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.

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Business students compete to advise Borderzine on rebranding effort

EL PASO — Three groups of business students with names like Corporate Eight, Innovation and Crazy Mariachis presented their semester’s project last week to a panel of judges at the College of Business Administration. The students, part of professor Denisse Olivas’ Multicultural Marketing class this semester, were eager to showcase their rebranding projects to their client, The judges included a professional team from Eureka!, a local design and ad company, and two borderzine staff members, Webmaster Lourdes Cueva Chacón and Program Assistant Ángel Cancino.The purpose of the projects was to help the organization get more page views, broaden the target audience and provide suggestions for the redesign of the site. The winning group was Corporate Eight, composed of students Valeria García, Brianda Herrera, Eduardo Perales, Pete Ramirez, Linda Gonzalez, María Chavez, Roxana Cabral, and Carlos Perez.“I think it’s a great opportunity to learn more,” said Brianda Herrera, a senior marketing major and member of the winning group “I think it’s a perfect implementation of our knowledge but also to go out there and research a real company, a real brand, a real magazine.” Olivas said she devised the hands-on project to teach her students the necessary skills that they will need once they entered the professional business world. She was first contacted by Cancino to help with the rebranding project for the website that features student multimedia stories about borders.

Borderzine's director, Zita Arocha, welcomes participants to the 2013 Dow Jones Multimedia Training Academy. (©

Borderzine 2014: Something tells me we’re in for something good

Dear Borderzine friends,

As we begin 2014, I’m delighted to share with you changes and opportunities that are ‘a coming.’ They include a collaborative education-news media venture that builds on the successful McCormick funded Immigration Reporting Institute held at UTEP last fall, as well as a new look and redesign for our website and continuation of two successful grant-funded training workshops. The Dow Jones Multimedia Training Academy for journalism teachers from Hispanic serving colleges returns to the UTEP campus for a fifth year, and Borderzine will host an 11th annual Journalism in July workshop for high school journalists, also supported by the Dow Jones News Fund. We are also excited by plans for Borderzine to provide a weekend of training for local media professionals on how to use digital media production to create journalism content.  Watch for details soon. McCormick Immigration Reporting Institute

Before going into more detail for 2014, I’d like to reflect on the successful Immigration Training Institute for 19 professional journalists and freelancers from the U.S. and the El Paso community.  The journalists (which included two UTEP multimedia journalism students) engaged in hands-on training in how to use research tools for immigration reporting, learned the ins and outs of immigration policies and efforts at reform, took a tour with the Border Patrol and visited the border fence that divides the Anapra community near downtown El Paso. Although the training was important, to me the real impact began after the journalists left town and started writing immigration stories about their hometowns.  Their articles, as well as those written by UTEP students in an investigative reporting class last fall, are being republished in Borderzine.

A group of SRI participants at the border wall in New Mexico. (Angel Cancino/

Journalists file their stories after participating in UTEP’s immigration reporting workshop


EL PASO – Twenty journalists from all regions of the United States gathered at the University of Texas at El Paso this fall to learn strategies and tools for reporting about immigration in their home communities. The workshop, “Reporting Immigration: From the Border to the Heartland,” was sponsored by the McCormick Foundation and Borderzine. Borderzine is proud to re-publish the online, print and broadcast stories that the journalists are reporting from New York, Atlanta, Phoenix, areas of Texas and other parts of the nation. The topics they explore include the deaths of undocumented immigrants on the Texas-Mexico border, increased scrutiny of abuses by immigration agents, growing asylum requests from Mexicans who say they are victims of persecution in their country, immigration enforcement at the El Paso-Ciudad Juarez border, and coverage by U.S. women journalists of the deaths of hundreds of girls and young women in Ciudad Juarez. Their stories, published first in the journalists’ local news outlets, are part of the complex and ongoing story of immigration to the U.S. from Latin America and other parts of the globe.

