Lawmakers call for more transparency in port-of-entry funding

WASHINGTON – Texas needs more funding for its ports of entry. So does Michigan. Lawmakers from both states berated federal officials Wednesday for failing to improve the ports and for not even having a current list of which ports are on a list for funding. “The lack of transparency is troubling, to put it kindly,” Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich., said during a House subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security hearing. “Customs and Border Patrol cannot continue to be a big black hole when it comes to ports of entry infrastructure needs, which can impact both trade facilitation and homeland security.”

Infrastructure needs at ports of entry often refers to CBP staffing, identification technology and roads.

One last round – Juarez boxing legend considers a last fight

EL PASO — With fading tattoos over his body and muscles giving way to extra body fat, the once middleweight underdog champion coaches young kids in a brand new downtown Juarez boxing gym arguing with himself whether he should fight one last time to say farewell to his longtime fans. “I don’t really care for being a champ or regaining fame,” said Juarez boxer Kirino Garcia. “What I need is a good offer to have a farewell fight.”

The prospect of getting back into shape after five years without stepping into the ring is challenging and expensive. The 46-year-old Kirino says he’s waiting for the right offer to resume his training regimen. The beloved underdog boxer grew up in the poorest colonias of Juarez and was able rise up to the top of his profession by acquiring a bunch of prestigious titles: Mexican light middleweight title, WBB light middleweight title, WBC International Light Middleweight title, and the Mexican Light Heavyweight title.

Rural schools struggle to roll out online Common Core tests

WASHINGTON – It’s a takeover of public education by the federal government. It’s not rigorous enough. It’s too rigorous. It’s not developmentally appropriate. It’ll require schools to collect data about students, including political and religious affiliations.

Birth of her son moves her to overcome learning delays from childhood meningitis

CIUDAD JUAREZ — Rocio Jiménez, 31, lives in colonia La Cuesta, one of the poorest sections of this city, in a small two-bedroom house with her husband and six-year-old son. Although she seems to have a normal life, Jiménez has suffered since childhood from disabilities caused by meningitis. The illness left her unable to learn to communicate clearly, but determined to improve her life, she finally learned to read and write when she turned 30. Jiménez never asked for help, but she was determined to overcome adversity, said her mother, Irma Rodriguez, who describes Jiménez as courageous and stubborn.  

Meningitis is an inflammation of the tissues that surround the brain or spinal cord.

José Antonio Vargas, el indocumentado más privilegiado

CHICAGO — José Antonio Vargas ha pasado la mayor parte de su vida escondido detrás de un secreto: Vivir indocumentado en los Estados Unidos. Cerca de 12 millones de personas en los EEUU comparten tal secreto bajo el miedo de la deportación. Pero Vargas, quien salió del clóset de los papeles falsos cuando publicó “Mi vida como un inmigrante indocumentado” en la revista del periódico New York Times del 22 de junio del 2011, continúa en este país sin haber seguido la suerte de los más de dos millones que han sido deportados, sólo durante el gobierno de Obama, por no tener documentos legales. Posteriormente, en junio del 2012, Vargas apareció en la portada de la revista Time, junto con otros 30 indocumentados bajo el titular: “Somos americanos, sólo no legalmente”. “Documentado” es la película que Vargas ha escrito, producido y dirigido que cubre la experiencia de su vida sin documentos desde que llegara a California de su natal Filipinas el 3 de agosto de 1993, cuando tenía 12 años.

Public policy a key to creating women leaders, panel says

WASHINGTON – Lajla Brandt Jakhelln has the life many women want, but struggle to have, in the United States. She’s the deputy chief of mission at the Norwegian embassy and  the mother of three, a good example of policies in place in Norway that allow both women and men to maintain leadership roles and cultivate a family. Those policies include subsidized day care, maternity and paternity leave and the ability to work part time until the youngest child turns 12. “It is indeed possible to combine empowerment, care and work,” Jakhelln said. “Each country has to find its own path.”
The U.S. encourages women to strive for leadership positions individually, a method called “leaning in” after a book written by Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer. to offer immigration reporting classes at IRE San Francisco

