Guatemalan family first to be deported from U.S. in Trump’s ‘remain in Mexico’ program

A 30-year-old Guatemalan woman and her two sons on Friday became the first people to be deported from the United States while taking part in a controversial Trump administration program that requires some migrants to remain in Mexico while their U.S. immigration cases are heard. “Over there (in Guatemala), if they do something to me my children have somewhere to go. Over here (in Mexico,) they have nothing if something happens to me,” Karla told immigration judge Nathan Herbert in El Paso. Borderzine is not using her full name because she said her family faces threats in Guatemala. More: On Mexico’s southern border, migrants seek to survive one day at a time

‘Uncaged Art’ exhibit gives voice to migrant children detained in Tornillo tent city
Karla, her 9-year-old son Eddin and her 11-month-old son Ian entered the United States in El Paso on March 25, according to court documents.

Salvage cars destined for Mexico outnumber people in this Texas border town

TORNILLO, Tx — This small town in eastern El Paso County has less than 2,000 residents, but is far from being tranquil as a jangly parade of used vehicles bound for Mexico are hauled through its streets every day. “The amount of traffic that goes by the front of the house is terrible because a lot of those guys are pulling two or three cars. Parts are falling off of them, it’s a hazard for us” said longtime Tornillo resident Jay Martin. El Paso County Commissioner Vince Perez said the vehicles started moving through Tornillo in huge numbers when the U.S. port of entry with Mexico opened in 2016. Previously, used vehicles were being imported into Mexico through port of entry at Santa Teresa, N.M., but when the Tornillo port opened it was designated as the sole crossing point for this sector.

Central American women fleeing violence experience more trauma after seeking asylum

Laurie C. Heffron, St. Edward’s University

The number of Central American women who make difficult, often harrowing, journeys to the United States to flee domestic and gang violence is rising. I’m a social science researcher and a social worker who has interviewed hundreds of women after they were detained by immigration authorities for my research about the relationship between violence against women and migration. I find that most female asylum seekers experience trauma, abuse and violence before they cross the U.S. border seeking asylum. What these women go through while detained by Customs and Border Protection or Immigration and Customs Enforcement can take an additional physical, social and emotional toll.

Ideas para reducir su tiempo de espera en los cruces internacionales

CIUDAD JUAREZ — Cruzar de Ciudad Juárez a la ciudad vecina de El Paso, es un fenómeno necesario; ya sea para estudiar, trabajar o incluso por motivos personales como visitar a familiares. Algunas personas solo dan uso de los puentes internacionales solo para aprovechar precios y/o servicios no disponibles en su ciudad de origen.

El hecho de tener todos los documentos necesarios y en línea para cruzar, no te garantiza un viaje cómodo y rápido. Para eso, existen varias opciones disponibles para los viajeros internacionales: Santa Fe (Centro), Zaragoza (Ysleta), Santa Teresa y Córdova-Américas, mejor conocido como “El Puente Libre” A diferencia de los demás cruces internacionales en esta frontera, El Puente Libre se distingue por ser gratuito. Eso es una de las razones por lo que los tiempos de espera suelen ser más pesados con una espera de 20 a 25 minutos más en comparación de a los demás cruces internacionales. De acuerdo con información de U.S. Customs and Border Protection, CBP, los tiempos de espera en puente suelen variar dependiendo del tiempo, con un promedio de 25 a 40 minutos y en horas pico con un promedio de 1 hora y media o más.

International commuters worry about possible border shutdown

By Marisol Chavez and Valeria Olivares
University of Texas at El Paso students are experiencing as long as five hours to cross from Juarez and are becoming more anxious as President Donald Trump threatens to close the border. “It’s stressful to think that you might be in Juarez and then the border might shut down,” said Arlen Ozuna, a UTEP student and El Paso Country Club employee. “You’re not going to be able to go to school, you’re not going to be able to go to work.”
The longer and slower lines at the international bridges are affecting people who cross the border regularly for school, work, shopping and even visiting family. At a news conference last week in El Paso, Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said he was moving 750 officers from international bridges throughout the Southwest to assist in migrant processing effort. He acknowledge this would disrupt the movement of goods and people across the border, especially over the Semana Santa (Holy Week) period. Long lines have been reported this week at bridges between the U.S. and Mexico throughout the Southwest border.

