1st Democratic presidential debate turns into Texas skirmish as San Antonio’s Julian Castro goes after El Paso’s Beto O’Rourke

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.

Beto O’Rourke launches official presidential bid from the U.S. border with pledge to unite a divided America

Declaring that “El Paso represents America at its very best,” Beto O’Rourke officially kicked off his presidential campaign Saturday morning before a cheering hometown crowd about six blocks from a bridge to Mexico. About 4,000 people filled a two-block corridor on El Paso Street to see former congressman O’Rourke in his first appearance back home since announcing his candidacy in a video on March 14. “This community has offered me my inspiration in life and every single opportunity that I’ve had,” he said. O’Rourke’s presidential bid is historical for the borderland. If he were to win, he would become the first U.S. president from a border city.

Trump supporters gather to protest O’Rourke presidential campaign kick-off

About 50 people gathered Saturday morning just blocks away from presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke’s three-city kickoff rally, protesting the Democratic candidate’s views on abortion, immigration, Middle East policy and other issues. Protesters – many of them carrying signs calling O’Rourke a communist and other derogatory terms – said they supported President Trump’s policies. Trump won less than 26 percent of the El Paso vote in his 2016 race against Democrat Hillary Clinton, the worst performance ever by a major party presidential candidate in the county. The counter-O’Rourke rally was in front of the Plaza Theatre and about two blocks north of the far-better attended O’Rourke rally. Some O’Rourke supporters passed in front of Trump supporters while en route to the candidate’s gathering until El Paso police closed off the roadway.

Out of towners attend rally in El Paso to learn more about Beto O’Rourke

Thousands of people – including at least one person who drove from Seattle – came to Downtown El Paso on Saturday morning to see presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke kickoff his presidential campaign. Kali Pratt 22, drove nearly 2,000 miles from Bellingham, Wash., where she’s attending Western Washington University, to attend O’Rourke’s rally. “I still need to study him more and his policies before I can say he has my vote, but from I’ve seen here, I like him,” Pratt said as O’Rourke gave his 30-minute speech. “I’m studying immigration and human rights, I came and drove all along the border region just to see how the situation was being handled,” she said. “It is clear to me that immigration reform is one of the most pressing issues, and how it’s being handled, also I’m an idealist 22-year-old, so in a perfect world I would love health care for all and for tuition to be lowered,” she said.

Young fans voice their support for Beto O’Rourke

By Valeria Olivares

Among the crowd of nearly 4,000, many young people joined the rally to support Beto O’Rourke as he launched his presidential campaign at El Paso, Texas. O’Rourke “has, overall, great views for young people and pretty much for everybody,” said 14-year-old Ethan James Rosenbaum from Phoenix, Ariz. O’Rourke is one of the 18 current candidates running for U.S. president for the 2020 term. He will be hosting two more rallies at Houston and Austin after his rally at El Paso on Saturday. Rosenbaum first heard about O’Rourke when he announced that he was running for president.

Trump greets cheering supporters at small rally in El Paso as thousands fill the streets nearby to protest his harsh border policies

President Donald Trump took his fight for a border wall to El Paso on Monday as a coalition of anti-wall protestors staged a competing rally at the same time not far from the County Coliseum where the president held his gathering. Trump took to the stage about 7:20 p.m, before an enthusiastic crowd in the 6,500 capacity coliseum, which was originally built for rodeos and livestock shows. The president was flanked by banners calling for “Finish the Wall.”

Photo gallery: Trump rally in El Paso February 2019
Photo gallery: March for Truth in El Paso February 2019

The competing March for Truth was organized by a coalition led by the Border Network for Human Rights, Women’s March El Paso and some 40 other community partners and included speeches by former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, and current congresswoman Veronica Escobar (D-El Paso). 
El Paso has been at the center of the controversy over a border wall as Trump has demanded Congress fund $5.7 billion to erect a wall, saying it is necessary to keep the United States safe from illegal immigration, which he has called a crisis. In his State of the Union address, Trump declared El Paso was a dangerous place before the wall, but El Paso officials dispute that depiction, saying the city has been one of the safest in the nation long before border fencing was installed. The government shut down for a record 35 days from Dec.

