Simon Jun, an undocumented student and DREAM rider, speaks publicly for the first time about his situation. He says that Congress needs to pass immigration reform for the families living in the shadows. (Rob Denton/SHFWire)

DREAMers go on summer road trip for immigration reform

WASHINGTON – Steps away from the Capitol, DREAM rider Simon Jun spoke publically for the first time Wednesday about being an undocumented student in the U.S.

“Growing up, I understood what it meant to be undocumented,” he said. “Don’t break any laws, no matter how trivial they may seem. Never tell or hint to another individual that you are undocumented.”

Standing next to fellow DREAM riders, Asian-American advocacy groups and members of Congress, Jun called on lawmakers to pass comprehensive immigration reform. He said he is thankful to have received approval to stay in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which grants temporary residency to young adults brought to the country as children. But he said the larger issue needs a permanent fix.

Kent Rinehart laughs as he and his classmates tackle the challenges of learning a new language. (Todd Brison/El Nuevo Tennessean)

Speaking the language: Physicians adapt as Hispanic population grows

By Todd Brison

JOHNSTON CITY, Tenn. – It is difficult for a parent to explain birth control to a child. That topic gets even more complicated when things are the other way around. This is exactly the situation Spanish teacher Holly Melendez found herself in when she accompanied a Spanish-speaking friend to the doctor’s office. “Even as poorly as I was interpreting, the other doctors asked me to come down and help them out with someone else,” Melendez said.

Janaye Ingram, D.C. bureau chief of the National Action Network, speaks about the importance of voting Saturday as part of 100 vigils held around the country for Trayvon Martin. “If we don’t want this to happen again, we have to make sure that stand your ground is repealed and that nothing else similar is introduced,” she said. (Christine Scalora/SHFWire)

Hundreds gather, pray at D.C. vigil for Trayvon Martin

WASHINGTON – Kadija Ash joined hundreds of others Saturday at one of 100 vigils across the country for Trayvon Martin. “This is the story of my life,” she said. “I have three sons.”

Ash, 62, a D.C. resident who works for the city, said lived through the fear that became reality for Trayvon Martin’s mother. Her sons are now in their 40s. “It didn’t for me, but it could have,” she said.

Becoming bilingual

Kids, parents take steps toward new language

By Rebekah Wilson

Often when a family moves to the United States, the children learn English in school but continue speaking Spanish at home. The learning process is enjoyable for some, especially young children, but can be more challenging for others. Kindergarteners Xochil and Jerandy Muñoz said learning English is fun, and the teachers are helpful. They attend South Side Elementary School in Johnson City, Tenn. and have translators and classes to help them learn English.

Esperanza with grandchildren Evan Miller and Trinity McClain. (Photo courtesy of Esperanza Joseph)

Declinar la ciudadanía americana

La lealtad va muy lejos para una mujer de Greeneville

Por O.J. Early, traducido por Paulette Galeas
Read this story in English
JOHNSTON CITY, Tenn. – Un visitante que llegue a la cocina de Esperanza Joseph probablemente la encontrará inclinada sobre el mostrador con las manos embadurnadas de harina de maíz, preparando tamales, quizás para un evento en su iglesia. Esperanza, de 65 años, sirve tamales y otros platillos mexicanos tradicionales desde su niñez, y utiliza su talento culinario como una de las muchas formas de estar activa en la comunidad. Ella ha vivido en Greeneville, Tennessee desde la década de los ochenta y ha estado en los Estados Unidos por más de 40 años. Por lo menos en las dos últimas décadas, de alguna manera Esperanza se ha opuesto a la tendencia nacional.

