The Double-Edged Sword of Empathy: Two Migrant-Serving Organizations in South Texas

Miriam Sobre (1) , Emily Ehmer (2)
(1) Dept. of Communication, Main Building 2.248.6, College of Liberal and Fine Arts, 1 UTSA Circle, San Antonio, TX 78249 USA , United States
(2) Dept. of Communication, Main Building 2.248.6, College of Liberal and Fine Arts, 1 UTSA Circle, San Antonio, TX 78249 US , United States


While Texas has long led other US American states in number of refugees resettled, anti-migrant rhetoric globally and locally creates challenges for nonprofit organizations serving refugees and asylum seekers. This paper represents a portion of an ongoing project focusing on the needs and scope of two organizations serving migrants in San Antonio, Texas: a nonprofit focusing on legal and educational resources for migrants, and a liberal arts university’s campus coalition assisting migrants in South Texas. The project reported on here is ongoing. This paper only reports on the work with these organizations and the development and early stages of interventions to assist employees and volunteers in intercultural communication, community outreach, and post-secondary trauma.

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Miriam Sobre
Emily Ehmer
(Primary Contact)
Author Biographies

Miriam Sobre, Dept. of Communication, Main Building 2.248.6, College of Liberal and Fine Arts, 1 UTSA Circle, San Antonio, TX 78249 USA

Miriam Shoshana Sobre is a lecturer of communication at the University of Texas at San Antonio. She teaches classes on intercultural communication, research methods, language and culture, communication theory, and diversity. She has been working as a professor of intercultural communication for nine years, and has been studying intercultural communication for nineteen. She received her BA in English from the University of Puget Sound, her MA in language and culture from the University of Texas at Austin, and her PhD in intercultural communication from Arizona State University. She has written one other book, Cultivating Cosmopolitanism for Intercultural Communication, which won the Best Single Authored Book Award for the International and Intercultural Communication Division of the National Communication Association. She has published articles on intercultural communication, white privilege and intersectionality, language and culture, and intercultural communication pedagogy in journals such as The International Journal of Intercultural Relations, The Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, Intercultural Education, The Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, and Communication Theory.

Emily Ehmer, Dept. of Communication, Main Building 2.248.6, College of Liberal and Fine Arts, 1 UTSA Circle, San Antonio, TX 78249 US

Dr. Emily Ehmer grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and earned her BA in arts administration from Butler University, her MA in public relations from Ball State University, and her PhD in mass Communication from Indiana University. Prior to her graduate degrees, she had a career as a newspaper journalist and public-relations director for government and non-profit organizations. Dr. Ehmer's dissertation analyzed conflicting media portrayals of Burmese refugee populations. Her subsequent research continued to focus on the media's role in the framing of immigration issues and citizenship, and their intersection with gender and social movements. Dr. Ehmer served as associate professor with the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Texas State University in San Marcos until her death in 2019.

Sobre, M., & Ehmer, E. (2021). The Double-Edged Sword of Empathy: Two Migrant-Serving Organizations in South Texas. Journal of Intercultural Communication, 21(2), 17–33.

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