Construction work can be an American nightmare for immigrants

EL PASO — Finding the American dream has always been difficult for new immigrants, but for workers in the construction industry the struggle has been especially tough. Squalid living arrangements and torment from unscrupulous employers are just two of the struggles that they endure in order to establish a new life in this country. UTEP Sociology Professor Dr. Cristina Morales told an audience at the Center for Inter-American and Border Studies at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) that immigrant workers have to overcome serious obstacles to find and keep jobs in the very competitive and harsh construction industry. “The thought of what immigrant construction workers and their families have to live through never crosses anybody else’s mind. It is time for everyone to at least have a small glimpse of what really happens,” Morales said.

Tales of kindness, trust and courage give voice to civic pride in Juarez

EL PASO — A passer-by helping out an elderly woman transit a busy avenue, a young man treating a homeless man to lunch, and organizations assisting those in need, are some stories that are told everyday in Crónicas de Héroes. In a city where residents are used to hearing bad news from local media every day about the violence-torn city of Ciudad Juarez, a new project is bringing out untold stories of unsung heroes. Crónicas de Héroes, or Hero Chronicles, reports the stories of Juarenses helping fellow Juarenses in everyday life at, and these examples of human kindness are reported by the citizens themselves. As local media focuses on the unfortunate situation Juarez is suffering through, its residents now have a website where they may report any valiant, or noble act of kindness they may witness. “The campaign attempts to inject positive energy and change from the citizens, and finally recover the civic pride, give rise to optimism and bring back the spirit of courage that has characterized the inhabitants of this city,” said Yesica Guerra, Manager of Crónicas de Héroes.

Severe winter storm paralyzes the Sun City

EL PASO — The Sun City came to a complete standstill for a week when it was blind-sided by the worst winter storm in a decade, which cut off electricity and shut down the water systems.

The bitter wintry weather hit this high-desert city of nearly a million persons Feb. 1, a Tuesday night, as El Pasoans were going to bed. They woke up to three inches of snow in some areas of the city and temperatures well below freezing. What looked at first like a snow-day turned out to be a snow-week, leaving El Paso schools and businesses closed for several days. Freezing weather led to a voluntary curfew in the first few days of the wintry blast for safety reasons.

The Chalk the Block Art Festival decorates downtown El Paso

EL PASO, Texas — For the third consecutive year, the public art festival Chalk the Block, graced downtown El Paso with fun-filled street activities and treated thousands to the sight of sidewalks covered in art this past weekend. “It is a great way for the city to be exposed to so much art.  We don’t get many events like these, so the people should really take advantage,” said Elva Apodaca. “It really inspires me, and those who aren’t exposed to art to appreciate art and see what else is out there,” she said. The event, free to the public, was organized by the city’s Museums and Cultural Affairs Department joined by the El Paso Community Foundation. Chalk art is basically painting and drawing with chalk as media and sidewalks for canvas.

The Border Theatre invites El Paso to get into the play

EL PASO, Texas — A different kind of theatre group called The Border Theatre finally found its rightful place in the border city of El Paso, Texas and it intends to produce edgy original plays that will inspire community interaction. “The audience, in a lot of cases, is bored with the old stuff when there is a great myth that people want to see the same standards for the 50th time,” said Austin Savage, founder of The Border Theatre. Savage has a vision that audiences should not sit down and watch classics be played over and over, and at the same time watching a stage out in front of you with no interaction. “On-stage you should get something that you cannot get from any other medium,” he added, meaning that the audience should get more than just sit down and watch something play in front of them that they can regularly see on television or film. The Border Theatre recently held its first project, Exhibitions on Dis/Connection last month.

Juarenses cross the border to celebrate “16 de Septiembre”

EL PASO, Texas — Thousands, including many who crossed the border from Juarez, gathered to celebrate “16 de Septiembre” — 200 years of Mexican independence from Spain — at San Jacinto Plaza in downtown El Paso. Festivities here drew more people than usual because public events in Juarez were curtailed due to the current drug-related violence there. Juarez residents were asked to celebrate at home with a televised ceremony. Others opted to celebrate in El Paso at Mexican Consulate sponsored festivities. “We came to celebrate because we heard a big party was going to take place,” said Juarez high school student Diana Mojarro, 17.

Border students practice multimedia in Journalism in July workshop at UTEP

EL PASO, Texas – Journalism in July is a one-week summer workshop that brought high school students and future journalists from El Paso and Ciudad Juarez to the UTEP campus to learn how to be multimedia journalists. The workshop, which began July 9, and ended a week later, is in its eighth year and has evolved from a print media program into a multimedia program. In this transition, it has emulated what has happened in the real world of media where journalists had to develop multimedia skills to keep their work modern and more available to readers. A total of 21 students attended the workshop sponsored by UTEP and the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund. They came from the border region and included two students from Preparatoria El Chamizal in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.