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Guest Opinion: Political Wedge Issues

El Paso Politics - Tue, 02/23/2021 - 7:51am
By: Luis Enrique Miranda, A guest editorial A wedge issue is defined as an issue that drives a literal wedge into a political base, dividing its members. Oftentimes they are social in […]
Categories: Local Blogs

Community Forum for EPISD Board of Trustees

El Paso Politics - Mon, 02/22/2021 - 8:02am
Community Forum for EPISD Board of Trustees Candidates to be held on Saturday, February 27, 2021, from 10 AM to 1 PM. The event will be conducted via a Facebook Livestream in […]
Categories: Local Blogs

Border pandemic travel restrictions create obstacles for patients who get dental care in Mexico

Borderzine - Sat, 02/20/2021 - 5:30pm

CIUDAD JUAREZ — El Pasoans and other U.S. citizens who rely on dentists in Mexico for lower cost dental care face obstacles as COVID-19 travel restrictions remain in place nearly a year later.

The U.S. and Mexican governments in March 2020 limited cross border travel at land ports of entry to “essential reasons” including work, school or medical care. Though dental care is allowed, patients say they face long lines at the border when returning to the U.S. side.

“Before the restrictions that we’re facing now, I used to go like once a month, and they were pretty simple. I would go in come back in an hour, actually,” said Norma Perez, an El Paso patient who crosses into Ciudad Juarez.

“I just got my first appointment last week and it took me four hours to come back, ” said Perez. She’s been seeing a dentist in Mexico for seven years. “I don’t remember the last time the lines were this long” Perez said.

Fewer people are crossing the border, but U.S. Customs and Border Protection also has staffed fewer lanes at ports of entry leading to longer wait times. Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan has said the strategy is to discourage U.S. citizens and legal residents from making non-essential day trips across the border.

Dentists in Mexico have seen a sharp decline in patients from the U.S. who normally cross for lower cost care. “It has changed a lot. There has been a decrease of patients who are American,” Natalia Rivera, a dentist at the Dental Fun clinic in Ciudad Juarez.

Appointments at Dental Fun have dropped by as much as 60% since the pandemic border travel restrictions started according to Rivera.

Despite delays, for some patients the lower cost makes crossing the border for dental care in Mexico worth it.

“The pricing over there is about a quarter of what you pay here and for the same service. So yeah, it is worth it” describes El Paso resident Ana Villegas, who travels to Mexico every month to see Rivera.

Patients like Villegas, who rely on the lower cost care, are growing weary as the travel restrictions remain firmly in place. “I just don’t see like an endpoint to it,” she said.

 

Categories: Local Blogs

What Ted Cruz Did Was Wrong....

Max Powers - Fri, 02/19/2021 - 10:30am
...he should have not cut his vacation short. He should have doubled-down and said, "My parents did not leave Canada for this shit, so fuck you guys, I am staying." I guess he appears tone-deaf to some because he went. But most people just hating cos' they wish they were... Max Powers
Categories: Local Blogs

SEEDS for Change: Learning Without Borders

El Paso News - Thu, 02/18/2021 - 5:20pm
SEEDS for Change, in collaboration with Mount Allison University and Framingham State University, are pleased to host las Krudxs Cubensi, as part of the Learning Without Border Initiative. Please share it among interested parties. Topic: Maternizando lo patriarcado (event in Spanish) Date: Thursday, February 25th, 2021 Time: 2:30pm (Atlantic Time, Canada) Registration is required:  https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJUuc-6orjMiHtd8C1YRVf5LaR38oxVzYBhh About Las… Read More SEEDS for Change: Learning Without Borders
Categories: Local Blogs

Immigration Reform Package Revealed

EPN - Border Analysis - Thu, 02/18/2021 - 1:26pm
Joe Biden promised to unveil a substantial immigration reform legislation package during his first days in office. Today, the Biden administration proposed legislation was unveiled. The House version of the immigration package is sponsored by Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-CA). The Senate version is sponsored by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ). In late January Sánchez announced a… Read More Immigration Reform Package Revealed
Categories: Local Blogs