In El Paso, young Latinos are flexing their voting muscle

Voters under age 30 are playing an increasingly crucial role in El Paso County elections, a sign that younger Latinos are becoming more engaged in the political process in the Donald Trump era. Voters under age 30 accounted for almost 17 percent of El Paso voters in the 2018 midterm election, up from 8 percent in the 2014 midterm. Put another way, more than one in every six voters in El Paso this year was under age 30, compared to one in 13 in 2014. Related story:  Here’s what the young voter surge looked like at UT El Paso
The 2018 election featured an El Pasoan, Democratic Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke, at the top of a statewide ticket for the first time in Texas history. O’Rourke’s presence, combined with President Trump’s deep unpopularity among Latino voters, led to El Paso more than doubling its turnout between midterm elections, going from 82,000 in 2014 to 203,000 in 2018.

Young people, East Siders lead surge in El Paso voter registration numbers

A record 457,141 El Paso County residents are registered to vote for the Nov. 6 election, according to data from the County Elections Department. That’s up from 427,850 in the 2016 presidential election and 404,580 in 2014, the last midterm election. Click here to see mobile friendly version of map 
El Paso’s voter registration grew by 6.8 percent since 2016, faster than the state’s 4.6 percent growth rate. Preliminary figures from the Secretary of State’s Office show that only 18 of Texas’ 254 counties have had a higher percentage growth of registered voters than El Paso between 2016 and 2018.

More women encouraged to run for office in El Paso

EL PASO – Currently, 80 percent of lawmakers in the Texas Legislature are men, as well as 80 percent in the U.S. Congress. But that may change as movements for more women in politics grow. In El Paso, more than a dozen women turned out to a recent Candidate 101 forum hosted by Annie’s List—a statewide organization whose purpose is to get more progressive, pro-choice women to run for and win office. “I’m really encouraged that they would be willing to lend their gifts and talents to our community,” said former El Paso City Council representative and current EPISD trustee Susie Byrd. “I think it’s so important and so necessary that courageous people with a vision for our community step up to lead.”

El Paso voter turnout small, but strongly behind sending Veronica Escobar to Congress

Former El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar won a landslide victory in the March 6 Democratic primary for Texas’ 16thCongressional District. Escobar took more than 61 percent of the vote in a six-person race. Second-place finisher Dori Fenenbock, the former El Paso Independent School District board president, had 22 percent of the vote. “Words cannot describe how humbled and grateful I am. I am privileged to be your Democratic nominee, privileged to be your candidate,” Escobar wrote to supporters the day after the election.

Texas sanctuary cities bill worries border community leaders

EL PASO – Lawmakers from this border community are concerned about the harm that would result if Texas begins requiring law enforcement and other agencies to act as immigration agents. The Texas Senate on Feb. 9 passed SB4, which Sen. Jose Rodriguez, D-El Paso, called “a thinly disguised attack on immigrant communities.”

The so-called “anti-sanctuary cities” bill would allow the state to penalize cities over policies that obstruct enforcement of immigration law or discourage police agencies from inquiring about a person’s immigration status. The Texas House is now considering its version of the bill. The senator says he, along with other opponents of the bill, offered amendments to decrease the negative impacts the passage of bill would have on health, safety and social life of communities.

Representantes estatales expresan sus diferentes enmiendas de ley para beneficiar a El Paso, Texas

En un foro legislativo que se llevó a cabo en la Universidad de Texas en El Paso a fines de enero varios políticos estatales dieron a conocer sus posturas legislativas en torno a diferentes temas de inmigración que afectan la zona fronteriza, en específico una propuesta estatal que requiere que autoridades policiacas locales reporten al gobierno federal a personas indocumentadas que han sido detenidas. El foro, llamado “El Paso Times Live”, fue auspiciado por el periódico local, el cual atrajo mas de 200 personas, donde dichas autoridades contestaron preguntas de la audiencia en torno a la propuesta estatal y otros temas

Cesar Blanco, representante estatal por el el distrito 76, comentó que no está de acuerdo con la orden ejecutiva de inmigración firmada por President Donald Trump a solo dos semanas después de tomar el poder. Esta orden ejecutiva hubiera impedido la entrada a Estados Unidos a personas de siete países predominantes de la religion musulmana, haciendo así énfasis a que estos países son un peligro para la nación estadounidense. La orden no fue implementada después de que varias cortes federales la declararon anti constitucional. Trump ha indicado que la esta revisando y pronto presentará otra version.

El Paso Democrats’ victory party ends with chorus of ‘How did this happen?’