Four experienced immigration journalists will provide a series of training workshops on mining and visualizing data for effective immigration storytelling at the Investigative Reporters and Editors conference in San Francisco Saturday, June 27. The four workshops will teach journalists how to mine immigration data and research for compelling immigration stories and provide hands-on instruction on using open source software to create visualizations for data driven immigration reporting. The workshops will be held at the Marriot Marquis in San Francisco and led by veteran immigration journalist Lise Olsen of the Houston Chronicle, AP reporter Martha Mendoza and data expert Claudia Nuñez of Los Angeles. Borderzine Director Zita Arocha will provide an introduction to multimedia storytelling about immigration and how to use U.S. Census data to report on diversity within local communities. The conference also features additional workshops on immigration, human rights and U.S. demographics by journalists Alfredo Corchado, author of “Midnight in Mexico,” Bob Ortega, Cindy Carcamo, Ana Arana, Bernice Yeung, Vanessa Hua, and others.

Only 1.6 percent of Mexicans seeking political asylum are accepted by U.S. courts

EL PASO — Only 1.6 percent of Mexicans seeking political asylum in the United States have been approved in the last five years, while the national approval rate during this same time for all asylum requests was 49.4 percent. Approval rates for asylum cases vary by district and according to national statistics two of six immigration judges in El Paso have among the lowest asylum approval rates in the nation.  Judge William L. Abbott denied asylum requests to 80.1 percent of applicants and Judge Thomas C. Roepke’s denial rate is 96.3 percent. The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a nonpartisan center based at Syracuse University, tracks the enforcement activities of the federal government. TRAC analyzed the decisions of 273 immigration judges that have ruled in at least 100 political asylum cases in the last five years.

Mass graves of immigrants found in Falfurrias

By Mark Collette / Corpus Christi Caller-Times

FALFURRIAS – Unidentified migrants who died entering the United States were buried in mass graves in a South Texas cemetery, with remains found in trash bags, shopping bags, body bags, or no containers at all, researchers discovered. In one burial, bones of three bodies were inside one body bag. In another instance, at least five people in body bags and smaller plastic bags were piled on top of each other, Baylor University anthropologist Lori Baker said. Skulls were found in biohazard bags — like the red plastic bags in receptacles at doctors’ offices — placed between coffins. “To me it’s just as shocking as the mass grave that you would picture in your head, and it’s just as disrespectful,” said Krista Latham, a forensic anthropologist at the University of Indianapolis.

Illegal immigration – A global problem

SANTA TERESA, N.M. – Recent headlines in the U.S. have focused on a major influx of undocumented immigrants crossing our southern border with Mexico, many of them children either traveling alone or with single mothers seeking refuge. According to Homeland Security some 52,000 children have arrived on the U.S.-Mexico border since October of last year, most coming from Central American countries including Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, looking to escape the upsurge in violence and destitution threatening those countries. Some, apparently, are trying to take advantage of special treatment afforded children and families that cross the border illegally which they believe, mistakenly or otherwise, will allow them to stay. The paid “coyotes” smuggling them encourage this misinformation in promoting their services throughout the perilous journey from their home countries to the border. This is only the latest in the influx of undocumented (illegal) immigrants from the south that have looked to the U.S. for shelter from economic and/or violent social oppression in their homelands.

Empower girls, keep them in school, global education experts say


WASHINGTON – Globally, 30 million girls don’t get a basic education, according to the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution. Isabel Matenje, a gender and social development specialist who is married to the ambassador of Malawi to the U.S., was one girl who got the opportunity to pursue an education.  In fact, she was the only girl at her school who didn’t drop out. “I happened to go to a secondary school that was in a district where my dad came from and that was kind of the rural district,” Matenje said. “I was working very hard, being advised by my parents that I needed to succeed. The other girls’ parents weren’t helping them to understand what education was all about.”

Experts in women’s education said Tuesday at the Brookings Institution that it is important for girls and their families to see the value in educating girls and empowering them to feel entitled to an education.