Beto Wants To Run for Something...Again

Max Powers - Thu, 02/18/2021 - 8:38am
Maybe third's time the charm. And just maybe it might work this time should he run for governor. With Trump - the most popular politician in Texas history based on votes cast - not on the ballot, and it being a mid-term election, Republicans cannot count on the same voters... Max Powers
Categories: Local Blogs

WILL Empower is now recruiting the next generation of activists and apprenticeship host sites in preparation for its Fall 2021 class of apprentices

El Paso News - Thu, 02/18/2021 - 3:48am
The WILL Empower Apprenticeship Program is a paid opportunity for recent college graduates and rank-and-file activists to explore what it’s like to work for the labor and workers’ justice movement, and to gain the skills and knowledge needed to begin making a difference.  The Apprenticeship Program allows movement organizations to invest in the next generation… Read More WILL Empower is now recruiting the next generation of activists and apprenticeship host sites in preparation for its Fall 2021 class of apprentices
Categories: Local Blogs

How I learned to cope when my family was separated by border pandemic restrictions

Borderzine - Tue, 02/16/2021 - 7:02pm

Ciudad Juarez — Since March, the international border has been closed, only allowing essential travel for work, school and medical reasons during the pandemic. The virtual border shutdown has been extended by both the U.S. and Mexican governments each month through February according to the Department of Homeland Security.

The border closure meant my mother, who works in El Paso, had to move to the U.S. side of the border since she didn’t want to have to deal with long lines at the international bridge and the possibility of being turned back even though she was crossing for her job. My mother is in El Paso with my 11-year-old brother while I and my 19-year-old brother live in Juárez.

She sends us money but we miss having her and our youngest brother around. We communicate via WhatsApp by text, calls and video chats. My mother sometimes crosses into Ciudad Juárez to visit and bring us groceries. She misses us as much as we miss her.

Filling the void with gaming

Right before the pandemic, I lost my job and haven’t been able to find another one. I’m a multimedia journalism student at UT El Paso, but because I’m not a U.S citizen, getting another job in El Paso is now harder. And some businesses, especially in Ciudad Juárez, have shut down. My struggle is not unique, Forbes reported that unemployment rates in Mexico were expected to reach 11.7% by the end of the year.

The economic downturn and family separation have been depressing. While quarantining, I turned to a new hobby: video games. I have mostly played The Last of Us and the Uncharted game series, but sometimes play other games such as JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven, Flower and God of War.

A common concern that comes to mind when talking video games is the effect they, may have if there is violent or aggressive content. But research is not conclusive. In 2019, researchers from the University of Limerick in Limerick, Ireland, Yamaha J. Halbrook, Aisling T. O’Donnell and Rachel M. Msetfi published an article in the Perspectives on Psychological Science journal where they argued that the effects of violent video games on aggressive behavior depend on more variables, such as the social and family environments of the people playing.

During the social isolation created by the pandemic, gamers have found a sense of community. Not only have I been playing games with some history in them, but also other, more casual, games that have allowed to interact such as the Among Us game. As I started to become somewhat active on Discord, I connected with other people from other parts of the world and we would call everyone on the server as we played Among Us, sometimes also playing games such as Minecraft or Scribble.

In their 2019 review article, Halbrook, O’Donnell and Mstefi also found that games where social activity is involved, whether playing with other people or where non-player characters interact with the player, can also be beneficial for psychological health as long as the player participates in these games with moderation and for social reasons, not because they’re obsessed with the game (or winning) or because they’re looking for an escape from reality. That’s a relief considering the times we’re currently living in.

Having a pet helps

Samson, a pit bull mix is a devoted companion. Photo by Alexia Carmona Nava.

 

Video games are not the only way for me to cope with the pandemic and the lack of social interaction; My dog Samson, a cinnamon-colored rescued Pit Bull has been a great help too. My uncle trained my dog so he could stay inside the house with me more .