On Mexico’s southern border, migrants seek to survive one day at a time

Stacey Wilson-Forsberg, Wilfrid Laurier University and Iván Francisco Porraz Gómez, ECOSUR

The day we arrive in Ciudad Hidalgo, Chiapas, the southern Mexican state that borders Guatemala, all is quiet. A violent confrontation had occurred just the day before: Central American migrants, mostly from Honduras, had thrown rocks at Mexican migration officials who attempted to stop their entry into Mexico over the international bridge. Many of the migrants hope their final destination will be a better life in the United States. As we approach the town, we chance upon a small caravan of about 30 men, women and children walking along the road in the scorching sun. They are in rough shape and we decide not to take photos today.

Photo gallery: Migrant children draw their gratitude for El Paso’s kindness

Since early October, the El Paso region has seen an influx of asylum seekers released to the community after processing by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Thousands of people – mostly families from the Central American countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, but also from Cuba, Nicaragua and other nations  – have passed interviews in which they have shown credible fear of persecution if returned to their home countries. They now face an immigration court process that could take years to determine their fate. But for the time being, they are legally entitled to live in the United States. Upon release by ICE in El Paso, their first stop is a “hospitality center” run by a nonprofit called Annunciation House, which has provided services to migrants for more than 40 years.

UCLA grad student documents experience of cross-border commuters at Juarez-El Paso bridges and other ports of entry

EL PASO – Before sunup on a recent breezy Monday morning, Estefania Castañeda-Perez, 27, stood outside the Sun Metro’s Santa Fe Street downtown bus transfer center with a stack of surveys in her arms. Her mission: to further research on the experiences of people crossing the border bridges from Ciudad Juarez to El Paso. The ambitious project, she says, hits close to home. “I began to regularly cross the border when I started to attend middle school in San Diego,” said Castañeda-Perez, a political science Ph.D. student at University of California Los Angeles. Castaeñda-Perez was born in Tijuana and, as an infant, her parents began crossing her back and forth across the border. When she was older, she began to cross to attend school in San Diego.

ICE leaves crowd of migrants stranded in Downtown El Paso for Christmas; community rises to respond with compassion

EL PASO – Here’s a sense of the scene Sunday evening at the Greyhound bus station about two hours after ICE dropped off more than 150 destitute, scared and confused Central American asylum seekers. Mothers traveling alone with small children clinging to them. Fathers traveling with children who are never more than inches away from each other. Over and over they ask to use my phone. They have phone numbers memorized, or scrawled on worn scraps of paper for family or contacts in the U.S. I dial South Carolina, then New Jersey, Tennessee, California.

El Pasoans rush to respond with compassion as ICE leaves migrants in the streets

EL PASO – Chaos loomed when Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents dropped about 100 Central American migrants at the Greyhound station of this border city without notice Friday night. The families were in a strange city, many with little money and limited ability to contact loved ones for help. Then they were helped by angels. Ruben Garcia, the founder and director of the Annunciation House program that has housed and fed migrants for more than 40 years, knew since Wednesday that ICE planned to begin a new policy of essentially dumping migrants on border city streets. The migrants had been detained for several days in what are supposed to be short-term holding cells along the border in El Paso, and border authorities are struggling to cope with a fresh surge of Central American families coming to the United States to flee poverty, violence and corruption in their home countries.

As costs for detaining migrant children soar, Trump administration draining cash from health, education programs

Costs of detaining migrant children at shelters in Tornillo, Texas, and other locations around the country are skyrocketing, with the Trump administration now saying it may cost $100 million a month just to operate the 3,800-bed tent facility outside of El Paso. The administration has not yet provided an accounting of how much in total it has been spending to detain children who either were separated from their parents or apprehended after crossing the border without a parent or guardian. But information provided so far indicates the amount is substantial, forcing the government to transfer hundreds of millions of dollars targeted for medical research, treatment and other programs so that it can care for a rapidly growing number of children in government custody. I have been writing about these issues for Texas Monthly and the Washington Post since June, when the government opened what was then a 400-bed shelter in Tornillo. While the world’s attention was focused on the controversial family separation policy, less attention was paid to other important changes to policies on how migrant children were treated.