El PASO – On election night as Donald Trump claimed victory in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election and Hillary Clinton’s campaign drew to a close in defeat, I spent the evening with the El Paso County Democrats at their “victory” party. What started off as a hopeful event at the Camino Real hotel soon turned into a miserable affair. 6:40 p.m.: I arrive. There were already around 60 people gathered in the hotel’s grand Dome Bar. Drinks already flowing, the atmosphere was calm and relaxed.

Women, young voters drive record early voting in El Paso

Editor’s note: This article by Bob Moore was originally published in the El Paso Times Nov. 5. It is reprinted here with permission of the El Paso Times. Women and younger voters who did not vote in 2012 fueled El Paso’s record-shattering early voting turnout. An El Paso Times analysis of county election records shows that the number of voters under age 30 doubled from 2012, to almost 20,000.

UTEP students line up for record turnout in 1-day early voting on campus

More than 900 UTEP students, faculty, staff members, and residents of the El Paso community took advantage of early voting on Thursday at the Student Union on campus to cast their choice for president of the United States. Maggie Ortega, 57, a staff member who helped coordinate and organize UTEP’s early voting day, said she was surprised by the high turnout. City wide, early voting has broken previous voting records, according to local news reports. “This is the highest turnout that we’ve had in years,” said Ortega, who is services coordinator for the UTEP Student Government Association and worked with the El Paso County Elections Department to bring the mobile voting booth to the Student Union from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on October 27. The El Paso Department of Elections notifies UTEP staff in advance of the date they intend to set up the mobile voting booth, said Administrative Coordinator Maggie Ortega, who also helped organize the early voting day.

Road sign between Deming and Silver City reads: Benghazi - Fast and Furious, Obamacare - Solyndra Open Borders. Wake up America. Photo by Jack Price, Borderzine.com

In southern New Mexico, state House races are the big draws

Editor’s Note: Saturday, Oct. 8 marked the one-month countdown to Election Day. So New Mexico In Depth’s Sandra Fish decided to travel to Deming and Silver City with University of Texas El Paso exchange student Jack Price of Darlington, North East England. The two cities are each hosting key state House races, with incumbents retiring and political newcomers vying for the seats. These contests could be key to whether the House remains in Republican hands or goes back to Democratic control.

Border region early voting shows unprecedented interest in presidential race, possibly a result of ‘Trump effect,’ experts say

This year’s contentious presidential election will most surely be remembered as one that broke new ground on many fronts: first woman on the ballot, first business tycoon/political outsider to run for the oval office, first time hot button issues of immigration and free trade made it to the national debate stage.  After election day we’ll also know whether the race for the White House has produced a long-awaited milestone regarding the national Latino vote, which many believe to be a sleeping giant that will soon wake up to vote in large enough numbers to affect the outcome of a presidential election.  This remains to be seen.  Read and watch border region election coverage by UTEP and NMSU student reporters and online news site New Mexico In Depth here.  A question in the minds of many is whether Latinos will be motivated to cast ballots in greater numbers than before because of Republican Donald Trump’s anti immigrant rhetoric and hate speech against Mexicans, Latinos and others, and promises to stop illegal immigration by building a “beautiful wall” between the United States and Mexico. Mexico will have to pay for it, he has said.

Video: Early voting begins

Voters taking advantage of early voting in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, say they wanted to avoid the long lines on election day and were eager to cast their ballots for the “good of the whole community.” Early voting began Oct. 11 in New Mexico and runs through Nov. 5. In Texas it runs from Oct.

Latino voter registration lags other groups

On the last week of voter registration, Claudia Perea, a 45 year-old housewife from Las Cruces goes door-to-door in neighborhoods with the largest numbers of eligible Latinos who are not registered to vote. Armed with a pen, voter registration forms and a clipboard, Perea took to the streets of Las Cruces and El Paso to register Latinos to vote in the 2016 presidential election. Perea is part of a voter registration drive conducted by Hillary for Las Cruces’ organizing office. “I help to recruit people to register to vote and target the Latino community heavily. I go door-to-door or to churches, parks and neighborhoods to try to register as many Latinos to vote as possible by Oct.

El Paso, New Mexico Hispanic voters a big question mark in Election 2016

SUNLAND PARK – A couple of miles from Texas and less than a mile from Mexico, Carlos Juarez is serving the lunch crowd at the family business, Carlos Bakery/Panaderia. Signs for local candidates adorn the main business sign and the windows. The 28-year-old sees a definite difference in the 2016 presidential election compared with four years ago. “There’s no enthusiasm anymore,” Juarez said. “2012, from the Obama campaign, we had people coming out once or twice a week.

