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Updated: 39 min 38 sec ago

How police work for women in El Paso has changed over the years, but still has a ways to go in recruiting

Thu, 05/06/2021 - 11:02am

The history of women on El Paso’s police force dates back to 1913, but much has changed over the years.

“Women were seen more as social workers than police officers because it was a very male-dominated occupation,” said Egbert Zavala, an associate professor in the Criminal Justice Department at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Early police work by women mostly involved looking for runaway girls, making calls on community residents, patrolling the streets and arresting prostitutes.

“There was this idea, back in the day, that males had to deal with dangerous criminals,” Zavala said.

The earliest picture of some of the first policewomen captures Virginia Mendez (left), Ida Newton (middle), and Julia Kate Farnham (right).

According to records with the El Paso County Historical Society, the first policewomen in El Paso appointed in 1913 were Mrs. C.A. Hooper, Mrs. L.P. Jones, and Juliet Barlow. Jones had a background in charity work for the city and Barlow had a professional medical history, working as a nurse in pediatrics. They were responsible for enforcing sanitation laws and conducting arrests for cases of abuse. In 1917, Lola Eighmey was hired and assigned to work as a traveler’s aid for the YWCA at the union depot.

In 1918 positions for policewomen were eliminated in El Paso, but restored again in 1919 when Julia Kate Farnham was appointed, followed by Virginia Mendez who, it was noted, spoke Spanish.

Farnham and Mendez were assigned to work together and patrol the streets. Mendez was known as a “gun-toting, badge-wearing policewoman,” according to the historical society article which also notes Mendez “was said to be tough and as strong as any policeman.”

Virginia Mendez, an El Paso policewoman, wrote what she did for every shift she took up in her logbook. Photo credit: Nicole Lopez

Mendez wrote in her logbook for every shift. In the logbook, which is in the C. L. Sonnichsen Special Collections Department of the UTEP library, most of her notes read “worked on the streets” or “located a runaway girl.”

Farnham experienced similar encounters. In an April 24,1923 article in the El Paso Herald-Post, Farnham talked about how she would always try to help young girls before having to put them in jail. .Farnham said she felt she was more of an influence to these girls than their parents because they “feared her authority.” She said she believed their mothers were too modern and liberal in raising their daughters.

“Because mothers have not been careful in training their daughters, I find the girls reeling as they cross they Juarez bridge at midnight.”

The policewomen positions were eliminated again in 1923. Mendez went on to serve as deputy county probation office and Farnham took up a job as matron at Washington Park. After that position was eliminated she ran the Upson Hotel, a boarding house on Upson Street.

In 1929, Callie Fairley became the first woman police detective, according to a post on the El Paso History Museum’s Digie site, credited to the El Paso Police Department. She was a detective on the vice squad for more than 25 years and was responsible for more than 96% of arrests involving female vice violators from 1929 until her retirement in 1952.

The post said she “was in charge of handling all woman prisoners confined in the city jail and carry out investigations of woman involved in prostitution and other similar offenses.”

In 1942, according to the EPPD’s annual report, the department began a regular advertising campaign encouraging women to apply as full-duty policewomen.

In its 1947 annual report, the EPPD included a section called “Report of Policewoman.” It listed that women officers investigated 352 clinical cases, arrested 44 juveniles and 717 women.

By the 1950s, police departments began to consider women officers for the same work as male officers, according to research published by Carol Archbold, a professor at North Dakota State University, and Dorothy M. Schulz, a professor at the City University of New York, in 2012. That’s when women all over the nation were being assigned to take on more cases besides sexual and domestic crimes.

Although women are now provided with more and more opportunities, the police force in El Paso is still predominantly comprised of male officers. In 2019, 14% of the 1,153 person police force was made up of female officers, according to an annual report released by the EPPD.

There are five regional commands and the specialty unit in the El Paso Police Department, where female officers are distributed throughout each of these sectors.

“When you’re spread out that far, there are not that many females in any one regional command, so we’re still very small in terms of females,” said EPPD Assistant Police Chief Zina Silva.

Silva, the highest ranking woman in the El Paso Police Department, began serving with EPPD in 1995. Originally from New York, Silva moved to El Paso in the early nineties to continue her powerlifting training with a good friend of hers who was living in El Paso at the time. She was looking for a policing position since the late 1980s. The New York Police Department honored her a role to work in the mass transit subway system, but due to a hiring freeze, she wasn’t able to move into city policing there.

After a while, she decided she would try to pursue an official position as a police officer at the El Paso Police Department.

“I knew what I wanted, I knew where I wanted to be, and I knew what I wanted to achieve,” Silva said. “I was on a good path and I had the opportunity to work in several departments.”

