Pope Francis’ compassion encourages gay Catholics to celebrate his presence on the border

One El Pasoan who is super excited by Pope Francis’ visit this week to Juarez, is 19-year-old UTEP student Gilbert Lopez, a practicing Catholic who is gay. He credits this pope and his compassionate words and attitude toward homosexuals for motivating him to come out as a gay teenager. “When I was not accepting of my sexuality, when I would come in contact with homosexuals, it was either you’re religious or you’re not,” said Lopez, who considers himself a devout Catholic and is a member of his church choir. “A lot of times people who are homosexual aren’t religious because of the way people talk about it. They get discouraged,” he said.

Volunteers practice linking to form human wall for pope's visit

Thousands of El Pasoans, Juarenses link up to create human chain along pope’s route

JUAREZ — El Paso resident Rafael Sañedo, 21, drove cautiously down several Juarez city streets on a recent Sunday as he headed toward San Lorenzo Plaza to rehearse his part in the 25-mile-long human chain that will greet Pope Frances when he arrives in Juarez Wednesday to deliver a historic Mass at the old Juarez Fairgrounds, called El Punto. “Juarez has changed a lot throughout the years,” said Sañedo, a pet store employee, who has not crossed an international bridge from his home in El Paso into Ciudad Juarez for the last decade. The last time he visited Juarez was to see his grandmother before she died. “She was the only reason why we even came, so after she passed away there was no reason for me to come back,” he said. Several weeks ago Sañedo had a change of heart when, after attending Mass at Saint Mark Catholic Church in east El Paso, he heard an announcement asking for volunteers to help form a human wall, referred to as lLa Valla.

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Borderzine redesign reaches out to Border Life readers across all platforms

The 6-year-old online Border Life magazine, Borderzine, crosses another milestone this month with a redesign, enhanced digital features and visuals to better reflect its mission to publish rich relevant content about the borderlands by multicultural student journalists. A few of the exciting changes include a responsive design that allows readers to easily navigate across computer platforms and mobile devices, an updated logo, new story categories covering “Immigration and Fronteras” and “Diversity and Ideas” as well as a snazzier portfolio page to showcase the multimedia journalism of our student reporters. Here are some highlights of what we’ve added:

 At the core of the new Borderzine.com is the responsive web design, which makes the site look good across computer platforms and on mobile devices.  We’ve updated our look with a fresh, new logo inspired by the sunrise over a Southwest landscape – the vibrant glow of a new dawn in multicultural America.  New category sections on the home page showcase our unique and varied content.

Obama, Republicans fail to advance hopes on immigration reform

By Aaron Montes

WASHINGTON, D.C. – When President Barack Obama delivered the fifth State of the Union address of his presidency, he dedicated just three sentences to immigration reform. Not once did he mention the contributions or needs of Latinos, nor did he touch on his administration’s handling of deportations. Most of his proposals won applause from Democratic members while the majority of the Republican Party sat in silence. They did the same when the president said “…and fix our broken immigration system.”

On Jan. 30, the house GOP released its immigration requirements: more border security, implemented entry-exit visa tracking and employment verification systems and no special path to citizenship.

A young man struggles to rebuild his life after Juarez gunmen murder his father

EL PASO — Norberto Lee’s tranquil life was abruptly struck with tragedy when his father was shot and killed by masked gunmen in front of their place of business in Juarez after he refused to pay protection money to gangsters. For months his father had been receiving phone calls demanding payoffs. “The calls began after my dad arrived from a trip, but he only told one of my brothers who then told my mom and then she told me. I told the rest of my siblings and we thought it was best for him to come to El Paso,” said Lee. His father came to stay in El Paso for 10 days but felt uneasy and was unable to stay any longer.

Juárez business finds new life across the border

EL PASO – Drug-war violence has crippled the economy of Cd. Juárez sending many business owners packing along with their customers, to the safer sister city across the border. El Paso has become the beneficiary of that middle-class migration since the criminal activity began to escalate in 2008. Ke’ Flauta, for example, a restaurant in west El Paso, is one of many businesses that has fled from its original location in Juárez.  “Unfortunately, Juárez has gotten hit very badly with the violence. The economy is greatly affected and there are scary threats from extortionists against businesses all the time,” said Raul Aguilar, owner of Ke’ Flauta.

Businesses abandon a troubled Juárez as they follow customers to El Paso

Editor’s Note – This is another in a continuing series of Borderzine articles on the migration to the U.S. of Mexican middle-class professionals and business owners as a result of the drug-war violence along the border.  We call this transfer of people and resources, the largest since the Mexican Revolution, the Mexodus. EL PASO — With a black apron around his waist and a headset on his head, the expatriated Mexican teenager places the payment for a lunch meal in the cash-register just as the drive-through starts beeping to place the next order. “When my dad came here we didn’t had any money, no money at all,” said Jose Antonio Argueta, Jr., 19. “Me and my sister had to pay everything, the house, the cars everything we had.” With a serious tone, Argueta tells how his family struggled to establish their restaurant Burritos Tony here. “My dad started working at minimum wage earning maybe like two hundred a week.”

Argueta has been working at Burritos Tony for more than a year.