Orgonite molds curing in the sun. (Sarah Duenas/

Orgonite – invented by Wilhelm Reichin the 1930’s – resurrects in the Sun City

EL PASO – Armando Blanco pours fiberglass resin into a container and begins mixing in iron shavings, quartz crystals, iron oxide and other various organic and inorganic materials. Adding a catalyst he continues mixing and then pours the black chunky mixture into ice cube trays and places them in the sun to cure. Blanco, the founder of Orgonite El Paso, makes Orgonite, a product that he claims attracts positive energy and helps the environment. Through various art shows and local events, Blanco sells or barters his Orgonite. Orgone energy was discovered by Wilhelm Reich, a psychoanalyst, in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

July 4 week events start with a water gun protest march

WASHINGTON – The downpour of rain didn’t bother protesters preparing to march on Washington – they planned to get soaked anyway. As they filled their water guns from an 800-pound water tank in the back of an SUV, the rain ceded and the U.S. and “Don’t tread on me” flags were taken out. On Wednesday morning, 14 protesters walked from Arlington National Cemetery to the Washington Monument in support of the Second Amendment and Toys for Tots. They raised more than $1,200 for the charity and donated several toys. “We’re out here exercising our First Amendment rights in support of the Second Amendment,” march organizer Austin Peterson, 32, a video and photo production company owner from  Alexandria, Va., said.

A sign marks an area restricted by the U.S. Border Patrol near the line between Juarez and El Paso. (Mariana Dell/

House Republicans fume over border security issues

WASHINGTON – On the same day the Senate passed an immigration reform bill, a small group of House Republicans voiced concerns over border security problems.

Republican members of the House Subcommittee on National Security on Oversight and Government Reform brought up numerous concerns for border patrol executives about a new report and border security in general at a hearing Thursday. The Government Accountability Office testified about a report, also released Thursday, that said a $1 billion tax-funded border security program had failed. The Secure Border Initiative Network used technology to create a so-called “virtual fence.” Deemed a failure four years after it began, the program was shut down in 2011. “I know you can never satisfy any government agency’s appetite for money or land, but I’m really skeptical as to whether we can officially and effectively spend all the money we’re throwing at this effort,” Rep. John J. Duncan, R-Tenn., said. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, the subcommittee chair, said his main concern is that border agents do not track immigrants and international visitors when they leave the United States.

Supreme Court rules for gay marriage in two cases, ends term

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court handed supporters of gay marriage a pair of victories Wednesday on the final day of its term. The Supreme Court ruled that the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional and determined that it could not rule on California’s Proposition 8. Both decisions were 5-4. In United States v. Windsor, the DOMA case, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said the act violated the equal protection clause of the Fifth Amendment. DOMA, enacted in 1996, defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

Affirmative action returned to lower court, Title VII of Civil Rights Act further defined

WASHINGTON – In a day full of discrimination decisions, the Supreme Court sent an affirmative action case back to a lower court and ruled on a critical aspect of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The court did not decide whether the University of Texas at Austin acted unconstitutionally in using race as a factor for admissions, leaving the debate over affirmative action unresolved. Justices said that the university must prove to an appeals court that using affirmative action in its admissions process achieves educational benefits from diversity. Essentially, the school must define its criteria for using affirmative action before a decision can be reached. “The particular admissions process used for this objective is subject to judicial review.

The battle over standardized testing

EL PASO—The battle over high-stakes student testing has never been more critical and nowhere more apparent than in El Paso, TX, where educators are morphing into criminals. El Paso Independent School District’s Lorenzo García, is the first superintendent in the nation to be convicted of fraud.  Sentenced in October, he is currently serving a three-year sentence for directing a scheme to hide and manipulate the scores of English Language Learning (ELL) students in state-mandated tests. Immigrant students trapped in the middle

From the day the El Paso Times broke this story last year, many have focused on, Los Desaparecidos –77 students who were coerced into dropping out of school by Garcia’s criminal tactics– but there are hundreds of thousands of students throughout Texas just like them.  Many blame the current educational system for making them disappear. “The one size fits all model does not allow for districts like ours to succeed. So what other ways are there if you can’t succeed?