Judge gives Thursday deadline for plan to reunify children with hundreds of parents government lost track of

A federal judge has given the government and American Civil Liberties Union until Thursday to develop a plan for reuniting hundreds of children who still haven’t been reunited with their parents weeks or months after being separated at the border. “The judge is making clear to the government that this must be a collaborative effort and that the government cannot place all the responsibility on the families, especially when it was the government that deported these parents in the first place,” ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt said in a statement. According to court filings, the government has custody of 431 children whose parents were deported earlier this year without the children they brought with them to the United States. Another 79 children are listed as “adult released to the interior,” and another 94 are listed as “adult location under case file review.”

These 604 children between the ages of 5 and 17 are among the 711 declared “ineligible” for reunification last week as the government declared that it had complied with an order by U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw of San Diego to reunite families separated at the border by U.S. Border Patrol agents. The ACLU filed a lawsuit in February that resulted in Sabraw’s reunification order.

Young people adapt to changing life in a U.S., Mexico borderplex

By Billy Cruz, Youth Radio

Along the dry, rocky desert of El Paso, Texas–past all the food chains and shopping malls–a brown fence stretches for miles. The fence marks the southern U.S. border that separates El Paso from its Mexican sister city, Juarez. Antonio Villaseñor-Baca is 22-years-old and was born and raised in El Paso. His hometown is a huge “borderplex” that spans the Rio Grande River. Antonio has an uncle in Juarez, and while growing up, his dad would take him back and forth a lot.

Video: Faith-based shelter gives migrants ‘hospitality, some semblance of humanity’

Volunteers at Casa Vides, a shelter for migrants in El Paso, explain how the non-profit provides comfort for people trying to navigate the U.S. immigration system. Casa Vides is one shelter in a sanctuary network for refugees and homeless poor managed by the faith-based Annunciation House. This video story was produced as part of a collaborative reporting project with Borderzine staff and Youth Radio.

What is life really like in a Texas border city?

Life in a border city can be like a relationship status on social media. It’s complicated. More than 1 million people live in the El Paso-southern New Mexico region. Another 1.3 million live across the border in Juarez, Mexico. We are separated by an international boundary set along the path of a formerly meandering river.

Summer job at El Paso migrant shelter proves ‘vastly different’ experience for Notre Dame students

By Billy Cruz, Youth Radio
EL PASO – When I arrived at Casa Vides, a migrant shelter in El Paso Texas, I found a two-story brick building close enough to the border that I could walk to it. The building was almost a perfect cube shape, and as I knocked on the heavy wooden door, I wondered to myself, “Is this really where undocumented migrants are being housed?”

But I wasn’t there to interview migrants this time — Casa Vides wouldn’t permit me to talk to any of them in order to protect their privacy. I was there to talk to two college students who live and work with the migrants for the summer.

Casa Vides is a place that provides refuge for two types of people: those who evaded border patrol, and those who were caught — handed over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement — and then released while their cases are still pending. Casa Vides provides food, shelter, and legal support to around 40 residents at a time and is run by the faith-based non-profit organization, Annunciation House.

El Paso shelter helps migrant parents regain children taken by U.S. border agents

Confusion has reigned in the days since the Trump administration ended its controversial practice of taking children away from parents arrested at the Border. One El Paso nonprofit group has taken the lead on efforts to reunify parents and children, and to make sure the world knows their stories. At 2:45 p.m. on Sunday, a Department of Homeland Security bus pulled up outside Casa Vides, a shelter run by Annunciation House, and disgorged 32 people who had been held on misdemeanor immigration charges until the charges were dropped Thursday and Friday.  Annunciation House, which provides shelter and legal services for migrants and refugees, would help them begin what promises to be an arduous process of reunifying them with their children. Annunciation House Executive Director Ruben Garcia said he believed this was the first large-group release of parents who had been jailed under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration enforcement policy. The group of migrants were connected with legal help, focused on getting their children back.

‘Dreamers’ fear deportation, family separation as local advocates take up their cause

El Paso County has approximately 2000 immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents when they were children who are temporarily protected from deportation by a federal program, known as DACA, approved by former President Obama.  

