The gradual rebirth of Downtown El Paso’s historic buildings

When people think of history in El Paso, Texas, they’re likely to dwell on the city’s unique relationship with Juarez, and rightly so. But it’s hard for folks to miss the real historical monuments sprinkled around this border town, even if they aren’t aware of them. They just have to look up. Henry Charles Trost died in 1933 but his legacy still proudly stands in the form of some of the 73 buildings he and his brothers designed in the borderland, dating back to 1903. Structures by Trost and Trost have housed the fabric of the community, including groceries, hotels, schools, houses of worship, department stores and more.

Borderland support builds for tech startups

El Paso – once known for its thriving garment industry which eventually crashed because of globalization – is on its way to becoming a smaller version of Silicon Valley, if some tech enthusiasts have their way. Tech accelerators and incubators – businesses that offer El Paso’s 20-plus start-ups a place to work, meet and sometimes funding – are being built to help new firms on their way to becoming the next high-tech success story. One area where the incubators – led by highly educated chief executives, some with doctoral degrees from prestigious universities and a wealth of experience garnered elsewhere – is helping entrepreneurs is in the medical field. Julio Rincon, principal owner of MipTek, based out of the facilities at the MCA Innovation Center, is a biomedical engineer and is working on finding remedies to medical maladies, taking science to the market place. “We find applications by making sure someone wants to buy this,” Rincon said.

Central El Paso’s Manhattan Heights and Five Points neighborhood revitalization fuels new vibe

Over the last five years, the Manhattan Heights neighborhood and Five Points business district have seen an influx of new businesses and young professionals, creating a new vibe in this historic Central El Paso area. Susie Byrd,a longtime Manhattan Heights resident and former District 2 City Council Representative, has lived in this historic area since she was in second grade. “These two city blocks were boarded up,” she reflected of the Five Points business district. “Maybe there was like a couple of salons. Not this kind of energy around the core of Five Points development.”

All that is changing as new businesses, such as bars, grills, a yoga studio and now an Ace Hardware Store, are opening in the area.

On the wake of Pancho Villa’s 140th birthday, three women wage a battle against gentrification in El Paso’s oldest neighborhood

In September of last year, Romelia Mendoza, one of the two remaining residents on Chihuahua Street, woke up to the sound of demolition crews tearing down the historic buildings next to her home in El Paso’s downtown. “For a second I thought it was an earthquake,” said Mendoza. Antonia “Toñita” Morales, 90, has lived in the neighborhood since 1965. She said she did not hear the bulldozers because she is hard of hearing, but finally awoke to the sound of Mendoza crying hysterically and banging on her door. The two panicked women rushed to try to stop the work, which had begun despite a court order prohibiting the teardown.

12 Journalism professors selected for Dow Jones Multimedia Training Academy 2018

Twelve journalism instructors from U.S. Hispanic Serving Institutions will travel to the U.S., Mexico border region to participate in the ninth annual Dow Jones News Fund Multimedia Training Academy in June at the University of Texas in El Paso. Thanks to a grant provided by the Dow Jones News Fund, Borderzine organizes this annual workshop training geared to multimedia journalism instructors who teach in institutions with a large minority population. Here is a list of the 12 instructors who were chosen and their institutions:

Daniel Evans, Florida International University
Mary Jo Shafer, Northern Essex Community College
Lillian Agosto-Maldonado, Universidad del Sagrado Corazon
Julie Patel Liss, Fullerton College
Nicole Perez Morris, Texas A&M-Kingsville
Kelly Kauffhold, Texas State University
Sara V. Platt, University of Puerto Rico
Geoffrey Campbell, UT Arlington
Jesus Ayala, Cal State Fullerton
Lorena Figueroa, El Paso Community College
Darren Phillips, New Mexico State University
Dino Chiecchi, UT El Paso

The week-long multimedia-journalism academy has a proven track record of eight successful years helping journalism educators acquire a new skills in digital storytelling that they can use to help prepare prepare the next generation of Latino college journalists. “The trainers at the academy understand what educators need to learn about new and emerging technologies to better prepare their students for the fast-changing future” said Linda Shockley, Deputy Director of Dow Jones News Fund. “This quality of instruction at absolutely no cost to participants and their universities is priceless.”
The goal of this experience is to learn and practice news reporting using a variety of digital equipment, software programs and platforms. Participating instructors are expected to translate this learning into training for their students, making them more competitive in the media industry.