Multimedia journalism academy gives teachers time to learn

On a Saturday morning in early June, a UTEP classroom buzzed with anticipation as students sat in front of computers and watched demonstrations on the brave new world of multimedia journalism. Their teachers were seasoned pros in the arts of sound recording, social media, videography, web programming, and much more. The students themselves were professionals in a different regard; they were university professors who had traveled from all over the country to participate in the fourth annual Dow Jones Multimedia Training Academy hosted by UTEP. By the end of their five-day intensive program, the group of journalism teachers had learned to beat the El Paso summer heat as well as how to use the technology available to them to educate upcoming generations of reporters. The group included representatives from the University of Arizona, San Diego City College, Arizona State University, North Texas University, California State University at Long Beach, Texas State University, Texas Christian University, Illinois State University,Central Michigan University, Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez, Florida International University and the University of Oklahoma.

Afghan women work in sewing factories to make uniforms and blankets for their military. Afghanistan, 2011 (Photo Courtesy of Andrea Salazar)

Picturing the people and ruins of Afghanistan

EL PASO — Afghan women sit one behind another, feeding tan thread into their sewing machines, looking down at their work in concentration, while one gazes through the slit of her Hijab, her dark eyes piercing the camera lens. This was a photo taken by El Paso native Andrea Salazar during her deployment two years ago. Joining the Air Force in 2009, Salazar has captured images from different parts of the world as a combat photographer in the military. “I never thought about joining in high school,” Salazar said. “When I worked at Ft.

DEA Special Agent in Charge Joseph Arabit (far right) confirm that violence in Juárez was down about 74 percent from its peak in 2010. (Anoushka Valodya/

Juárez violence down 74 percent from 2010 peak

EL PASO – The word “partnership” was frequently used at the round table discussion of “Security Along the U.S.-Mexico Border” to explain what it takes to counter terrorism. This event was one of the many sessions of the 9th annual International Association For Intelligence Education (IAFIE) conference at the University of Texas at El Paso Wednesday. Five government officials of various agencies, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) spoke in the panel. UTEP’s Vice-Provost Michael Smith began the session as the moderator. “This is a topic of keen interest obviously in El Paso and along the border region,” Smith said.

Henry De La Garza, a 1971 University of Texas at El Paso, graduate. (Veronica Enriquez/

BP exec tells how he faced the Deepwater Horizon oil spill crisis

EL PASO — After thousands of barrels of oil began gushing from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig into the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, the company scrambled to contain and explain one of the biggest oil disasters in history. Henry De La Garza, a 1971 University of Texas at El Paso, graduate, was called on to represent BP. De La Garza, 63, returned to his alma mater on May 9, to share his experience with business and communication students. He recounted the steps taken. His career not just in crisis communication, but as a news reporter, producer, and press secretary, gave De La Garza the skills needed to take on the public relations job during this damaging episode for BP.

Lisa Elliott, assistant professor at EPCC, and Bobby Gutierrez, senior lecturer at UTEP, present student work at the third annual Student Film Festival. (Alejandro Alba/

Film festival gives students a greater audience for their work

EL PASO – Film students from the University of Texas at El Paso and El Paso Community College yanked their movies out of their computers and projected them for everyone to view at the third annual Student Film Festival. “The biggest tragedy in filmmaking is for a film to stay in a hard drive. This is what you want, a venue where people can see your work,” said Robert Gutierrez, digital media production professor at UTEP. Gutierrez said the collaboration between the two schools worked as a pipeline so that EPCC students can see what to expect when they transfer to UTEP. “I think the students, before, used to produce for just their friends, but now they know that other people are watching, so that raises their quality of their work,” Gutierrez said.

Amnesty prospects: Where do they come from, and where do they live?

IMPERIAL, Calif.—The first day of Senate debate on immigration reform ended in Washington today with several proposed changes accepted and several tossed by the 18-member committee poring over the merits of the almost 900-page S. 744, the proposed ‘‘Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.’’