The benefits of companion animals are well documented by research. My dog, in some way, has been my savior, being a comfort during emotionally difficult moments when I felt as if nothing I did had any type of worth.

Gaming has been a way to distract myself from the harsh realities of the pandemic and connect virtually with others and my dog has been an emotional support when I’m feeling mentally vulnerable as I cope with the family separation and isolation created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Categories: Local Blogs

Biden Immigration Reform Package Expected This Week

EPN - Border Analysis - Tue, 02/16/2021 - 8:45am
The Biden administration is expected to officially release its immigration reform package to Congress this week. On Friday, asylum seekers stuck in México under Trump’s Remain in Mexico program are expected to begin trickling into the United States after Biden canceled the policy keeping asylum seekers in México. Joe Biden has committed to making substantial… Read More Biden Immigration Reform Package Expected This Week
Categories: Local Blogs

UMC Open Records About Traveling Nurse Video

El Paso Politics - Tue, 02/16/2021 - 8:38am
On November 7, 2020, Lawanna Rivers, a traveling nurse who worked at the University Medical Center of El Paso (UMC) released a video on Facebook where she alleged that El Paso Covid-19 […]
Categories: Local Blogs

DHS Announces Process to Address Individuals in Mexico with Active MPP Cases

El Paso News - Tue, 02/16/2021 - 3:55am
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Office of Public Affairs DHS Announces Process to Address Individuals in Mexico with Active MPP Cases WASHINGTON – Building on a series of Executive Orders last week, the Biden Administration is announcing another step in our phased strategy to reform the nation’s immigration system. Beginning on February 19, the Department… Read More DHS Announces Process to Address Individuals in Mexico with Active MPP Cases
Categories: Local Blogs

Still clipping along, Estine Davis and her barber shop praised by El Paso’s Black community

Borderzine - Mon, 02/15/2021 - 6:25pm

Estine Davis has been cutting hair in El Paso for almost 70 years, most of it at her barber shop that is the last vestige of what was once a vibrant Black business district.

As she prepared to celebrate her 88th birthday in December, the woman known affectionately as Miss Estine told a reporter she has no plans to retire.

“As long as I make a living from it, I’m going to cut hair,” she said.

To celebrate Miss Estine, a group of friends organized a “Toot and Wave Car Parade” in her honor . The parade began at Shiloh Baptist Church, 3201 Frutas, then made its way to Estine Eastside Barber Shop at 104 N. Piedras.

A video of the birthday celebration for Estine Davis, courtesy of Shiloh Baptist Church.

Ron Stallworth, the author of the best-selling book “Black Klansman,” led the parade. Davis first cut his hair when he was a teenager.

Estine Davis arrives at her barber shop, where she has cut hair for more than 60 years. (Corrie Boudreaux/El Paso Matters)

Entering Estine Eastside Barber Shop is like stepping back in time. Four red barber chairs await customers, although Davis is the only one cutting hair. She’ll set up a television for customers waiting for their cut. A 1950s-era pay phone hangs on the wall.

“Her shop has been a rallying point over the years for people in the Black community,” Stallworth said. “She has customers from all over the country, people who have grown up with her, like I did, and left the city, went on with their careers. And they always come back whenever they have the opportunity.”

Making a life in El Paso

Davis was born in East Texas in 1932 and moved to El Paso when she was 6. Her mother died before the move and her father soon decided to move back to East Texas, leaving Davis and her siblings with family and friends.

Davis was the youngest child. Her family fudged her age so she could immediately go to Douglass School, the school for El Paso Black children during segregation.

“I was told my sister put her age up to 8 and you put your age up to 7. They finally found out, but they didn’t care,” Davis said.

After graduating from Douglass and turning 18, she went to barber school in Tyler, Texas. She returned to El Paso and began cutting hair at Fort Bliss.

What drew her to being a barber? “Nothing, baby. You understand, ain’t no job but money,” she said with a laugh.

Estine Davis’ barber shop on Piedras was considered “Eastside” in the 1950s. (Corrie Boudreaux/El Paso Matters)

Over the decades, Davis has cut the hair of men and women from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds. To her, hair is hair. But her focus has been providing cuts and styling for Black men in a city where African-American barbers are scarce.

