – to address the impact of the program on the narrative around undocumented immigrants, the immigrant and non-immigrant community, and the program’s partnership building and support. Because our team met with monolingual Spanish speakers as well as English speakers, Trewon developed and translated all consent forms and primary data collection instruments from English to Spanish. Local AFSC staff reviewed all translated documents to ensure local regional variations of immigrant population were captured appropriately.

Implementing the Study

We meticulously designed the focus group and interview instruments to reflect the knowledge and kind of interaction the different stakeholder groups had with the work and functioning of the U.S. – Mexico Border Program. Our staff conducted all the focus groups and interviews and digitally recorded, transcribed, and thematically analyzed them individually and across groups. Secondary data collection and analysis included but was not limited to review of five years of annual and interim reports, reports to funders, and months of media reports. Trewon extracted all quantitative data from the reports and input the information into Excel spreadsheets for analysis by selected indicators.

Presenting our Findings

Based on our multi-pronged analysis of primary and secondary data, our work showed that the AFSC human rights model effectively engaged and expanded the immigrant community’s involvement in humane immigration policy advocacy and that a strong and active relationship existed across the program’s four strategic objectives that served to support and build alliances and enhance sustainability. Our study provided data on the relevance of the program locally and nationally and offered recommendations to address challenges. Our work was detailed in a comprehensive report and presentation to senior leadership.