The bill would offer conditional amnesty and a path to citizenship to an estimated 11 million immigrants living illegally in the U.S., among other provisions, all of which will require months of debate and amending before adoption. In the meantime, fundamental questions like where those millions of people come from and where they live in America beg some answers. Statistics in the following video come from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Public Policy Institute of California.

thinking regionally to compete globally study by mpi and wilson center

Influential MPI, Wilson Center task force outlines forward-looking, pragmatic vision to strengthen competitiveness for U.S., Mexico & Central America

WASHINGTON — Amid powerful demographic, economic and social forces reshaping Mexico and much of Central America and newfound momentum for reform of the U.S. immigration system, the countries of the region have new avenues to improve opportunities for their own people and strengthen regional competitiveness with new collaborative approaches on migration and human-capital development, an influential task force convened by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) and the Wilson Center concluded in a final report issued today. The Regional Migration Study Group, co-chaired by former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, former U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez and former Guatemalan Vice President and Foreign Minister Eduardo Stein, outlines a forward-looking, pragmatic agenda for the United States, Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras over the next decade and beyond. The report, Thinking Regionally to Compete Globally: Leveraging Migration & Human Capital in the U.S., Mexico, and Central America, caps a 2 ½-year initiative that focused on extensive consultations with policymakers and civil society in the region; produced more than two dozen research reports, policy briefs and briefing papers; and involved extensive deliberations by Study Group members. The final report offers 14 findings and recommendations for policymakers in the region, some focused on the current U.S. legislative debate, others directed at Mexico and Central America. The report notes that there have been no systematic conversations about what a regional approach to migration might look like since discussions initiated by Presidents Bush and Fox were derailed by the 9/11 attacks.

The perception of Mexico in the U.S. hits a new low, according to survey

The U.S. view of Mexico is at its worst level since 1994 and although Americans consider Mexico an important neighbor few Americans are aware of how strong the economic ties are between the two nations. In general, the perception today in the U.S. of Mexico is not favorable according to a recent study by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the Woodrow Wilson Center. On a scale of 0-100 with 0 being very cold and 100 being very warm, Mexico scores a 43. These feelings toward Mexico can be attributed in part to immigration issues and to the escalating level of violence in that country. According to the public opinion survey conducted in April, a majority of Americans believe that bilateral relations are more important with other countries than they are with Mexico.

From left, candidates Dean Martinez, Steve Ortega and Jaime O. Perez at a recent mayoral forum hosted by the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce. (Michelle Blanks/

Eight aspirants vie for one job – Mayor of El Paso

EL PASO – Eight men who aspire to run this city sit, slowly drinking water from Styrofoam cups in front of an audience some 120 persons, in anticipation of the questions they have to answer to prove they are worthy of the title of mayor. The Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce held a mayoral forum recently where the candidates in the May 11 election attempted to prove they each were the best man for the job. Present in the packed hall were: educator Jorge Artalejo, business owner Robert Cormell, mortgage broker Gus Haddad, businessman Oscar Leeser, education management specialist Hector Lopez, U.S. Department of Defense retiree Dean Martinez, city representative Steve Ortega, and educator Jaime Perez. “There is a confidence in the community, optimism about El Paso that I have not seen since living here. If you support my candidacy you support the continued improvement of this community in a positive and ambitious direction,” said Ortega in an opening statement allotted to each candidate in reference to why they would be an ideal mayor for El Paso.

The “Caveman diet” is catching on among health-conscious gym enthusiasts

IMPERIAL, Calif.–Brittany Weiderman doesn’t look like a caveman, but she sure eats like one.  This five-foot tall, 115-pound beauty gets her muscle by push-pressing nearly half her weight and following one of the latest popular diets, the Paleo. “Going Paleo helped everything from my mood to my digestive system. I really noticed a difference in how I felt in a matter of days,” the 25-year-old El Centro hair stylist said. “I’ve had less bloating and more energy that lasts throughout the day instead of just spurts of energy.”

