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.
Like most people, Ana and Eddie Gonzalez closely followed developments as COVID-19 swept across the globe. “I remember having discussions with my husband about how sad it was that people were going into the hospital and nobody could go and see them, and that people were dying alone,” said Ana, who works in a truancy prevention initiative for El Paso Independent School District. They took precautions to protect their family from the novel coronavirus.”Every time we went to a store, we always wore a mask, even before the order came in. We were even wearing gloves. I had sanitizer in my purse.
El Paso – Churches across El Paso have had to adapt and become creative during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing prayer assistance on the phone, food drives and online religious services. Mayor Dee Margo announced a “Stay Home, Work Safe” order on March 24th requiring residents to only venture out for essential tasks including grocery shopping, a medical emergency and caring for family. “You know we always say in the Catholic faith that the church isn’t the building but the church is all of us together. We are all the church and if we can’t come together, we can’t come together as church,” said Fernie Ceniceros, the Public Information communications director for the Catholic Diocese of El Paso. “We wanted to make it clear to our people that that just because we’ve suspended or we’ve not allowed people to come to the public celebration of Mass – like most other diocese’s in the country – we wanted people to know that we we are celebrating Mass that’s something that’s that we felt was very critical” Ceniceros said.
The sounds of off-road vehicles grinding through the desert in east El Paso County are mostly just a memory now. The sprawling dunes area known as Red Sands is closed and Sheriff’s patrols are turning off-road enthusiasts away to limit the potential for public contact over coronavirus concerns. But, before the closure, the sounds of 4x4s filled Red Sands day and night as groups of vehicles roamed the rugged terrain, climbing over dunes and sometimes getting stuck in the soft sands. That’s when the Texas Rescue Patrol might come to the rescue. The Texas Rescue Patrol is a group of volunteers who are part of the off-roading community who respond to calls for help and try to do whatever they can for stranded vehicles or accident cases, especially in the hard-to-reach areas of the desert.
When El Paso ordered residents to stay home in March amid the coronavirus outbreak I was upset that I had to cancel my trip to Mexico City. It took me a while to take the pandemic seriously. I was still willing to travel, but thankfully my flight got canceled. Now, weeks later, my mindset is different. I now get that this is something serious.
RUIDOSO, NM — In this town where tourism is one of the biggest sectors of its economy, not having visitors can become a real problem. Ruidoso has experienced a huge drop in tourism because of COVID-19 concerns beginning with spring break, one of the village’s busiest times of year after the winter season. We actually haven’t been seeing a lot of tourism at all,” said Juan Sosa, a sales clerk at clothing store Parts Unknown in mid-March. That’s when the casinos, racetrack and ski resort saw a drop off in visitors before they closed down completely. “It’s affected the town as far as tourism quite a lot,” Sosa said.
Many Americans may find bare grocery store shelves the most worrying sign of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their food system. But, for the most part, shortages of shelf-stable items like pasta, canned beans and peanut butter are temporary because the U.S. continues to produce enough food to meet demand – even if it sometimes takes a day or two to catch up. To keep up that pace, the food system depends on several million seasonal agricultural workers, many of whom are undocumented immigrants from Mexico and other countries. These laborers pick grapes in California, tend dairy cows in Wisconsin and rake blueberries in Maine. As a sociologist who studies agricultural issues, including farm labor, I believe that these workers face particular risks during the current pandemic that, if unaddressed, threaten keeping those grocery store shelves well stocked.
SAMALAYUCA, MEXICO — Residents of this small farming town in northern Mexico petitioning authorities to stop a copper mine from opening have managed to temporarily halt the project. They started protesting last August after the Canadian mining corporation VVC Exploration announced plans to open the mine ‘La Gloria’ in the Samalayuca desert. A district judge on March 5th ordered the suspension of the mining project for at least five months, according to a report from El Diario de Juarez newspaper. But opponents know the fight is far from over in Samalayuca, a small agricultural town in Chihuahua about 35 miles south of El Paso-Ciudad Juarez border. Residents and environmental activists protesting the mine are supported through various organizations including Frente Eco-Social Paso del Norte, Frente Ciudadano Contra la Mina, and Para Que No Nos Mine la Mina.