U.S. struggles with influx of Central American children at Mexican border

WASHINGTON – A surge of unaccompanied children arriving from Central America at the U.S.-Mexico border will not be given legal status, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said this week. “I wish to make clear that those apprehended at our border are priorities for removal. They are priorities for enforcement of our immigration laws regardless of age,” Johnson said. Johnson held a press conference Thursday in which he laid out an 11 point plan to accommodate the children that includes a request for more temporary shelters and preliminary health screenings. As many as 60,000 children could arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border this year.

#SomosTodosMacacos #WeAreAllMonkeys

EL PASO — “There is no racism [on the field], but maybe there is a word or gesture that is not correct. The one affected by this should say this is a game and shake hands.”
That is the answer to racism that Sepp Blatter, the president of FIFA, the international governing body of soccer, proposed when interviewed by CNN back in 2011. Not only did he deny that racism exists, which is not the only time he (or FIFA) has denied racism, he proposed a preposterous solution to battle racism when two high profile cases of racism were going on in England. Barcelona star Daniel Alves, who is Brazilian, along with his teammate and compatriot Neymar Santos have decided to not battle racism with something as simplistic as a handshake. They have taken to social media to spread their message, “Somos todos macacos”, Portuguese for “We are all monkeys.”
It started during a Spanish league game, when Barcelona FC were playing a game in Villarreal and in the 77th minute a fan from Villarreal threw a banana at Alves, who was about to take a corner kick.

Volunteering finds its way from the classroom into the community

EL PASO — The concept of volunteer work is evolving rapidly within higher education as a relatively new idea called service learning, which transforms book learning into hands-on work in the community. According to Campus Compact, a national coalition of public and community service organizations, 44 per cent of college students participated in some form of volunteer work during the 2011-2012 academic year, an estimated $9.7 billion worth of service to their communities. Hector Garza, a junior studying political science at the University of Texas Pan American in Edinburg, Texas, describes service learning as early career training for a college student. He explained that “service learning actually gives you the opportunity take it to the community and actually see what you are learning and how it comes to life.”

Service learning takes place worldwide impacting millions of students and communities. This past April, 1, 400 high school students, college professors, teachers, and non profit representatives from the U.S. and other countries gathered at the 26th Annual Service Learning Conference in Washington, D.C.

The Monumental Conference, as it was named, offered many 90-minute workshops to sharpen and educate attendees about service learning with tools, resources, and ideas to better serve their communities.

El Paso del Norte Youth Leadership Forum

EL PASO — Place yourself in the shoes of a graduating high school senior, approaching the real world unaware of what to expect. Now place yourself in the shoes of a graduating high school senior with a disability. As appealing the idea of college may seem, most graduating students with disabilities lack the confidence and resources they need to get there. The El Paso del Norte Youth Leadership Forum (YLF) is a local community event that happens once a year in October. The forum has been around for 12 years strong and is going on its 13th year.

About 25 people participate in the Huerto Amistad garden on Beverly Ann in San Elizario. The garden was started in 2013. (Kirstie Hettinga/

Water, commitment are challenges for sustainable gardens in El Paso

EL PASO — San Elizario, Texas is a newborn city with a long history. The area was established in the mid-18th century as part of the Spanish colonial mission trail, but it’s only been officially incorporated since November 2013 and its first mayor took office on May 22, 2014. The rich history of San Elizario is largely agricultural and according to Mayor Maya Sanchez, honoring those roots and protecting the rural community is critical. “My family goes back five generations in San Elizario. It’s an agricultural community, historically has been.

A creamy heart enhances a cup of freshly roasted Ethiopian coffee from BLDG 6 Coffee Roasters in east El Paso.(Michael Marcotte/

New craft coffee culture brewing in El Paso

EL PASO — Wake up and smell the craft coffee, El Paso. The national craft coffee craze has slow-dripped its way into town, and three entrepreneurs hope locals perk up, take notice and embrace the new brew. Sales of craft or specialty coffees have given the U.S. industry a jolt, helping to drive up revenue 7.4 percent last year to $11 billion, according to the research firm IBISWorld. The trend of drinking a $3-$8 cup of java made from premium, exotic beans from around the world and lovingly roasted on the spot by certified artisans has been piping hot in cities such as Seattle, Portland and Dallas. In the last year, the trend has percolated into El Paso where it is slowly catching on.

