EL PASO — Mario Fernandez, 45, crossed the border illegally in search of opportunity and a better life, but he found himself here without rights or guidance and countless unanswered questions.
But now, a new publication is on their side.
Nuevos Paisanos magazine was launched in February to help inform and aid immigrants with useful information. As of now, Nuevos Paisanos is the first immigration-oriented publication in El Paso. The inspiration came from “The tens of thousands of nuevos paisanos – hence, the name of our publication – fleeing from the dangers and harsh living conditions present in Mexico,” said editor Priscilla Portillo.
Like Fernandez, many immigrants come to the United States looking for a job that will pay enough to feed their families. Others cross over to receive an education or to flee from danger. “I think El Paso needed a publication like this one, I learned a lot from it, and I liked that it was in Spanish too,” said Fernandez.
Whatever their goals, immigrants are kept from achieving their dreams because of their illegal status, which imposes severe limitations on their movement and their opportunities.
Portillo, who is a recent UTEP graduate also noted “My business partner and owner of Del Pueblo Press and I began Nuevos Paisanos with the invaluable contribution and support of our five-member editorial board: Dr. Gina Núñez-Mchiri, Gabriela Castaneda, Eduardo Beckett, Esq., Maria Victoria Moreno, and Dr. Sergio Saenz-Rivera.”
The editorial board members compose short articles in English and in Spanish that cover immigration related themes pertaining to men and women of all ages. “We have people who speak both languages in our city. Some parents may read in Spanish but their children are more likely to read in English. We have to respect the diversity in language use within our local immigrant community,” said Núñez.
Taking into consideration the mixed citizenship status of immigrant families, language preference is important to reaching a broader audience “We are a heterogeneous community with different levels of education. The information is not in technical terms and we write short pieces we can share with our general audience,” said Núñez.
David Haro, a local immigration lawyer said, “the magazine will help inform and teach immigrants what their rights are.” The expert advice will explain common misperceptions and will provide an understanding of our government and legal topics related to immigration issues.
For example, the inaugural printings of approximately 250 copies of Nuevos Paisanos had an article written by Sergio Saenz-Rivera that explained the difference between a passport and a green card, and a consulate and an embassy. Knowing the basic concepts that form our legal system will help people to seek the right help in the right places. Haro mentioned that because El Paso is composed of mostly a Hispanic population, anti-immigration laws have a great effect on regions like ours.
The article Domestic Violence and Immigration, discusses the challenges of immigrants in domestic violence cases. Patricia Bylicki, a victim services unit specialist for the El Paso County Sheriff’s office said, “There are programs that offer help and support. If a person lacks legal documents they are still eligible for help.” Crime and violence contribute to the severity of an immigrant’s complicated situation. Learning about the Violence Against Women Act may help domestic violence victims to seek their U.S. residency without having to rely on their abusers to do something about their case, according to the article.
Healthcare and educational opportunities for immigrants are also included in a Nuevos Paisanos resource guide. “We hope our resource list can provide someone with access to a health clinic, legal representation, or any other basic service available,” said Portillo. “The resource guide informs people on how to avoid being victimized and hopefully on how to have a better quality of life,” said Nùñez. Readers can contact Del Pueblo Press if they need additional information or if they wish to share their stories or current concerns.
The first issue of Nuevos Paisanos also included an article on midwife services currently available to expectant mothers, thus sharing maternity options that guarantee a healthy delivery for the mother and her baby. According to Núñez, mothers can benefit from learning about traditional and low cost health care options.
“Our goals are to print and distribute Nuevos Paisanos in large quantities throughout El Paso County,” Portillo said. The non-profit publication, which is distributed free of charge, faces the economic challenge of having to rely on donations from the community to publish and distribute the magazine. “We have faith in our project,” Nùñez said. “The community can benefit from having this new media that seeks to be proactive in providing timely and relevant information for its local immigrant community.”
Del Pueblo Press is located in downtown El Paso, and the inaugural issue is available at www.delpueblopress.com.