Border Patrol officer, Ralph Gomez, talks to reporter Seok Kang at the international border. (Christopher Karadjov/

A Day with Border Patrol Agents in El Paso, TX

EL PASO, Texas — Border patrol agents deal with everyday conflicts and apprehensions in the border areas. Chris Karadjov, Donna Pazdera, and Seok Kang tagged along with two border patrol agents, Joe Romero and Ralph Gomez. Contrary to what non-border residents may think, the boundary between the United States and Mexico is not a straight line or a simple division between the two places. The border bisects desert, mountains and urban areas. Each type of terrain calls for simple fencing in desert areas, tall steel mesh in more populated areas and plain rocks markers in mountainous areas or open desert, for example.

Slab City artists play their music free and easy

NILAND, Calif.–In a small secluded area on the outskirts of this desert town, a mish-mash of trailers and tents surround a big stage that unites the people of Slab City in a very unique way and brings their musical talents to life every Saturday night. Slab City is a tiny “town” where there are no bills to pay, no running water or electricity, and when nature calls, you choose your bush.  And yet there are about 50 people who live here year round, even in the harsh summer months when temperatures can reach 118 degrees and “residents” spend a lot of time cooling off in nearby irrigation canals. “Most of the people who live out here in Slab City have lost their home, money, and family, so they have nowhere else to go,” said Sean Paul, a U.S. Army combat veteran. “I can eat out of a can. I am used to this, but a suburban American might find living here a challenge.”

Paul said he arrived in Slab City about 13 years ago and he chose to stay because life at the Slabs is free.

Where the arts are scarce, Southwest High School offers an oasis for talented Imperial Valley students

EL CENTRO, Calif.— The visual and performing arts have not always been a rich part of the culture in this desert region in Southern California’s Imperial Valley.  Riches here are normally measured in water, produce and geothermal, and experiencing the arts was typically done 120 miles away in San Diego. But, the one and only arts magnet school—Southwest High School in El Centro—is producing a rich pool of future artists for local and global enrichment.  Students of computer animation, media arts, acting, and dancing are pulled from high schools in Imperial County as far as 30 miles away. The following video showcases five outstanding artists from the Southwest Academy of Visual and Performing Arts at Southwest High School. They were chosen by faculty members based on their hard work and exceptional talent as artists:

Instruments create beautiful music—but who creates the instruments? David Armenta, for one

EL CENTRO, Calif.–When David Armenta was all of 15 years old, with little cash in his wallet and a lot of musical spirit in his heart, he wanted a “super cool” guitar that he could not afford. But, instead of running to the local music store to put his dream guitar on layaway, Armenta did something different–he decided he would rather make his own guitar. “I taught myself (to make guitars),” said Armenta, now 23 years old and a communications major at Imperial Valley College in Imperial, Calif. His first investment was a set of carpentry tools he got for the bargain price of $20 at an auction. “You don’t need a lot of tools to make a guitar,” Armenta said, pointing to his head.

Damas de Blanco reciben apoyo en El Paso

EL PASO, Texas — Las Damas de Blanco, familiares de presos políticos en Cuba, fueron apoyadas el fin de semana por casi un centenar de sus paisanos radicados en la ciudad de El Paso, Texas. El sostén moral se hizo patente a través de una manifestación, en Crestmont Park, con reclamos de “justicia y libertad de expresión” para estas mujeres reprimidas en varias ocasiones en la isla. “Son madres, esposas, hijas, hermanas, de prisioneros de conciencia que han sido encarcelados por solo decir lo que piensan en contra del régimen de los hermanos Castro”, dijo, la organizadora de la protesta, Niurka Curbelo. Agregó: “El único delito de estas mujeres es caminar por las calles de La Habana, vestidas con el color de la paz y con flores en sus manos, para mostrar el dolor que sienten por lo que han hecho con sus familiares”. Los cubanos reunidos este sábado, en el Oeste de la ciudad, también vestían de blanco, portaban gladiolos, banderas de Cuba, carteles y fotografías de las víctimas, al estilo de aquellas mujeres.