Following the election of President Donald Trump two years ago and his pledge to end the program, the future of these young immigrants, known as Dreamers who now total 11 million, remains in legal limbo as Congress refuses to act on legislation that would provide them with permanent status. They remain in a state of constant fear that the protection from deportation they now enjoy will end in permanent separation from the U.S. family members. Members of the El Paso-area immigration advocacy organization, Border Network for Human Rights (BNHR), say they are committed to continue to help local Dreamers win the right to remain permanently in the country. Based in El Paso, Texas, BNHR has a membership of more than 700 families, in parts of West Texas and southern New Mexico.

Push to speed up immigration courts undercuts justice, lawyers say

EL PASO – The pressure to curb the growing backlog in immigration courts threatens the rights of detained immigrants, especially those seeking asylum, lawyers and immigration judges say. The Executive Office of Immigration Review recently established completed case quotas for immigration judges to decrease the backlog, but immigration judges say the move will increase the backlog due to potential appeals. Immigration attorneys said this is an effort to speed up the deportation of hundreds of thousands of people. “Make no mistake, the outcome this administration truly desires from mandating quotas on an understaffed adjudicatory agency with a needlessly overstuffed docket is to transform it into a deportation machine,” said Jeremy McKinney, a North Carolina immigration attorney who is secretary of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. The move calls for immigration judges to complete at least 700 cases per year, a number that was called unreasonable by immigration judges.

Trump official inaccurately claims 1,200 percent increase in border apprehensions

A Trump administration official on Friday wildly misstated border apprehension figures in justifying the decision to deploy National Guard forces to the border. “Our apprehensions in Fiscal Year 2017 were at the lowest level in 45 years. That said, we have experienced a significant increase over the past 12 months. A 1,200 percent in apprehensions, including the number of family units and unaccompanied children,” Ronald Vitiello, the deputy commissioner for Customs and Border Protection, said at a news conference in El Paso. When asked for data on the 1,200 percent increase claim, a CBP spokesman said Vitiello had misspoken.

If these walls could talk – El Paso County farm that served as processing center for Bracero Program evokes memories of a different era

Francisco Uviña was 19 when he crossed the U.S. border in search for work in the 1950’s. Like many other Mexican laborers of that time, Uviña was signed up for the Bracero Program which offered a solid wage and an opportunity of a lifetime to live and work in the agriculture sector of the United States. Uviña first heard of the Bracero Program from friends and neighbors in his hometown of San Luis de Cordero, Durango. In the spring of 1953, he then joined a caravan of over 1,000 laborers who traveled by bus to to Chihuahua City, Mexico, to register for the program. This year marks the 76th anniversary of the Bracero Program, a labor program that allowed more than four million Mexican men to cross into the United States to work the fields after U.S. men went off to fight in World War II.

After finding out he is a U.S. citizen, immigrant student doubles up on workload to reunite with his family from Mexico

As a child growing up in Ciudad Juarez, Alexis Mesta loved racing his bike with his neighborhood friends and watching Saturday morning cartoons on TV, especially Courage the Cowardly Dog. He loved eating his grandma’s homemade food and spending time with her. He says he was a carefree, well-adjusted boy, blessed with loving parents who wanted the best for him.  

That life ended when, as a teenager, he moved alone to El Paso to create a new life for himself and help his family. Today, Mesta, 22, works two jobs, studies for his master’s in business administration at UTEP and has sponsored his mom, dad, sister and brother to live in the U.S.

“I wanted to sponsor my family because I wanted my brother and sister to have the same advantages that I did,” said Mesta, who was born in El Paso and is a U.S. citizen.

Estudios viajan al extranjero con programa Study Abroad

La oficina de estudios extranjeros de UTEP provee a los estudiantes la oportunidad de mejorar su experiencia educativa participando en cualquiera de los muchos programas internacionales que ofrecen. UTEP tiene acuerdos con más de 200 universidades en más de 50 países, dijo Carolina Terán, asistente de la oficina de estudios extranjeros. La Universidad cuenta con personal capacitado para orientar a los estudiantes y educarlos con los diferentes programas que ofrecen, Terán comento. UTEP no solo da la oportunidad a sus estudiantes de conocer diferentes partes del mundo, si no también abre sus puertas a estudiantes que quieren vivir la experiencia de ser parte de los Mineros de Texas y estudiar un año o un semestre aquí, dijo Terán. Estudiar en algún otro país, estudiantes corren el riesgo de vivir la experiencia de algún atentado o un ataque terrorista.