The Trejo family has been careful about handwashing and using hand-sanitizer to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, but when it came time to part ways near the Paso del Norte international bridge, they hugged each other. “As we were hugging, I thought, ‘Oh no, we should have given each other a little elbow tap,’” said Blanca Trejo, the 65-year-old grandmother and matriarch of the family. Her 15-year-old granddaughter Ruby Lerma Trejo said she tried not to hug too tightly but said of keeping her distance with family, “oh that’s hard.” Her grandmother, aunt and young cousins were headed back to Ciudad Juárez. She and her mother and sisters were going back to Horizon City. The Trejo family said goodbye after a recent visit as part of the family headed to Horizon City and the rest stayed in Ciudad Juárez.
By Eliza Willis, Grinnell College and Janet A. Seiz, Grinnell College
Joe Biden won Florida’s 2020 Democratic primary, capturing a majority of the state’s Latino voters. Polls have been tracking the Latino vote in Democratic presidential primaries, and many analysts are trying to predict which candidate Latinos might favor in November. Interest in Florida has been especially strong. Observers commonly speak of “the Latino vote” as if Latinos make up a distinct and unified interest group. This both overstates and understates Latinos’ uniqueness.
EL PASO – Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders fired up a nearly full Abraham Chavez theater Saturday while also heading to victory in the Nevada caucuses, hitting all the high notes and exciting his fans. Vowing to “end the hatred,” Sanders promised to change current immigration policy and no longer “snatch a baby from her mother” if people are crossing illegally and end ICE raids. The highly supportive crowd of nearly 2,500 cheered. Sanders has been critical of Trump’s policies and rhetoric, which he’s repeatedly referred to as racist and xenophobic. Before attending the rally, Sanders visited the memorial for the Aug.
Farmers markets in El Paso provide not only local produce, arts and entertainment, they also bring entrepreneurial opportunities. Mother and daughter, Mary Maskill and Arianna Romero, operate Pretty in Lemon, a lemonade stand that can be seen at nearly every farmer and artist market location. “I’ve always wanted to open a business. It’s been a dream of mine to open my own business. It’s awesome to be your own boss,” said Romero, whose parents helped her open the lemonade and simple syrup stand.Maskill shares her daughter’s space with her own business called Pretty in Paper.
A motivation program for children and teens called Real Talk that features conversations with felons and individuals convicted of crimes recently launched in El Paso. The project goal is to steer borderland children and teens away from dangerous lifestyles by getting them to engage in honest and open conversations with former convicts about the dangers of drug abuse, gang life, and crime. “The ultimate goal is to try and save as many kids as we can,” said Real Talk founder Sheree D. Corniel who launched the first project in Las Vegas in 2013. Corniel, who has 20 years of experience working in law enforcement as a U.S. probation officer and juvenile parole officer, said she hopes to launch additional branches of Real Talk at cities across the U.S. El Paso is the second Real Talk location. Even before the program’s official launch next month, Julian Morales, whose hard work and perseverance helped bring the non-profit program to the Sun City, and other Real Talk presenters have visited local middle and high schools to promote the program to students and parents.
Pursuing a college education comes with many struggles, from exams and homework to figuring out how to pay for four years or more of tuition, fees, books, room and board or commuting expenses. Last summer, the University of Texas at El Paso announced it would be offering some Texas residents who attend UTEP tuition-free college starting Fall 2020. The Paydirt Promise allows a Texas resident whose family income is less than $40,000 a year to attend college without having to pay tuition. According to the U.S. Census Bureau the median income for an El Paso family is $44,431. Along with the income requirement, a student must also complete their college education in five years.
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.
Bringing a franchise restaurant to a new city may seem easy compared to opening a business from scratch. However, being a franchisee comes with its own set of challenges. “Some franchisees don’t realize how hard it is to get started and how hard it is to make it successful. It takes time and it takes a lot of work,” says Kirk Robison, chairman and chief executive officer of Pizza Properties Inc., which owns and operates 46 Peter Piper Franchises in Texas and two in Las Cruces. In September the company bought 10 El Paso Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar locations.
As competition for talented high school athletes increases, social media is having a bigger impact in helping prospects stand out with college recruiters. Athletes often put together their top films in one video that they make themselves and post them on social media. For others, their families pay marketing businesses to manage digital promotion efforts. “I think it works for the kids who don’t know how to promote themselves through social media or whose families don’t know how to use social media”, says Margie Cortez, a parent and coach. Another option is going the old school way and pay for recruiting services that can be very pricey.
Stalking and burglary were the most prevalent crimes on the University of Texas at El Paso campus during the past year, but showed a slight decrease from previous years, according to a recently released crime report. The report – the Annual Security and Fire Safety report and released by the UTEP Police Department on Oct. 1 – showed 12 cases of burglary. That compares to 12 reports of burglary in 2017 and 27 in 2016. The report also showed and 13 cases of stalking in 2018.
