Juan Velasquez, 24, came to the U.S. when he was 14 years old and recently graduated from Georgetown University. He, along with fellow members of LCLAA, will participate in the Selma to Montgomery March this week. (Salvador Guerrero/SHFWire)

Latino group joins re-enactment of Selma to Montgomery March

WASHINGTON – Thousands of people gather in Alabama each year to re-enact the Selma to Montgomery March that took place 47 years ago. This year protesters will have not just a memory but a new cause as they march across the Edmund Pettis Bridge. Representatives from the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, Hispanic Federation, League of United Latin American Citizens and the National Council of La Raza held a rally here Wednesday to announce they would join the re-enactment of the civil rights march. They left after the rally for the 14-hour bus ride to Selma, Ala., to take part in the final two days of the Selma to Montgomery March re-enactment that started Sunday. The 1965 march for voting rights ended in violence when peaceful protesters were attacked by local law enforcement using tear gas and clubs.

Filmmaker Chris Weitz, left, and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas teamed up to create a video project about Alabama’s anti-immigration law called “Is This Alabama?” (Salvador Guerrero/SHFWire)

Chris Weitz movies shed light on Alabama immigration law

WASHINGTON – Half a century has gone by since citizens of Alabama marched to oppose harsh state and national laws that restricted the rights of black Americans. Now it seems as though the state has found itself entrenched in the same battle, this time however, at the heart of the matter are undocumented immigrants. Chris Weitz, the director of hit movies such as “American Pie” and “The Twilight Saga: New Moon,” teamed with Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, to put together a project, “Is This Alabama?”

Vargas, a former Washington Post reporter who revealed his undocumented status in a New York Times Magazine story last year, made the videos with Weitz. Vargas was sent to live in the U.S. as a child. He left journalism to become an advocate for immigration reform through Define American, which cosponsored the event Wednesday, March 14, with the Center for American Progress and America’s Voice.

Roderic Ai Camp, left, and Miguel E. Basáñez talk about Camp’s recent books about politics in Mexico. (Salvador Guerrero/SHFWire)

Mexico’s July presidential election may put PRI back in power

WASHINGTON – The United States isn’t the only country facing a contentious presidential election this year. Mexico will elect a new president in July, and some experts think the National Action Party (PAN) will be ousted from office by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which held power for 71 years before the PAN took over in 2000. Roderic Ai Camp, professor of the Pacific Rim at Claremont McKenna College, said Friday that two issues are likely to be important to voters: increasing family income and  reducing violence. He spoke at a forum sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars Mexico Institute and the Hispanic Division of the Library of Congress. “It will be interesting to see what PRI is really proposing that will be different from PAN on two major issues,” Camp said.

Students from Louisiana walk along the streets in Washington on Monday to protest the 39th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling that made abortion legal. Hundreds of thousands of people joined in the annual March for Life. (Salvador Guerrero/SHFWire)

Indiana youth group, thousands of others, protest Roe v. Wade in March for Life

WASHINGTON – For the members of the Diocese of Evansville, Ind., a trip to Washington should have been a simple 14-hour drive. A broken-down bus and 17 hours later, the trip turned into an excursion as they made their way to the capital for the annual March for Life. “It has been a year in the making. We’ve got about 89,000 Catholics in our diocese, and to bring about 350 youth, young adults and chaperons with us is huge,” co-coordinator Emily Snipes said. “We’ve had to learn a lot of patience and endure a few things, but it has made this pilgrimage more successful.”

This is the second year in a row Snipes, family life-diocesan respect-life coordinator for Evansville, and fellow coordinator Steve Dabrowski, director of youth and young adult ministry of Evansville, planned a trip to protest the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that  made abortion legal in the United States.

The Chicano Movement — alive and evolving

EL PASO, Texas — El Movimiento, also known as the Chicano Civil Rights Movement, was the empowerment of Mexican Americans in the 60s and 70s. Almost a half century later, Chicanos, Latinos and Hispanics continue to fight a struggle, but at times it does not have the same clout as it once did. “There were several arenas that took on a voice back in the late 60’s and early 70’s,” said Benjamín Sáenz, department chair for Creative Writing. “There was a literary movement that involved many writers, mostly poets…and then there was a purely political movement.”

Sáenz, a writer and professor at UTEP, said he was very much involved in the fight and highly political during those times. “We move forward all these years—after the civil rights movement and we talk about the Chicano Movement, but there is no movement per se.

Immigrants seeking a better life flatten fences all over the world

EL PASO — Americans have become accustomed to the startling images of desperate people climbing their way over chain link fences into the United States, a country they cannot access legally. But that same image of the plight of undocumented immigrants in a constant struggle to improve their lives also can be seen in other countries all over the world. Dr. Said Saddiki, an associate professor from the University of Fes Morocco and a Fulbright Program scholar at UTEP, is studying the flow of undocumented immigrants from Morocco to Spain. “Most people, and the mass media, use the term illegal immigrations,” said Saddiki. “The Border International official document, the official framework of the United Nations, avoids the term illegal immigrations because of its negative connotation.

UTEP helps students and faculty deal with tragedy

EL PASO, Texas — Last week tragedy struck the University of Texas at El Paso when students Eder Andres Diaz Sotero, 23, and Manuel Acosta Villalobos, 22, were gunned down in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Many alike have felt the effects of the violence unfolding in Juarez the past three years. But like many students, faculty members are significantly impacted by the violence across the border. While much can be said about the counseling efforts given to students dealing with tragedies faced daily in Juarez, little is known about the resources available for faculty to help combat the stresses their students have encountered. “There’s a group of offices that give the professors the support for them to work with students in the classroom,” said Catie McCorry-Andalis, UTEP assistant vice president for student life and associate dean of students.

Mario Obledo leaves a heartfelt legacy of victories for Latinos

EL PASO, Texas — Dr. Mario G. Obledo’s heart went out to those who had no voice. He fought for decades for the rights of Latinos through civil unrest and through the creation of powerful institutions. On August 18, his heart fought its last battle. The man known by many as the godfather of the Latino movement in the U.S. died at his home in Sacramento, California, of an apparent heart attack. He was 78.