She worked for a few years at Fort Bliss, charging $1.50 for a haircut at first. Davis went to work in the mid-1950s for a barber named Sam McKenzie on Piedras Street near Alameda Avenue, in the heart of a thriving commercial area for Black-owned businesses.

“We did real good then until me and him fell out. He called me something and I must have called him another something,” Davis said.

In 1959, she went to work at another barber shop on Piedras near Alameda, which was owned by her godfather, Roscoe Marlin. He and his wife had paid for Davis to go to barber school.

At some point in the mid-1960s — Davis isn’t sure of the exact year — Marlin turned the barber shop over to her.

“He sat right over there in that chair and said, I’m just tired of looking at hair and I’m just tired of hair. I’d rather go out there and cut some grass,” she said.

Running her own businesses

That was the beginning of Estine Eastside Barber Shop. The Piedras-Alameda neighborhood is in what is now Central El Paso, but in the 1950s and ‘60s it was considered to be on the Eastside of the city.

Standing barely 5 feet tall, Davis commanded respect and her barber shop became a hub of the Black community.

Estine Davis answers a call from her son on a rotary phone in her barber shop on Piedras. (Corrie Boudreaux/El Paso Matters)

“You learned so much about what’s going on in the community,” said Dana Pittard, who grew up in El Paso and went on to an Army career that saw him rise to major general and command of Fort Bliss.

And she was never shy about sharing her thoughts.

“She would get personal and say, who you dating these days? And I might mention a name and because the African-American community is so small, it’s like, oh, I know her. She’s no good,”  said Pittard, who now lives in Indiana.

Davis makes no apologies for her persona. “I always have been this way. I say what I feel like. If you don’t like it, I really don’t care.”

Davis also founded Estine Fashion Models and was a driving force for years for the Miss Black El Paso Pageant. Starting in 1982, she entered floats each year in the Sun Bowl Parade.

One area where Davis admits she didn’t have much success was marriage. She said that’s why she devoted so much time to her businesses and community activities.

“I was marrying so much and I sure did get sick of them,” she said with a laugh.

Davis said Judge Woodrow Bean II once told her, “If you get married again, I’m going to tell you right now, I’m going to put you in jail, not them.”

Davis raised two sons, Michael and William. Michael lives in Virginia and helped organize the birthday parade in honor of his mother. William passed away two years ago in El Paso.

Famous customers

For the first half of the 20th century, El Paso’s Black community was concentrated in a neighborhood just east of Downtown. The intersection of Piedras and Alameda served as a commercial hub for the Black community, featuring bars, restaurants, beauticians and barbers.

Davis grew up in that neighborhood. But by the time she took over her godfather’s barber shop in the mid-1960s, El Paso was changing. Schools had desegregated a decade earlier. The construction of Interstate 10 in the early 1960s bisected the city’s historic Black neighborhood, hastening its demise. A growing Black population, largely tied to Fort Bliss, began settling more in the East and Northeast parts of El Paso.

Estine Davis, caught in a flurry of birthday balloons, waves to the parade of family and friends who drove by her barber shop on Dec. 5, 2020 to celebrate her 88th birthday. (Corrie Boudreaux/El Paso Matters)

But Davis’ barber shop continued to be a gathering spot, even as other Black-owned businesses in the old neighborhood closed their doors in the 1970s and 1980s.

“Most of my friends who were African-American at Eastwood went to Estine’s. In fact, you would really see contemporaries from about five different high schools. It would be Eastwood, Bel Air, Burges, Andress, Austin primarily,” said Pittard, the retired Army general who went to high school in the mid-1970s.

Dana Pittard

Davis cut the hair of several players on the 1966 Texas Western College national basketball champions. She did the same for entertainers like Little Richard and the Harlem Globetrotters when they came through town.