It was the end of the Vietnam War and many soldiers were on their way back home. Many were coming back with the after effects of war – PTSD, depression and physical disabilities – to a country that didn’t yet understand how to address such things. Spec. Rafael Hernando III said he was advised not to wear his uniform as he returned home to El Paso, but he refused to do so. He thought about how much it meant for him to serve, and the price he paid for it with the loss of his legs from a landmine.
The El Paso port of entry ranks among the busiest in the nation – second to only the San Diego/Tijuana port of entry – with inbound crossings into the United States. In 2018, 12.4 million personal vehicles carrying more than 22 million passengers crossed over into the United States using the El Paso port of entry. The El Paso – Ciudad Juarez port of entry has seen an increase of trade crossings every year for the past 10 years. In 2018 the port of entry was responsible for $81.9 billion crossing. That amount is 103% more than the $40.5 billion it was responsible for in 2000, according to recent statistics.
How long would you last if you didn’t have easy access to food, water and electricity? Retired Marine Alfred Legler knows many city dwellers aren’t prepared for when a disaster may strike. That’s why he began teaching classes to help El Pasoans learn basic survival skills. “A lot of people have never been out of the city. They don’t know how to hunt, they don’t know how to fish, they can’t look down on the ground and identify what kind of plant is edible, what kind of plant might have some medicinal use.
In turnaround financial victory for student athletes, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) announced Tuesday that college athletes will be allowed to profit from their name, image and likeness following a unanimous vote by the NCAA board.
The shock and sorrow felt after the Aug. 3 attack on Borderland residents at an El Paso Walmart continues to resonate throughout the community more than a month after 22 people were killed in the mass shooting. Near the site of the tragedy, an impromptu memorial of flowers, crosses and posters attracts a stream of visitors daily. Words of support are still being sent by people from around the world to try to offer some comfort. Borderzine has heard from a number of journalism professors who visited El Paso as part of the Dow Jones Multimedia Training Academy annual summer program that has been running for 10 years at UT El Paso. They wanted to share their own words to the community that made them feel welcome as they worked on stories about life here.
The El Paso Police Department received first call about an active shooter at the Walmart near Cielo Vista Mall at 10:39 a.m. Within six minutes, first responders from around the city arrived on scene. Later, the police would determine there were no shots fired at the mall and the attack was only at the Walmart. Soon after learning of the shooting, former congressman Beto O’Rourke announced he was suspending his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination to return to his hometown of El Paso. The El Paso Fire Department shares a tweet confirming that the family reunification center for families looking for their loved ones is at MacArthur Middle School near Cielo Vista Mall.
At 2:10 p.m. Saturday, President Donald Trump tweeted about the shooting.
The recent shooting attack in which a young white man is accused of killing 22 people in a Walmart in El Paso fits a new trend among perpetrators of far-right violence: They want the world to know why they did it.
People often find it amazing that at 45 years old, Robin Crociata, a mother
of five, is as fit as a 20-year-old. Several times a week she leads students who
are spread out on purple, blue, and grey mats as they reach for their toes and lift
their chins up to the sky. “I feel that the one thing yoga does do is it gives somebody that inner
strength,” said Crociata, a yoga instructor and owner of Aloha Yoga and
Wellness Studio on the far west side of El Paso. She came to El Paso nine years ago from Hawaii, after graduating with a
psychology degree from Chaminade University in Honolulu, and has been
teaching yoga for five years. ”Make sure you’re going to a teacher that actually is certified,” Crociata
El Paso has substantially less than the doctors it needs for a city its size, limiting patient’s choices for specialists and lengthening waiting times for patients as doctors are accepting jobs in higher-paying markets, two medical professionals said. “El Paso has 128 physicians per 100,000 per capita.” said Dr. Luis Urrea, an orthopedic surgeon. “The state level is 184 doctors per 100,000 per capita. That gives you an idea on how far we’re behind. The national is 208.”
The United States is expected to be short 122,000 physicians by 2013, according to a recent study.
Heat waves can be deadly, especially when they combine high temperatures with elevated humidity levels that make the air feel even hotter. The impacts can be especially strong in cities, which often are several degrees warmer than nearby rural areas due to the urban heat island effect. These three articles from The Conversation’s archives describe steps that communities can take to adapt as climate change makes heat waves more frequent and intense. 1. Offer many cooling options
Emergency cooling centers are one way to mitigate the effects of heat waves, but cities need to do more.
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.