by René Kladzyk, El Paso Matters
Daniella Perez, a 22-year-old waitress and UTEP student, lost her job when restaurants closed in mid-March as COVID-19 began spreading through El Paso. “Honestly I’m still kind of in shock. I can’t believe this whole thing. I have been trying to look for more income, but I’m scared because I live with my Mom,” Perez said. This first wave of COVID-19 job losses led more than 50,000 people in the El Paso area to file unemployment claims between March 1 and May 1, according to data from Workforce Solutions Borderplex.
Kafka in a Skirt, Daniel Chacon’s most recent collection of short stories, opens with a bang that lights up a corner of the existential darkness, but only enough to make us wonder if indeed there is nothing, nada. “In the Closet,” one of the numerous flash fiction pieces in the book, gives us an adolescent protagonist who has been ordered by his mother to clean that “chingadera” out of his closet. He tells the reader that even though he got down on his knees to search his closet, he “didn’t know what [he] was looking for, but [he] somehow knew [he] would spend the rest of [his] life looking for it.”
I read somewhere that it’s often said that readers read to gain insight into others but that, in fact, readers read to gain insight into themselves. I suspect there is considerable truth to that. Have not many readers, at some time in their lives, feared that they will spend, or have already spent, most of their lives looking for an elusive and indefinable something?
WASHINGTON – The U.S. House passed a major trade deal on Thursday that will reset the economic relationships within North America. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement passed with a 385-41 vote and will now head to the Senate, which is expected to approve it next year. The deal will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, a 1994 agreement that dramatically changed the landscape of the Texas economy. While the three countries announced the agreement a year ago, the deal hit some turbulence in the Democratically-controlled House. Many Texas lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have urged its passage, due to the state’s reliance on cross-border commerce with Mexico.
DALLAS — During this year’s legislative session, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price was among scores of city leaders who actively opposed yet another series of attempts by state officials to limit how much money local governments collect. But with lawmakers determined to reform the local property tax process, she and other mayors had little luck fighting off what many city officials considered attacks on local control. By the time the Legislature adjourned in May, lawmakers had passed bills that limit how much property tax revenues local governments can collect without voter approval, prohibit the use of revenue-generating red-light cameras and eliminate some fees telecommunications companies pay to local entities. “We have actually worked on this for the last three or four sessions, but it really feels like it escalated this session,” Price told The Texas Tribune. “They don’t have a full grasp of cities, our spending and what we do.”
That’s left many local officials scrambling to calculate how much money cities will forgo in coming years as many city councils prepare their budgets for the next fiscal year.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has appointed UTEP doctoral student Daniel R. Dominguez to a one-year term as Student Regent on The University of Texas System Board of Regents. He is the first UTEP student appointed to this position. Dominguez, who expects to earn his Ed.D. in educational leadership and administration in 2023, is The University of Texas at El Paso’s director of accounting and financial reporting. His term as Student Regent began June 1, 2019, and expires May 31, 2020. He said he is excited to serve as the voice of the more than 235,000 students who attend the System’s 14 institutions.
By Abby Livingston and Patrick Svitek, The Texas Tribune
MIAMI — Home-state tensions flared between Democratic presidential candidates and native Texans Beto O’Rourke and Julián Castro at their party’s first presidential debate Wednesday night, with Castro saying O’Rourke has not done his “homework” on the issue of immigration. At issue were the inhumane conditions at detention centers for migrants — including Texas — and a photo published Tuesday of the bodies of Salvadoran father Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his daughter Valeria, both of whom died while trying to cross the Rio Grande to seek asylum in America. “Watching those images of Óscar and Valeria is heartbreaking, and should also piss us all off … and it should spur us to action,” Castro said, fielding the first question on immigration. Several other candidates addressed the matter, including U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, pledging to end Trump’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement policies.
By Sylvia Ulloa, New Mexico In Depth, New Mexico In Depth
The easiest number to understand in the just-released 2019 Annie E. Casey Kid’s Count report is that New Mexico ranks 50th overall in child well-being. That’s a stark ranking, the second year in a row New Mexico earned that distinction. For detractors and supporters of former governor Susana Martinez, there’s a lot to digest in the numbers released Monday because they track with nearly her entire tenure. The chart below shows the Kids Count rankings in several categories for 2012-2019, but most of the data comes from 2010-17 (Rankings go back to 1990, but a different methodology was used in those years, making direct comparison difficult). “It very much is a reflection of what happened, and more specifically, what didn’t happen during the Martinez years,” said James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, which monitors the indicators for New Mexico.
There are many perils for humans and wildlife crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, from the hazards of navigating challenging terrain to the trauma of being detained by law enforcement. As tensions rise with each newly erected section of border wall, the impact of hardline policies can be seen taking a toll on the mental, physical, and environmental health of the borderland. Rising waters threaten migrants crossing Rio Grande
Risks to migrants crossing into the U.S. near El Paso have increased with the annual release of Rio Grande water from upriver in New Mexico. The release replenishes the borderlands and allows its farmers to irrigate, but the surge of water and migrants is a potentially deadly combination. Migrants who bypass barriers at U.S. ports of entry to seek asylum by crossing the Rio Grande risk drowning in the high water of the borderland canals.
SUNLAND PARK, New Mexico – Just feet away from a large freeway-like sign declaring “Boundary of the United States of America,” children play in the Anapra neighborhood of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. But this is not exactly true; they gambol in a narrow strip of the United States that lies between the Mexican state of Chihuahua and the American border fence, perhaps a dozen feet of disused territory between the invisible international border and the steel slats that soar up to 26 feet high, forming a rust-colored dotted line across the continent. Happily for the youngsters, the designers of the United States’ border fence failed to take them into consideration. A shoeless pre-teen can easily scramble nearly to the top of the barrier here, and later ask $1 of American passersby who are amazed to see the fence so easily scaled. Bemused U.S. Border Patrol agents occasionally hand out granola bars or other treats to the little hands that reach north through the bars.
As U.S. border officials detain thousands of migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border every day, another group waits for the men, women and families who have often been walking for days: volunteers. In El Paso, where Border Patrol agents apprehended 136,922 migrants between October 2018 and May 2019, residents have responded to the influx of migrants with meals and shelter. But it’s been eight months since the latest surge of Central American migrants started. Volunteer coordinators have had to adapt their efforts to a timeline that has no end in sight. “The current volunteers are starting to get fatigued,” Christina Lamour, director of community impact for United Way of El Paso County, said.