Sanctuary is in the fabric of El Paso, not the label

By John M. Gonzales and Alex Hinojosa
There are 118 so-called “sanctuary cities in the United States, but applying the term to El Paso is like calling Texas a little bit country. With one in four city residents living a bi-national life to manage and work in Mexican factories across the border, traffic snakes bumper-to-bumper every day through checkpoints from neighboring Ciudad Juarez. Twenty-five percent of residents are immigrants — with an estimated 3 percent of the state’s unauthorized immigrants Texas-wide residing in El Paso County. Yet, like other jurisdictions that inherited the sanctuary city tag originally used by immigration control groups to create an image of blanket refuge, El Paso is being told to uphold a law that strikes to the core of its identity. “We’re allowing D.C., and sometimes Austin, to dictate what border policy should be,” said David Saucedo, a mayoral candidate who is pitted against the more politically experienced Dee Margo in a June 10 runoff.

Border Patrol ride along gets real when migrant family appears

by Jennifer Thomas

On paper it sounded like the perfect assignment:  spend a day along the U.S. Mexican border with members of the El Paso sector of the U.S. Border Patrol as part of the Dow Jones News Fund Multimedia Journalism Training Academy at UT El Paso.  Off we went – cameras, notepads and audio equipment in hand.  It was hot. 100 degrees. Most of us, have in the least read about, if not reported in some way, the border between the two countries, and the migrants who try to cross illegally into the U.S.  What we were not prepared for, was to see an apprehension first hand. 

U.S. Border Patrol agent Oscar Cervantes and Joe Reyes served as our guides. Cervantes has been a border agent for more than eight years.  Reyes – more than fourteen.  

We visited a portion of the 16-foot steel, eight-mile-long fencing that separates Colonia Anapra in Mexico and the village of Sunland Park, New Mexico.  The structure has been in place since 2007. “It only takes seconds or minutes to blend into the community,” Cervantes explained.   

The El Paso Sector encompasses all of the state of New Mexico and the western tip of Texas, and is one of nine sectors along the Southwest Border of the country.  There are 19,000 agents covering more than 250 miles of international border.  The section of the border is covered 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but Cervantes insists the fence is not meant anyone out.

College grad in limbo after ICE roundup reveals secret, splits family

By Sylvia Ulloa

Jeff Taborda lives in a faded green trailer in an old but neatly kept motor home community in north Las Cruces. Taborda,23, graduated in December from New Mexico State University with a degree in criminal justice, with ambitions to go into law enforcement and eventually join the FBI. He is lean and muscular, working out regularly with his younger brother, Steven. The home Taborda shares with his girlfriend is sparsely furnished, clean dishes in a rack in the sink. “As soon as I eat, I do the dishes,” he told visitors on a recent hot afternoon.

Security, trade, family bind both sides of border

By Pam Frederick

From the roof of the commercial customs lanes at the US-Mexico border in El Paso, TX, a line of trucks four lanes wide stretches beyond sight into the Mexican city of Juárez. A similar line of cars inch along, idling for hours, towards the Bridge of the Americas, one of 10 border crossings in the region. The view makes one point perfectly clear: free trade between the US and Mexico is not ending anytime soon. And no one around these parts knows that better than local business owners. “We build everything together,” says Miriam Kotkowski, the owner of Omega Trucking located just three miles from the border crossing at Santa Teresa, N.M. Her father started his business in New Mexico 50 years ago, crossing cattle.

A newly arrived Cuban migrant fills out paperwork in El Paso.

El Paso social services respond to Cuban refugee surge

Cuban refugees continue to seek asylum in the U.S., traveling from Juarez, Mexico to El Paso for a third straight week, with many staying in El Paso longer than expected, which could strain local organizations that traditionally provide services such as food, shelter and legal advice to immigrants. Elizabeth O’Hara, communications director of Catholic Diocese of El Paso, said about 300 Cuban migrants have been arriving each day since May 9 for a total of about 3,000 in the last three weeks. “Some of them will stay 24-36 hours, but now we’re seeing some of them staying longer,” O’Hara said, adding that the first wave of refugees seemed to be better off financially. “Most of the first ones to arrive had money left so they could bounce out of El Paso faster.”

That seems to be the case as well at the Ysleta Lutheran Mission, which is housing up to 80 refugees at a time. Karla Gonzalez, Ysleta’s chief operating officer, said most immigrants will just pass through El Paso on the way to family or friends in other parts of the country.