Weiderman converted to the Paleo lifestyle, which is gaining popularity like the previous fads such as the Atkins or South Beach diets.  Paleo has become famous all over the map, even in the Imperial Valley. The Paleolithic diet, also known as the Caveman diet, gets its name from the idea that our bodies are made to digest foods that our hunter-gatherer ancestors consumed.  The paleolithic era was before the agricultural revolution, which proponents claim caused “diseases of civilization,” such as obesity, hypertension, and inflammatory diseases.

Calexico native wins prestigious prize to study credit dependency among recent immigrants

IMPERIAL VALLEY, Calif. – Calexico native and former Imperial Valley College student Luis Flores has been awarded the Judith Lee Stronach Baccalaureate prize to pursue a hands-on solution to educating new immigrants to the U.S. about credit dependency. The $25,000 Stronach award will fund Flores’s “El Valle y la Recesion” project, a visual documentary that will focus on illustrating the difficulties Imperial Valley residents, mainly recent immigrants, struggle with when faced with credit and mortgage decisions. “Rather than blaming immigrants for borrowing too much [money], or for not being educated enough, I want to suggest that there were larger forces compelling immigrants to live a life of credit dependency,” said Flores.  “This project wants to show that the typical explanations of the recession in the region are limited, because they do not look at the history of economic policies in both the Mexicali and Imperial valleys since the 1980s.”

The ultimate result of “El Valle y la Recesion” is to develop an educational and service website, and possibly a bricks-and-mortar service, that will aid border consumers in credit decisions, something that does not exist at this time. Flores, 22, a recent graduate of the University of California, Berkeley with undergraduate degrees in political economy and history, will return to Calexico in August to start his project, which he envisions as a collaboration with IVC, San Diego State University Imperial Valley campus, Universidad Autonoma de Baja California in Mexicali, and the University of Texas El Paso’s student journalism website

Jessica Pérez, graduada en psicología trabaja a tiempo completo en el salón Millennium mientras encuentra un trabajo en su rama. (Jovanna Ramos/

Muchos bachilleres universitarios afrontan desempleo o subempleo

EL PASO— Para Jessica Pérez el 12 de mayo del 2012 es una fecha inolvidable. Este fue el día que se graduó de la Universidad de Texas en El Paso con una licenciatura en psicología. Pérez esperaba con ansias este día y solo pensaba en lo que estaba por venir, una nueva vida como psicóloga. Pero han pasado más de seis meses desde su graduación y Pérez no ha podido conseguir un empleó relacionado con su carrera. “De qué me sirve haber terminado la carrera en los cuatro años si de todos modos no hay oportunidad”, dijo Pérez.

Mexican-American family parked near a cotton field in Mississippi during the 1920s. (Courtesy of Dr. Manuel Ramirez)

A tale of unwritten Mexican-American history told on the Mississippi Delta Tamale Trail

EL PASO — Fresh steaming tamales are sold out of small shacks, directly from vans, and by “tamale ladies” from their homes all along the “Tamale Trail” on the good old Mississippi Delta. “There is a tradition among some African-Americans in Mississippi, Louisiana, little dots on a map going all the way up to Chicago. They make tamales and make up this trail,” said Dr. Roberto Avant-Mier Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), sitting in his office next to a poster of his book, Rock the Nation: Latin/o Identities and the Latin Rock Diaspora, which demonstrates how Latino music influenced early jazz music. Avant-Mier recently discovered the Tamale Trail on a website where Amy Evans Streeter, oral historian at the University of Mississippi Southern Foodways Alliance, published the discussions of the Tamale Trail. She interviewed over a dozen U.S. southerners, including African-Americans, along the Mississippi delta and recorded stories about their tamale tradition.