UTEP students experience Cuban culture first-hand in study-abroad course

During eight days in June 2017, UTEP students learned about Cuban media, art and culture during one-on-one exchanges with visual artists, writers, journalists, economists, communication students and ordinary Cubans during a study tour of Havana. UTEP Professors Zita Arocha and Dr. Irasema Coronado led the group of students from various majors such as political science, communication, multimedia journalism and theater arts. Highlights of the study trip included a day of learning about environmental and digital journalism at the Centro Internacional de Peridoismo Jose Marti and the above intimate conversation with editors and journalists at Cuba’s Educational Television station. Communication majors Guillermo Villaseñor-Baca and Tania Moran produced these multimedia stories about the trip, which most called a “life altering” and “transformational” experience.

Cuban college students use “cachivache,” junk, to create online treasure

The word cachivache translates to junk, or rubbish, but in Cuba repurposing junk, in this case technology, is an aspect of daily life. That’s what a group of entrepreneurial University of Havana Communication students did a little over a year ago when they reengineered existing and accessible media technology to create a hip web magazine catering to Cuban citizens. was the product of their creativity and persistence and is indicative of the Communist country’s spirit of endurance, resistance and innovation after 50 years of a U.S. economic blockade and political standoff. The magazine is currently on hold as its staff considers its future direction. Daniella Fernandez, 21, an under graduate student at the University of Havana and community manager for the web magazine, explained why the magazine she helped launch 18 months ago was named after the Cuban word for junk.

El Consulado de México en El Paso se pinta de colores en contra de los muros

Con diversos colores y un sinfín de detalles artísticos, el Consulado de México en El Paso tiene programado estrenar en el próximo mes un nuevo mural el cual promueve la unión de México y los Estados Unidos al igual que la bi-nacionalidad. Paloma Vianey Martínez, artista creadora del mural, es una estudiante de historia del arte y pintura en la Universidad de Texas en El Paso. Martínez, que nació en Ciudad Juárez y tiene 21 años de edad, fue recomendada por la Presidenta de la Universidad Diana Natalicio para que fuera ella quien llevara a cabo esta ardua tarea. “Paloma es un talento de UTEP y la propia doctora Diana Natalicio me la presentó y me comentó que ha sido una persona que ha destacado. Tuve el interés de conversar con ella y pedirle que pudiera aportar al consulado su talento y su arte,” dijo Marcos Bucio, Cónsul General de México en El Paso.

El Paso family lives binational life thanks to SENTRI program

Luis is among the thousands of people who cross the Juarez-El Paso border each day. His wife, Gabriela, often greets him at the door of their West Side El Paso home when he returns in the evening to ask “How was your day?” The Rio Grande river and border checkpoints separating Mexico and the United States are not considered obstacles for many locals who have business on both sides, and Luis and Gabriela’s family is no exception. Luis – who asked that only first names be used in this story – lives in El Paso, but works in sales in Juarez. His family is among the nearly 50,000 people enrolled in the Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI) program that allows them to bypass long lines and cross the international checkpoint more quickly.

Books and backpacks less easy to carry across the border now than before:  Mexican students who attend U.S. schools face a new reality in the anti-immigrant age of Trump

EL PASO – Hundreds of students cross the border from Ciudad Juarez to El Paso daily,  carrying heavy backpacks and books and dreams of a better life.  Heightened  anti immigrant  rhetoric across the country and various immigration enforcement executive orders from President Donald Trump have added more stress and uncertainty to their daily lives. Over 1,000 Mexican students attend the the University of Texas at El Paso and about  half commute to campus from their homes in Juarez, across the Rio Grande from El Paso, according to a previously published story. The commute is a hardship for many because of the long and complicated commute from their home in Juarez,  a walk  or a car ride across an international border bridge to have their documents checked, followed by a bus ride  to the UTEP campus some five to 10 minutes from downtown El Paso,

Related: In 2016, commuting daily from Mexico to attend school in the U.S. was no big deal for students who budgeted their time well

Most must wake up before dawn to make it to an early morning class, and often don’t return home to Juarez until well past the dinner hour.  Depending on the amount of foot or car traffic on the international bridge, the crossing time can vary from 20 minutes to two hours.