Davis also was the barber for numerous El Paso boys like Pittard and Stallworth who went on to great success in life — Greg Allen, now El Paso’s chief of police; Marc Carter, who became a judge in Houston; Nolan Richardson, who went on to be a Hall of Fame college basketball coach.

Pittard got his first haircut from Davis when he was 9. She continued to cut his hair until he graduated from Eastwood High School in 1977 and headed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Davis was his barber “through the whole stage of very short hair in fifth grade to having an afro. She used to have these things called blow-out kits,” Pittard recalled with a chuckle.

He said he always trusted Davis because ”she knows my hair.”

“In fact, when I was going to West Point it was like, well what’s going to happen Miss Davis, you’re not going to be up there. And she said, well, you won’t have anything to worry about because you won’t have any hair.”

Ron Stallworth

Stallworth began going to Davis’ barber shop as a teen in the late 1960s, leaving another barber after his mother agreed to let him pay an extra 25 cents for what he saw as a superior haircut. He was a regular customer until he graduated from Austin High School in 1971 and left El Paso for a 32-year law-enforcement career that included an undercover investigation of the Ku Klux Klan that led to his book and an Oscar-winning movie directed by Spike Lee.

“Whenever I paid a visit to El Paso over the years, I would always stop in and say hi to her and have her cut my hair,” Stallworth said.

He moved back to El Paso four years ago and brought his wife, Patsy, to the barber shop to meet Davis.

“I’m sitting in her chair, she’s cutting my hair, and I made a derogatory remark about a mutual acquaintance of ours. And next thing I felt on the back of my head was Estine’s hand slapping me. And I said, Miss Estine, I’m 63 years old. And she said, I don’t care, you’re still one of my babies and I don’t like you talking like that.”

The future

Davis drives her 2004 Lexus to work five days a week and charges $13 for a basic haircut. She’s active at Shiloh Baptist Church, though a bit miffed because COVID-19 has led the church to scale back activities. She gets together with friends, and sometimes surreptitiously checks in on a rival barber.

“I keep the shop open just to keep my health up. That’s what people got to learn. Money is good, but hell, if you’re in bad shape you can’t even spend it,” Davis said.

Estine Davis will celebrate her 88th birthday this weekend. (Corrie Boudreaux/El Paso Matters)

Her barber shop is the last remaining business from El Paso’s historic Black commercial district. COVID-19 has heavily impacted her business, as customers delay haircuts or forego them altogether.

Her son Michael has asked her to move to Virginia to be closer to him, but she has no interest in leaving El Paso’s desert climate.

“I’m an asthmatic patient and it won’t help me none. I love my son but I love my health,” she explained.

Davis isn’t one for regrets.

“I can say I laugh a lot of times. I can say I cry some times. And I can say all of it was fun, I guess.”

Cover photo: After celebrating her 88th birthday on Dec. 5, Estine Davis returns to cutting hair in her barber shop. (Corrie Boudreaux/El Paso Matters)

This article first appeared on El Paso Matters and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Categories: Local Blogs

Lina Ortega

Max Powers - Mon, 02/15/2021 - 9:39am
Serious question - if Lina Ortega did not show up at all during this legislative session would it matter? This is what? Lina's fourth or third term? Has anyone said, "Hey, before we do anything, let's check with Lina"? Probably not. Why bring her up? Cos' she wrote some really... Max Powers
Categories: Local Blogs

El Paso One of Three Borders To Open For Asylum Seekers

El Paso Politics - Mon, 02/15/2021 - 8:03am
On February 19, 2021, over 65,000 asylum seekers who are stuck in México under the Trump administration’s Remain in Mexico program, will be allowed into the country to make their asylum cases. […]
Categories: Local Blogs

Biden ends ‘Remain in Mexico,’ allowing thousands of migrants to stay in U.S. for asylum cases

Borderzine - Sun, 02/14/2021 - 3:50pm

Migrants trapped in Mexico for more than a year by one of former President Trump’s most controversial policies rejoiced to the news Friday that the Biden administration was ending the so-called Migrant Protection Protocols and allowing people in that program to gradually come to the United States to pursue asylum claims.