Amanda Bergson-Shilcock, director of outreach of the Welcome House Pennsylvania interacts with Dr. Richard Pineda from the Communication Department at UTEP and moderator of the panel. (Luis Hernández/

Immigration experts doubt U.S. House will tackle Immigration Reform this year

EL PASO – Advocates, journalists and policy experts joined for a virtual debate to discuss the immigration reform bill on Sept. 28as part of a Specialized Reporting Institute on immigration held at the University of Texas at El Paso. Richard Pineda, associate professor for the UTEP Department of Communication, moderated the panel of immigration experts that included Michelle Mittelstadt, from the Migration Policy Institute,
Susana Flores, communications specialist for Casa de Maryland, Amanda Bergson-Shilcock, from Welcome House Pennsylvania, and Patricia Guadalupe, Capitol Hill correspondent for Hispanic Link. The panelists discussed issues related to the proposed immigration reform bill which was passed this summer by the Senate and is pending in the house. The Senate bill is expected to give a path from temporary status to citizenship for some 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., and will prevent a continued record number of deportations.

Father Bob Mosher, from the Columban Mission Center, Melissa López, from the El Paso Catholic Diocese Center for Immigrant and Refuge Services, Fernando García, director of the Border Network for Human Rights, Katie Anita Hudak, director of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center. (Aaron Montes/

U.S. journalists seek to learn from immigration advocates and get an earful: We didn’t invite you to darles una regañada… but you need to earn back the public’s trust

EL PASO – The American media still has a lot of work to do. It has not fulfilled its responsibility covering the stories of the millions of immigrants that live in the United States, and has not fully challenged the narrative that has dominated the immigration debate for the last decade and a half, a panel of border activists and immigration experts agreed this last weekend. In front of the five panelists, a roomful of journalists listened to their concerns and ideas as part of the first Specialized Reporting Institute on Immigration Reform held in El Paso, TX and sponsored by the McCormick Foundation. The twenty reporters from all over the country and a dozen journalism students sat in silence inside the auditorium of Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe on Sept. 28 as they listened to the concerns of the immigration advocates.

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.

Al Día editor Carbajal – Journalism today must consider language, culture, identity

EL PASO – As a reporter prepares to write an article, he tweets his audiences informing them how the story is going to develop and then rushes to write a short-short piece for online publication. That’s not your old man’s journalism – that’s today’s reporting. “That’s a story, short story, kind of what we call an AP lede. They are just telling us what happened right away. That’s all we need to know,” said Alfredo Carbajal, Editor of Al Día, a weekly Spanish language newspaper in Dallas.

Stemming the strays through Imperial Valley’s S.A.N.D.S.

IMPERIAL VALLEY, Calif.–It is difficult to commute from town to town here without encountering any number of dead animals on or near the roadway on any given day; some motorists swerve around the remains, others seem to deliberately aim at the already-decimated animals—dead pigeons on city streets, rabbits or coyotes on rural roads, and countless other carcasses on the I-8 freeway heading east and west between Arizona and San Diego. But most of the time, the heart-wrenching sight of small furry victims on any local street or major byway are stray dogs or cats whose owners might, or might not be wondering where their pets have gone. “From June to November, 500 dogs were picked up (both alive and dead), 169 cats (both alive and dead),” according to Beatrice Palacio, animal control supervisor for the Imperial County Public Health Department, which is charged with policing a 4,500-square-mile realm outside of the county’s cities’ limits. “Live roosters and chickens, dead raccoons, dead skunks, coyotes, and a live sheep, for a total of 707 animals.” And that’s only what Palacio has been able to log in a five-month period of 2012, unknowing if the animals were abandoned, lost, or feral. Holiday generosity and a bad economy

Usually this time of year animal rights organizations often use statistics like those about stray animals to illustrate to holiday revelers how ill-advised impulsive buys of pets as Christmas gifts can be for recipients who may or may not want a furry or feathered friend; who may or may not know how to care for them, or cannot afford to.