As an assistant police chief, Silva is in charge of the strategic planning and auxiliary services bureau, where she is responsible for writing policies and procedures for the departments, implementing software, delegating city council presentations, and works in resource management. Silva is also actively working in other sectors such as victims services, radio communications, and volunteer programs.

Assistant Police Chief, Zina Silva, is assigned to work in the funeral committee to honor fallen officers. Silva wears a special uniform when attending funerals.

Silva touches on the kinds of assignments that El Paso policewomen take on today.

“We have women working in crimes against persons where they’re managing homicides,” Silva said. “The field has completely opened up for anybody that has the talent, the expertise, and the willingness to learn these job assignments.”

Zavala, of UTEP’s criminal justice department, said there are plenty of ways that the police force can encourage more women to join and diversify their field of work.

“We need to have a police chief or a sheriff that go out there and seek those types of applicants out there,” Zavala said.

UTEP criminal justice assistant professor, Caitlyn Muniz, notes that most recruiting positions are male officers, which may also pose another roadblock when it comes to hiring women in the police force.

“There is the greater issue of recruiting and then within that, recruiting women specifically and really getting women involved in a time where the field of law enforcement needs a positive change,” Muniz said.

Categories: Local Blogs

Cross-border romance disrupted, but not defeated by pandemic restrictions on travel

Thu, 05/06/2021 - 9:52am

The cities of El Paso, Texas, and Juarez Mexico are side by side, but to some Borderland couples it seems like they are worlds apart since the pandemic closed the border to all but essential travel.

The U.S. imposed limits on border travel in March 2020 in response to the rising COVID-19 crisis. Only U.S. citizens, permanent residents and those designated as essential travelers can cross. That means no crossing for recreation and tourism to go shopping or visit family and friends.

Love is not considered essential under the travel ban, which makes it hard for cross-border couples like Briana Martinez and her boyfriend, Oswaldo Cuevas, who once freely traveled between cities to stay connected.

“It’s been tough definitely, because the borders are closed. He does have a tourist visa only, so he hasn’t been able to cross since March of last year,” Martinez said.

Martinez and Cuevas met while she was visiting her grandmother in Guanajuato, Mexico. Martinez works as a speech-language pathologist in El Paso and would occasionally visit Cuevas in Guanajuato, Mexico over the span of their 8 year relationship.

In January 2020, Cuevas, a chemical engineer. moved to Juarez to be closer to Martinez. Two months later the pandemic hit.

“When he initially moved here we thought we’d both have the liberty to cross whether he goes to visit me for the weekend or I go to Juarez. So, it’s been tough in that aspect because he hasn’t been able to cross,” Martinez said.

After months being away from each other at the beginning of the pandemic, Martinez began visiting Cuevas in Juarez almost every weekend. She moved to Juarez at the start of the 2021 to live with Cuevas, but found the commute to work in El Paso was too much and moved back to the U.S.

The couple is now engaged and Martinez is buying a home in El Paso, but they aren’t sure when they will be able to get married. Even then, it could take years before Cuevas can legally reside in the U.S.

The pandemic also forced Edith Velazquez of El Paso and Alex Rodriguez of Juarez to rethink their 6-year cross-border relationship.

“I was traveling to Juarez to see my boyfriend, but the pandemic hit and we had to decide whether one of us would move to where the other lived or just stay apart for the time being,” said Velasquez, who met her boyfriend during an outing with friends in Juarez.

They decided to get engaged and plan to get married in Tulum, Mexico, next year when the pandemic has eased. They’re hopeful that Rodriguez will be able to move to El Paso in the future.

 

Categories: Local Blogs

UTEP students eager to celebrate graduation in person after year of pandemic

Wed, 05/05/2021 - 10:05am

After more than a year of remote classes and cancelled graduation ceremonies, students at the University of Texas at El Paso are excited about commencement.

At the end of March 2021, students got the news UTEP would have an in-person ceremony for graduates of the class of 2020 and the class of 2021 at the Sun Bowl Stadium on Friday, May 14 and Saturday, May 15.

The Friday ceremony recognizes bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral graduates and candidates in the colleges of business administration, education and liberal arts. The Saturday ceremony honors graduates and candidates in the colleges of engineering, health sciences and science, and the schools of nursing and pharmacy,” according to the announcement from UTEP Communications.

Many of those who will take part in commencement are the first in their families to graduate from a university.

“I’ve always wanted to walk across the stage and, just you know, have that special moment, saying that I did it and I made it,” said Deante Michelle Sears, a first-generation student.

Sears, 30, earned a bachelor’s degree in education. It’s meaningful for her family because she will be able to find better job opportunities in the future and be a good example for her daughter, Sears said.

Her family lives in Virginia and won’t be able to attend the ceremony because of the cost of last-minute traveling expenses. She says her family is very proud of her accomplishments and she will capture the moment to share with them.