Filmmaker Galán honors Willie Velasquez’s Legacy in Latest PBS documentary in run up to Election 2016

Chicano filmmaker, Hector Galán documents the legacy of Willie Velasquez, the Mexican-American activist, who launched a grassroots movement that forever changed the political landscape in the United States in his Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) documentary, Willie Velasquez: Your Vote is Your Voice.” The film breaks cultural barriers highlighting the importance of the Latino vote and was recently presented at The University of Texas at El Paso’s Union Cinema and was accompanied by a voter registration effort to honor Velasquez’s legacy. A production of Galan Incorporated and Latino Public Broadcasting, “Willie Velasquez: Your Vote Is Your Voice,” showcases the life of the man who led the Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project and launched 1,000 voter registration drives in 200 cities. Velasquez paved the way for Latinos to have a voice in government and underscored the growing power of the Latino vote. Chicano independent filmmaker, Hector Galan directed the documentary shedding light on the Latino voting revolution.

Immigration debate boosts voter registration on U.S. border

EL PASO – This border city has seen an increase in nearly 50,000 eligible voters during this season’s contentious U.S. presidential campaign. Some political observers say the increase in local residents who have registered to vote in November’s election between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton may be a reaction to Trump’s harsh rhetoric on illegal immigration as well as negative statements he’s made in public about people of color. Trump has called for building an impenetrable border wall between the U.S. and Mexico and having Mexico pay for it. During one primary campaign speech, he referred to Mexican immigrants as “rapists.” “This is the first time time I will actually vote, so at 29 I actually had to learn what the registering process is,” said Jose Zubiate, an English major at UT El Paso.

Guns and showmanship – Seeing a Texas GOP debate watch party through the eyes of a study-abroad student

EL PASO, Texas – CNN reported that more than 80 million people tuned in to watch the Clinton-Trump debate on September 26, making it the most-watched presidential debate in history. It will also remain a day which will live long in my memory as my first real taste of a U.S. presidential debate watch. When I first arrived at the El Paso County Republican Party offices I was greeted with a man carrying a 12 gauge shotgun and a .44. Magnum marching Hilary Clinton around the offices. No, not the real Hillary, a masked version of the candidate.

Campus-carry opponents have their say at UTEP rally

EL PASO — With the cameras rolling from every news station in the city, journalism Professor David Smith-Soto and State Sen. Jose Rodriguez used a megaphone to make their case against allowing the concealed carry of guns on the UT El Paso campus. “From one thing the presence of a gun in a classroom destroys the classroom, the environment of the classroom, being able to have discussions, that type of thing, but the most important thing is we don’t know who is carrying this gun and through our campus, all the gun massacres that have occurred on campuses have been done with legal weapons,” Smith-Soto said. He and Rodriguez addressed a small crowd of protesters who gathered at Leech Grove at UTEP Oct. 19 to show their opposition to the newly approved Texas law that will allow concealed guns on campus starting in the fall of 2016,

“I think it’s great that the students at UTEP are coming together and are expressing themselves – that guns on campus promote more violence; expose more people to harm,” Rodriguez said. Many faculty and staff members said they came out sign a petition and show support the movement for repealing the law.

Candy makers call for cheap sugar fix on U.S. side of the border

By Rebecca Anzel, SHFWire.com

WASHINGTON – The U.S. candy industry has a problem. The sugar it needs to produce sweet treats is protected by the government through tariffs and trade restrictions, which drive up the price, industry officials say. This has forced some companies to move  production to places where sugar is cheaper, including Mexico or Brazil. Atkinson Candy Co. is one of those companies.

El Pasoans with Cuban roots skeptical about business opportunities as U.S. renews ties

Every Friday, Helio Gonzalez and his wife Sunny Sapien load their yellow food truck with homemade Cuban empanadas and ‘cafe Cubano’. They park on Remcon and Mesa in West El Paso. Their truck, emblazoned with a the sign, “Sunny’s Cuba Rican Empanadas,” does brisk business all weekend, especially during the lunch hour. Gonzalez, 28, a law enforcement officer in El Paso, was born in Miami of Cuban parents. As a child, he traveled to Cuba twice to visit his grandparents and extended family in the east side of Santiago.