Food truck park growing clientele in Downtown El Paso but still facing challenges

EL PASO — Until recently, Lydia Palacios could not remember the last time she had been downtown. A lifelong El Paso resident, Palacios said downtown was more a childhood memory than a current event. “My father would take us on the bus downtown and take us to Kress to eat lunch,” said Palacios referring to S.H. Kress & Co., the five-and-dime with a lunch counter on the northwest corner of North Oregon Street and Mills Avenue. On her way to a doctor’s appointment on a recent Monday in June, Palacios said she and her husband, Sergio, were doing something they had not done in many years – lunching together downtown. The two sat at an umbrella-covered table waiting for the fish tacos they had ordered from The Reef Mobile Kitchen, a food truck on Mills Street that serves seafood Mexican fare.

From farm to table: The growth of organic food in El Paso

EL PASO — Natural. Healthy. Green. Whatever term you choose, organic food is a growing industry in the El Paso area. Nearly a dozen local restaurants offer organic fare but, even more importantly, they are working with local farmers to source their foods.

Caring for thousands of children crossing illegally into the U.S. to cost $868 million in 2014

EL PASO – Employees at a children’s shelter in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, found 12-year-old Noemi Alvarez Quillay’s lifeless body hanging from a shower-curtain rod last March. The Ecuadorian girl had been trying to cross the border to reach her parents in New York when police apprehended her. She is only one of thousands of unaccompanied children braving exhausting heat during the day, freezing winds throughout the night, gang violence and corrupt authorities during their arduous journey north to the U.S. border. For Alvarez, the perilous journey ended within sight of the bridge that connects the two countries, but for her that was one bridge too far. Mexican authorities ruled her death a suicide because she was in fear of being deported back to Ecuador.

La enseñanza del inglés en Juárez mantiene un escaso nivel de aprendizaje entre estudiantes universitarios

CD. JUAREZ — “Hello, my name is Alicia”. Esa expresión, junto con los nombres de los números y colores, fue lo único que Alicia Contreras Vargas logró aprender mientras cursó la secundaria. En retrospectiva, la hoy estudiante universitaria recuerda que sus clases de inglés simplemente “no tenían chiste”. Al igual que Contreras Vargas, un gran número de estudiantes en Ciudad Juárez reconocen el bajo nivel de aprendizaje logrado a lo largo de tres o más años de recibir cursos de ese idioma, pero no saben explicarse del todo las causas de ese déficit.

Decenas de miles de perros en estado de abandono proliferan en las calles de Juárez

CD. JUAREZ — Derivado de su incontrolable sobrepoblación en Ciudad Juárez, es común ver a diario sobre las calles infinidad de perros muertos por atropellamiento. Lo que no es usual es verlos morir lentamente de hambre y frío cuando éstos son apenas unos vulnerables cachorros. “Cuando vi a ese perrito durmiendo en una bolsa de basura me dio tristeza, y no pude hacer mucho por él ya que en mi trabajo no había dónde dejarlo, ¡y pues no me iban a recibir en la oficina con el perrito!”, expresa desesperado Edmundo Dagoberto Escobedo Zubia, veterinario local, quien de alguna forma intentó ayudar a que el cachorro sobreviviera. Al día siguiente el pequeño perro fue encontrado muerto.

Privatización de PEMEX

CIUDAD JUAREZ — El 18 de Marzo de 1938, El presidente Lázaro Cárdenas anunció el decreto de expropiación de la industria petrolera. En un momento histórico para el país, el pueblo jubiloso espontáneamente donó para indemnizar a las empresas extranjeras. La expropiación petrolera se dio gracias a los logros de la Revolución Mexicana. Estampados en la Constitución de 1917 en el artículo 27, en el cual se establece, entre otros, que es propiedad de la nación todo lo que esté en el subsuelo del territorio; y se faculta al gobierno a expropiar en caso de utilidad pública. Ahora el gobierno de Enrique Peña Nieto le da un golpe bajo a los mexicanos con la privatización de Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX).