“I’ll have pictures I can send, and I’ll be able to have video that is recorded. So, even if they can’t physically be here to support me and see, they will be able to see me online or through video,” Sears said.

Yomaira Gonzalez, 26, graduated last spring. She earned bachelor’s degree with a double major in psychology and criminal justice. She was disappointed when pandemic restrictions forced UTEP to cancel commencement.

“Last year I was like, it’s finally my moment, I can shine,” Gonzalez said.

Now she’ll attend a the commencement ceremony with the class of 2021. Even though it’s a shared ceremony, she’s excited. She is a first-generation college graduate who wants to make her parents proud, especially her father, who was diagnosed with cancer.

“I want to show him that I actually walked the stage, to see that his daughter actually had the education that he didn’t have. For me is something that I wanted to show him,” Gonzalez said.

Astrid Elsa Barrientos, 23, is also a 2020 graduate attending the commencement ceremony this year.

Barrientos earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and is the first in her family to complete a college education. She also missed her commencement ceremony and is glad that one is happening this year.

“I was really really sad when they postponed it in December because I already have my diploma but it feels more real walking across the stage,” Barrientos said.

Her parents, twin sister and a younger brother will attend commencement. “I’m very proud. Very very proud,” said her mother, Maribel Barrientos. “She strives for the best, and whatever she puts her mind to she gets to it, and that is what I admire about her. And I love that about her.”

 

The university initially announced that each graduating student could only take two guests, but later expanded the number to a total of eight guests per student. The decision was made after carefully reviewing the level of COVID-19 cases in El Paso and the number of students who had confirmed they planned to participate in the ceremonies according to UTEP.

“Our 2020 and Spring 2021 graduates have worked hard to earn their degrees, and their achievements deserve to be celebrated with their loved ones,” said UTEP President Heather Wilson in a statement released by the university.

According to University officials, 3,812 students had sent an RSVP to attend the ceremonies as of April 22.

Social distancing between family groups will be in place and face masks will be required. Hand sanitizing stations will be set up and Sun Bowl seating capacity will not exceed 50%, even if every graduate brings eight guests, according to a recent press release from UTEP.

Students will not have physical contact or shake any hands with anyone as they walk the stage but they will have the opportunity for photos of the proud moment.

Families will watch from the stands, eager to share the milestone that many missed last year and now happily celebrate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Local Blogs

How pandemic anxiety has altered the social lives of young adults

Fri, 04/30/2021 - 11:43am

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way many of us interact now. For one group, the changes in social dynamics come at a critical time in their lives as they navigate early adulthood. Amid managing socially distant lifestyles, 20-somethings are seeing shifts in their relationships – with some drifting apart and others dissolving completely.

“I did lose a handful of friends this year. But now that I look back on it I don’t know if they were really my friends or just acquaintances,” said El Pasoan Brittney Tambeau, 25.

What should be important and life changing years in terms of relationships, networking and an overall transition into adulthood has turned into a much more complicated reality, relationship experts say. With the loosening of lockdown measures in much of the country comes a divide between what to do when your friends want to go out, and how to maintain friendships when daily interaction is confined to a screen.

“The dynamics in relationships have shifted because of COVID, and it’s really hard for people to adjust because it’s still a loss, even if it’s a friendship,” said Ellen Ijabor, a counseling-psychology doctoral candidate at the University of Texas at El Paso. Ijabor works as a mental health practicum intern at CAPS, the university’s counseling and psychological services department.

On top of the disconnect of not being able to have day-to-day interactions, Tambeau said she found she resented acquaintances who were posting on social media about their unsafe escapades of going out to crowded places.

“Clearly we don’t have the same moral compass if they’re just going out all the time,” she said, pointing out one particular acquaintance who documented trips to Disney, Utah, Vegas; even an EDM festival, on social media.

Ijabor said she has already seen increased anxiety, depression and difficulty socializing in many of her clients along with a “how do I say no?” dilemma in respect to going out.

“It’s been a really big conversation with a lot of students of ‘how do I say no? How am I able to set those boundaries when usually I could just go out?’ ” These added stresses and strains on friendships, she says could lead to increased loneliness.

While we live in a very digital age, we are still social beings who need human interaction, Ijabor said.

Even with opportunities to video chat via Facetime, Zoom and other communication apps, staying connected with friends can be a challenge for many young people who are living with their families and may not have their own space to be themselves.

“The way that people would usually have conversations with their friends, or have intimate conversations with their partners, they can’t really do that because they don’t have the privacy to do so,”,Ijabor explained. “So, that’s an additional strain on the relationship.”

However, she says that adaptability is key in trying to navigate these hurdles. “Coping is different for everyone. So, maybe it’s not always going to be staring at a screen, maybe it’s having a phone call or doing things outside safely while social distancing like going for a walk or hiking,” she said.

