Immigrant dreamers find hope in Obama’s Deferred Action Plan

EL PASO – The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that there are more than 1.7 million undocumented students in our nation. This is the case of my friend Ana, a 26-year old political science college student. Ana and I grew up together in a small mostly Anglo town in Kansas. For the security of Ana the location and her full name will not be disclosed. I never noticed any differences between us; we both always embraced the American culture rather than our Mexican roots.

Carlo Mendo, co-founder of EPPG, explains the basics of permaculture to students of Somerset Charter School. (Josue Moreno/

Volunteers hope to transform urban blight into green gardens

EL PASO – A once destroyed alleyway covered in syringes and broken bottles in downtown El Paso was turned into a thriving garden by a group of volunteers brought together by the El Paso Permaculture Group (EPPG). “Permaculture is a way of life that helps everyone, and teaches you to respect the earth,” said Claudia Paolla, a volunteer with EPPG. “It teaches the children to learn about their food sources and to appreciate the environment.” EPPG invested staff time and money to set up the garden for nearby families and taught them how to tend the crops. Created about a year ago with the help of various activists and volunteers, EPPG continues to reach out to the community, creating gardens in local schools and unexpected places. Permaculture is a growing movement that examines the issues and problems brought up by the way human beings relate to the earth.

Reies Lopez Tijerina and José Ángel Gutiérrez at Mercado Mayapán celebrate 40 years of La Raza Unida. (Courtesy of Dennis Bixler- Marquez)

The Raza Unida Party returns to ‘la lucha,’ calling for Hispanic unity in the 2012 elections

EL PASO – La Raza Unida Party gathered here in the same city where its first convention took place 40 years ago calling for Hispanics to unify with renewed vigor at a time when their vote is of critical importance in the 2012 presidential elections. “The question is how we control our destiny,” said José Ángel Gutiérrez, 68, a founding member of the party, a lawyer and a longtime leading Chicano activist. The roots of the Raza Unida Party, created to organize and empower new generations of Hispanics, date to the late 1960’s when Hispanics students at Crystal City Texas High School were excluded from some of the extracurricular activities. The discrimination led to student protests and walkouts. Gutierrez soon found himself advising them.