‘Frida Kahlo’ celebrated Mother’s Day at Café Mayapan

EL PASO— With thick, painted-on eyebrows, ribbons entangled in braided hair with brightly colored roses at the crown of their heads, the women came dressed in their best Frida Kahlo outfits to make a strong statement about powerful Mexican women on Mother’s Day. An “Evening of Frida Kahlo” took place Friday May 9th at Café Mayapán located at 2000 Texas Avenue, with games, raffles, a film, food, and fun. The group hosting the event was La Mujer Obrera, a local group of women factory workers that was formed in 1981 by displaced garment workers. “We wanted something to celebrate women, something to celebrate mothers,” said Cemelli De Aztlán, one of the evening’s hosts. Frida Kahlo de Rivera was born July 6, 1907 in the Coyoacan neighborhood of Mexico City.

Madres de las desaparecidas lloran los feminicidios de sus hijas

CD JUAREZ — Unidas en un grito de justicia “Vivas se las llevaron, vivas las queremos”, madres de desaparecidas se reunieron ante La cruz de clavos, frente al puente internacional Santa Fe este 9 de mayo. En un momento conmovedor, las madres con lágrimas en sus ojos, oraron y cantaron por el regreso con vida de sus hijas. En vísperas del día de las madres se manifestaron para exigir a las autoridades que encuentren con vida a sus hijas y se acabe con la impunidad. Las madres declararon que no tienen nada que celebrar porque les quitaron una parte de su vida. Después de repartir y pegar volantes con las pesquisas de sus hijas en la cruz, las integrantes de “Madres y Familias Unidas por Nuestras Hijas”, se dirigieron hacia el Valle de Juárez en una caravana llamada “Conmemorando la Vida”, en memoria por las jóvenes desparecidas, y las jóvenes cuyos restos fueron encontrados en la Sierra de San Ignacio del Valle de Juárez.

A propósito de Gabriel García Márquez

EL PASO — Quizá ya lo hemos olvidado. El 17 de abril murió Gabriel García Márquez. Curiosamente su cuerpo eligió morir en la fecha en que murió Benjamin Franklin, al cual quizá le hubiera gustado conocer, y asimismo en el mes en que fallecieron Cervantes, Shakespeare, el Inca Garcilaso, Juana Inés de la Cruz, César Vallejo, Úrsula Iguarán, Yasunari Kawabata y Octavio Paz. Pero tales datos son, desde luego, meramente llamativos y sólo interesan al pedante o al enamorado de las coincidencias. Lo esencial (si es que hay algo esencial en el mundo) es que mientras García Márquez estaba vivo sentíamos que al rompecabezas de nuestra Latinoamérica, pese a su aspecto de disparate, no le faltaba ninguna pieza.

Buscando asilo político en E.U., se pasan tres meses encarceladas

El PASO — Cuando Sylvia Salcedo de Arvilla sintió que su vida y la de su familia estaban en peligro, pidió asilo político en el cruce internacional sin pensarlo dos veces. Ella había oído de varias personas que habían huido de México cruzando el puente y decidió seguir en sus pasos. Pero no esperaba que la trataran como un criminal. “Nunca nos imaginamos que el proceso podía ser largo yo pensé que ese mismo día nos dejarían estar con el resto de la familia, pero no; esto duró tres meses”, dijo Salcedo de Arvilla. Salcedo de Arvilla y su familia estaban bien establecidos en Ciudad Juárez ya que eran dueños de un par de tortillerías.

A smoke-free campus protects the health of all, but frustrates some

EL PASO — Some students and staff at The University of Texas at El Paso say that smoking cigarettes can ease the stress that comes with study or work, but that tension isn’t going away any time soon. After 100 years the cloud of tobacco smoke at UTEP is lifting. UTEP banned the use of all tobacco products from university property on February 20.Notifications for the major campus reform came through a mass email that afternoon but for some the full realization didn’t hit home until they arrived on campus the following week. The school mascot PayDirt Pete adorned Smoke Free Campus signs and orange flags representing tobacco litter on the floor were there like slaps in the faces of unaware smokers.This massive reform affects too many people to be broadcast through only an email, according to smoker Tony Acuna, who was one of many regulars hanging out outside the doors of the library. He said that his rights are at stake.“Smoking is my choice, just as eating fast food,” said Acuna.