“What did we feel when we heard this news? Joy!” said Jorge, a Guatemalan man who’s been in Mexico since July 2019.

“Because after being here so long, with this sickness we have (COVID-19), we don’t have the freedom to go out, it’s ugly here. But to have the news that they are going to start to let us cross to the other side, and to finish our process over there while being with our relatives, it’s a huge joy to know that maybe all this will finally be over. We are very happy, truly,” said Jorge, who has been living in a Juárez shelter and asked that his full name not be used because he fears for his safety.

Migrant Protection Protocols, also known as “remain in Mexico,” began in January 2019 and was part of the Trump administration’s strategy of deterring migrants from coming to the border by making crossings more difficult and more dangerous. Human rights groups said the policy of forcing migrants to stay in Juárez and other dangerous northern Mexican cities was inhumane, subjecting them to kidnappings, attacks, sexual assaults, threats and other cruelty.

“It’s been a very difficult two years. We’ve seen unbearable suffering from the people that we served. From kidnapping victims, rape victims, the most horrific stories, the people that are in remain in Mexico have lived through that. Our big frustration is that this didn’t come down soon enough,” said Linda Rivas, executive director of El Paso’s Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, which has provided services to people in MPP.

The Department of Homeland Security will start allowing the approximately 25,000 people still in MPP with active asylum claims to enter the United States beginning Feb. 19. The Biden administration provided few details about the process of bringing MPP participants into the United States, other than to say it will be “safe and orderly.” The Los Angeles Times reported that they will initially come to the United States through ports of entry in El Paso and Brownsville in Texas and Calexico in California, with only a few hundred people allowed to enter per day.

Fatima, who asked that her full name not be used to protect her family, came to the border from El Salvador almost two years ago with her husband and three children. She is due to have a baby on Feb. 17, before the Biden administration plans to begin allowing MPP participants to enter the United States.

“We felt happiness because finally there will be justice. Because I believe that it was unjust that we have been here so long waiting,” said Fatima, who has been living in a Juárez shelter. “I would have liked the baby to born in the U.S., but I trust that God knows what he’s doing.”

Fatima, a Central American asylum seeker who is expecting a baby girl on Feb. 17, is joyful at learning that individuals in the MPP program will soon be allowed to enter the US as they await their court hearings. Fatima has been in Mexico with her husband and three children for almost two years. (Corrie Boudreaux/El Paso Matters)

Ending MPP fulfills a promise that President Biden made during the 2020 election campaign and restores long-standing practices of allowing people to live in the United States while pursuing asylum claims. But Biden administration officials are wary of sending signals to Central America and elsewhere that could trigger a migration surge similar to that seen in 2018 and 2019. That was reflected in Friday’s announcement of MPP’s demise.

“As President Biden has made clear, the U.S. government is committed to rebuilding a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system,” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said. “This latest action is another step in our commitment to reform immigration policies that do not align with our nation’s values. Especially at the border, however, where capacity constraints remain serious, changes will take time. Individuals who are not eligible under this initial phase should wait for further instructions and not travel to the border.  Due to the current pandemic, restrictions at the border remain in place and will be enforced.”

The announcement on MPP also said “this announcement should not be interpreted as an opening for people to migrate irregularly to the United States.”

People in Migrant Protection Protocols were brought into El Paso immigration court on March 16, 2020. It was the last day MPP hearings were conducted in El Paso because of the pandemic, leaving thousands of people in further uncertainty. (Robert Moore/El Paso Matters)

Most MPP participants allowed into the United States are expected to join family members throughout the United States. Those coming from Juárez may stay in El Paso shelters for a few days while their families arrange transportation.

The Biden administration said MPP participants will be tested for COVID-19 before being allowed to enter the United States, and will be required to wear masks and practice social distancing during processing.

Rivas of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center said she was encouraged by the administration’s orderly approach to bringing people in MPP into the United States.

“This is beginning to restore our asylum system. We should be welcoming people who seek refuge in this country with dignity. This is a good first step but it can’t be the last step,” she said.