Winning customer service rep on four legs inspires animal rescue and adoption

EL CENTRO, Calif.–Sitting in the window of Dobson’s Antiques here, a six-year-old basset hound-dachshund mix named Lulu is the target of smiles from onlookers and customers as they walk down Main Street. Little do they know how much time, money, and most of all love, that it took for her owner, Cathy Dobson, to rescue Lulu along with approximately 100 other stray and abused dogs she has rescued in the past 20 years. Saving forsaken pets started when she was living in Los Angeles.  “I found a dog lying in the trash can that was only a couple hours old. And that was my first rescue,” Dobson said. She nursed the puppy to health and after a few months found it a home.

Paisano Green Community (Amber Watts/

El Paso struggles to fit families into public housing after sequestration cuts

EL PASO – Families living in public housing will find their quarters shrinking as a result of the federal budget slashing known as the sequester, but local officials say they hope to avoid putting anybody out on the street. “We are hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst,” said Shane Griffith, El Paso Housing Authority (HACEP) public information officer. HACEP had already been planning how to meet the needs here when the spending reductions cut of $85 billion in revenue to non-exempt domestic programs for the next 10 years were declared in late March. The housing assistance payment (HAP) standard, which is the federal subsidy allocated to landlords of the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program, has been reduced from a proration of 99 percent to 94 percent. The proration for the operating subsidy of the Public Housing Program – the funds HACEP receives to operate its 46 public housing properties – has been reduced from 92 percent to 77 percent.

Cinco miembros de la familia Rodriguez Soriano que se dedicaban a cobrar derecho de piso a comerciantes de Ciudad Juárez. (El Monetario)

Detienen a familia extorsionadora

CIUDAD JUÁREZ – La Fiscalía General del Estado logró la captura de cinco personas, entre ellas dos mujeres, como presuntos responsables de cobrar el derecho de piso a por lo menos 20 comerciantes de la ciudad. En las denuncias, los afectados después de ser amenazados de muerte pagaban 500 pesos semanales, en hechos ocurridos el pasado viernes en la intersección de la avenida Paseo Triunfo de la República y Lara Leos. Ellos están identificados como los hermanos Miguel, Angélica y Daniel Omar Rodríguez Soriano, de 25, 31 y 21 años de edad, respectivamente, además de Maricela Ruiz Noriega de 25 años y Noé Navarro Olvera de 21 años de edad, quienes reunían de ganancias hasta 20 mil pesos por semana de “cuota”. Los hechos sucedieron después de que una de las víctimas acudiera a interponer la denuncia ante esta representación social, mencionando que tenía seis meses pagando la extorsión, la cual le exigían mediante llamadas telefónicas que recibía del número 656 107 8758, donde lo amenazaban de muerte si no entregaba el dinero cada día viernes. El arresto se dio luego de que el pasado viernes Daniel Omar acudió al negocio a recoger dinero de la extorsión, y al salir del establecimiento lo esperaban sus cómplices Noé Navarro y Angélica Rodríguez a bordo de una camioneta tipo Blazer color rojo, modelo 1994 en la cual pretendían escapar, pero fueron interceptados por los agentes investigadores.

The Cailfornia Beach at sunset. (Courtesy of Stacie Aguilar)

Students spread the gospel on the beach

EL PASO – The Baptist Student Ministries at the University of Texas at El Paso changed venues from South Padre Island to San Diego for its annual spring break mission at the beach this year, but the purpose of the trip remained the same – to talk to people about the gospel while having fun. The BSM is a well-known student organization that has been at UTEP since 1955. They spread the good news and the gospel of Jesus Christ on campus, serve lunch to students every Wednesday, which helps fund the student missions, and every spring break they go on a missionary trip to the beach. For the past five years they have been going to South Padre Island in South Texas on the Gulf of Mexico to help out with other Texas BSM organizations, but this year due to the Texas spring break being the week before UTEP’s, they went to San Diego. “The biggest reason we are going to San Diego is we wanted a change of pace and to expose the students to another part of the country,” said BSM Director Chris Smith.