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Sociology professor dies at 82, leaving legacy of defending human rights and helping vulnerable

| Monday, April 19, 2021

Jorge A. Bustamante, Eugene P. and Helen Conley Professor Emeritus of Sociology who studied international migration and the U.S.-Mexico border, died March 25, according to an article published by the Notre Dame department of Arts and Letters. He was 82.

Bustamante was highly esteemed in his field. He received many awards and earned the respect of his contemporaries throughout his career.

Luis Ricardo Fraga, Institute for Latino Studies director and political science professor, said, “For more than 40 years, Jorge Bustamante was the major scholar and public intellectual helping us understand migration from Mexico to the U.S. and migration around the world.”

Among numerous other awards, Bustamante was nominated for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for his devotion to human and labor rights for immigrants.

In addition, he won the American Sociological Association’s Cox-Johnson-Frazier Award, the Premio Nacional de Ciencias and the National Jurisprudence Award from the Mexican Bar Association.

Bustamante also authored more than 200 scientific publications on migration between the U.S. and Mexico and international migration issues. Many major newspapers quoted him as an expert in the field, and many TV programs, including “Nightline” and “60 Minutes,” invited him to appear as a guest.

Gilberto Cardenas, another professor emeritus of sociology, said Bustamante’s work was pivotal within migration and immigration studies.

“Jorge’s contribution to migration and border studies has made a tremendous impact in the entire field of study since that time,” Cardenas said.

Prior to these accomplishments, Bustamante received his law degree from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico in 1959 and earned his doctorate degree in sociology and anthropology at Notre Dame. While at the University, he also served as a faculty fellow at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies and served as associate director of the Institute for Latino Studies.

Rev. Robert Dowd, Notre Dame’s assistant provost for internationalization, Kellogg faculty fellow and associate professor of political science praised Bustamante’s work.

“Professor Bustamante’s scholarship was informed by the experiences of the vulnerable and pointed to ways of making society more welcoming, inclusive, and generative,” Dowd said. “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.”

Dowd also spoke to Bustamante’s personal character, saying, “He had a caring heart and a commanding intellect that together made him a powerful force for good.”

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