Seeking asylum is a legal means of entry into the United States. For much of the world’s population, it is the only legal means open to them.

More than 71,000 migrants were placed in MPP, according to the Transactional Resource Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, which tracks the federal court system. Almost 25,000 of those cases were assigned to El Paso immigration courts, the highest number for any city. Most of those people were sent back to Juárez.

Immigration courts stopped holding hearings in March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving it uncertain when the asylum claims of many migrants would ever be heard.

Before the pandemic, almost 33,000 MPP participants were given what is known as a “removal order,” the first court step toward deportation. Only about 800 of them were represented by a lawyer, a much lower rate than for people who pursue asylum claims while in the United States. Attorneys said it was extraordinarily difficult to connect with potential clients in Mexico, and immigration courts prohibited lawyers from meeting with groups of migrants ahead of hearings to do a basic presentation on their rights.

Tens of thousands of migrants abandoned the asylum process after being forced to remain in Mexico, their advocates have said. An estimated 25,000 people — mostly from Cuba, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — still have active asylum cases through MPP.

In El Paso courts, about 11,000 of the 25,000 people with MPP cases didn’t attend their last scheduled hearing and lost their claims in absentia. About 5,000 attended all their hearings and another 9,000 have never been given a hearing, according to TRAC data.

Attorneys and other advocates have said it is difficult for people to get from shelters and other locations in Juárez to the Paso del Norte Bridge at an appointed time for their hearings. It’s unknown how many people failed to show at court hearings because they were abandoning asylum claims and how many did so because they were unable to get to the bridge on time.

Officials have estimated that about 11,000 MPP participants remain in Juárez.

Corrie Boudreaux, René Kladzyk and Robert Moore contributed to this story.

Cover photo: Jorge, an asylum seeker from Central America living in Juárez, smiles at the news that individuals in the “Remain in Mexico” process will soon be allowed to enter the United States. Jorge and his family fled their country after his wife was almost killed and have been in Mexico since July 2019. (Corrie Boudreaux/El Paso Matters)

This article first appeared on El Paso Matters and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.” data-src=”https://elpasomatters.org/?republication-pixel=true&post=9076&ga=UA-158587614-1″ />

Categories: Local Blogs

Local business in Juarez adapts to border shutdown

Borderzine - Sun, 02/14/2021 - 12:57pm

CIUDAD JUAREZ — Months after the U.S.-Mexico border was closed to all but essential travel as a COVID-19 precaution, small businesses have been forced to find ways to new ways to cope.

“Many of our clients are from El Paso, so at first, they didn’t come as often because the situation was difficult,” said Natalia Briceño, 23, creative director for the nail salon Durazno Claro.

After her two sisters and a cousin opened up the nail salon in June of 2019 in Ciudad Juárez, Briceño joined in September as the business’ demand rose quickly. The salon has customers from both sides of the border, enticing those coming from the U.S. with prices nearly half than what businesses in El Paso charge.

As COVID-19 spread throughout the two cities, it closed its doors in March for three months when the governor of Chihuahua ordered non-essential businesses to close as cases spiked. The border has been closed for Mexican nationals for nearly eight months now.

Since reopening on June 15 for its binational customers, Briceño has been surprised to find people were eager to return to get their nails done. The salon’s appointment schedule quickly filled up.

Even though clients from El Paso face the possibility of longer wait times at international bridges after U.S. Customs and Border Patrol began efforts in August to discourage non-essential travel from Mexico, Durazno Claro has seen an influx of clients from the U.S. side of the border.

“After two, three weeks they slowly started to return. Even a week ago many of our clients came from El Paso,” Briceño said.

In order to keep employees and customers safe, the business now follows strict protocols, like requiring face masks, disinfecting tools more often and having customers step on a sponge mat soaked with disinfectant to kill germs on their shoes. The salon also checks temperatures before customers enter to get their nails done.

“I went back immediately because I was sure they would take the necessary precautions,” said Paola Peña, 23, another customer from El Paso. “I never get nervous when going.”

Even if the business is not considered essential, Briseida Mota, 26, an El Paso resident who crosses the border to get a set of gel nails at Durazno Claro, continues to go on a monthly basis and says she considers the salon’s services essential — but not only for aesthetic purposes.

“I go do my nails once a month and, if I don’t have my nails, actually they start hurting because they have become very thin,” Mota said, noting how the gel is applied in layers in order to thicken the nail.

The business is struggling with another issue caused by the border shutdown. they would buy most of the items they use in El Paso since it was cheaper to buy .

Before the pandemic led to a border shutdown, the salon’s owners crossed the border to purchase tools and supplies.

“There are things we buy from the U.S. and the fact that we cannot cross is complicated,” Briceño said. “It slows down the periods of having to go purchase things and bringing them back here.”

Although they have found deals on the internet, once the border reopens, Briceño said the plan is to keep buying some items online, but said they are desperate to be able to cross in order to avoid waiting for products that are easily bought in bulk in El Paso.

Categories: Local Blogs

Curbside service is NOT “re-opening the libraries!”

El Paso News - Fri, 02/12/2021 - 9:52pm
By Marshall Carter-Tripp We are currently being urged to ask for curbside delivery of a book, to show our interest and support for the libraries. Let’s consider what this might mean.  People with inadequate access to the internet, in many poor neighborhoods of El Paso, are unable to locate books and order them.  And if… Read More Curbside service is NOT “re-opening the libraries!”
Categories: Local Blogs

Photo Essay: In-person church services resume in Ciudad Juárez for the first time since September

Borderzine - Fri, 02/12/2021 - 12:57pm

San Felipe de Jesús parish is one of the many churches that re-opened its doors to the public in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico at the end of January. About 35 people came to the church to celebrate Mass, all respecting social distancing guidelines and wearing masks.

In an attempt to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, the state government of Chihuahua suspended all public religious services in September, the second time since the start of the pandemic last spring. Chihuahua’s restrictions are based on a street-light-inspired system defined by specific indicators, such as hospital bed capacity. When the state transitioned to the color yellow in January, churches were allowed to reopen to the public at 30% capacity and limited to a maximum of 100 people.

The celebration at San Felipe de Jesús was set to begin at 9 a.m., but many arrived half an hour before. Entire families and single adults were seen entering the doors of a place they had only been able to see through a screen for many months, but one thing was certain: they were ready to experience Mass in person again. These images capture what it was like on Sunday, Jan. 24.

Carmen Soledad checks the temperature of mass attendees to ensure no one with a fever enters the temple.

Mariana Chávez pours hand sanitizer on the hands of all attendees before entrance at San Felipe de Jesus parish.

Enrique Luna plays the guitar for the choir at Mass.

Arlene Valdez writes down the lyrics for one of the songs she will sing during Mass as part of the choir.

A single man prays in front of the altar before Mass begins at San Felipe de Jesús parish.

Benches inside the temple at San Felipe de Jesús have signs to designate where attendees can sit in order to respect social distancing.

All attendees are seated in an order that respects social distancing guidelines imposed by the state government of Chihuahua.

Father Juan Carlos Lopez officiates Mass in green attire, which signifies Ordinary Time in the Catholic church.

Father Juan Carlos López makes the consecration in front of about 35 attendees. This is the first time that people are allowed to enter the temple for Mass since September. due to Covid-19 restrictions, in Ciudad Juárez.

Father Juan Carlos López , wearing a mask and a face shield, gives communion to a woman during Mass.

Categories: Local Blogs

Is ICE Expediting Deportations to Stymie Biden?

EPN - Border Analysis - Fri, 02/12/2021 - 7:30am
Recent events suggest that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is attempting to stymie the Biden administration’s attempt to make changes to America’s immigration policies. As the Biden administration was preparing to take office, the Trump administration was signing last minute agreements with some cities and states that forces the Biden administration to consult with the… Read More Is ICE Expediting Deportations to Stymie Biden?
Categories: Local Blogs
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by Dr. Radut