Clinical psychologist Seth J. Gillihan, wrote in a May 2020 WebMD blog post that navigating friendships during traumatic times takes an extra level of compassion and kindness for what friends may be going through, regardless of if they have extra time or may be posting on social media. In addition, he adds that it is important to adopt compassion for oneself in order to understand the meaning behind feelings of being neglected or left out in friendships.

El Paso Community College student Rikki Gutierrez, 20, said the pandemic has given her a new outlook on how to be a more attentive friend. “We all have busy schedules and everything. But when we come back and talk it’s like nothing has changed,” she said.

Before the pandemic, Gutierrez had plans to transfer to UTEP for in-person classes, travel to Korea and see her favorite band live. Disappointed, but carrying on, she said she realized how important it is to check in with others whose lives have also been disrupted. Even with friends she feels she has drifted apart from.

“We’ve become more open with talking about how we feel and better about being there for each other,” she said. “To move the conversation forward and to make sure we’re doing okay, it’s just become an important part of our relationships.”

 

 

Categories: Local Blogs

Delta-8 gaining interest in Borderland as legal alternative to marijuana products in Texas

Tue, 04/27/2021 - 10:08am

Delta-8 – a legal compound similar to THC from cannabis – has arrived in the Borderland and one CBD shop owner says its popularity is sure to rise among El Paso-area residents seeking to explore its medicinal qualities.

May Leach, owner of Whole Health CBD, says the compound is thought to relieve pain, emotional unrest and produce a slight sense of euphoria. It is marketed in different form such as oils, lotions and even edibles.

And unlike marijuana, it is legal in Texas, Leach said.

Like CBD, short for cannabidoil, Delta-8 comes from the hemp plant and is legal in the Lone Star state after Texas Bill 1325 legalized hemp products in 2019.

Nayeli Granados, 28, an El Pasoan who regularly consumes Delta-8, said she found it gave her more energy. “I was ready to do my work very focused and relaxed. Without any stress.”

Prior to using Delta-8, Granados tried CBD, but now prefers Delta-8.

CBD is widely available, and its products are made from the hemp plant, which makes it legal to consume and sell in Texas, Leach said. The hemp plant might look like a cannabis plant and is related to it, but it will not get users high like the marijuana plant, according to online health magazine, healthline.com.

Leach sells Delta-8 in her store and said Delta-8 can produce a psychoactive reaction, meaning there might be a soft “high” feeling when consuming the product.

THC is the main component associated with a high-like feeling in cannabis products. CBD and THC have the same chemical components, but they have different structures, which makes the reaction of the body to CBD or THC different, researchers said.

Social media, like TikTok or Facebook, are full of reviews on the products. Many users talk about taking Delta-8 for their anxiety and relaxation. There are entire Reddit threads for users exchanging information about how to consume it and reviews of gummies, vapes, or tinctures.

Toni Chops, the owner of Piercing Poli’s, sells both CBD and Delta-8. He said that the federal legalization of marijuana is becoming more of a possibility and hopes that Delta-8 remains legal, but recognizes there are some issues that come with easy access to the products.

“I believe that individuals who abuse products, use them underage, or distribute them to minors, do ruin it for everyone who follows the appropriate laws,” Chops said. The legal age to buy Delta-8 is 21, the same legal age to buy alcohol and cigarettes.

Product labels indicate not to drive while under the influence, just like when drinking alcohol. The consumer must be aware, like full-spectrum CBD, Delta-8 can be detectable in employer drug tests.

Leach said that the hemp product’s chemical components will attach to body fats and stay in the system for 30 days. Drug tests will detect Delta-8 or full-spectrum CBD as marijuana.

“I usually tell my customers right away, that if they are likely to get tested, they maybe should use other CBD products,” she said.

Unlike Delta-8, CBD is available as topical creams, which means CBD can be used to target a specific problem, for example, back pain or joint pains like arthritis. Some research shows that there’s also a potential healing effect of CBD for pets.

El Paso’s history with cannabis products is long. In 1915 was among the first cities in the U.S. to ban marijuana use after a local sheriff pushed the idea that it provoked violent crimes. On June 4, 1915, an El Paso Times article praised the city for taking “a stand against the traffic in marijuana, known to be the deadliest drug on the market.”

Much has changed through the years. El Paso City Council last year approved a “cite-and-release” policy for people found with small amounts of marijuana. Possession of the drug at a Class A or B misdemeanor level will no longer lead to an arrest but a citation, much like a traffic ticket, will be issued.

 

 

Categories: Local Blogs

Artesano batalla durante cierre de la frontera por pandemia

Sat, 04/24/2021 - 1:41pm

Ciudad Juárez — En esta región fronteriza, COVID-19 ha causado un gran impacto económico en centros comerciales, y negocios pequeños.

Los gobiernos de México y Estados Unidos cerraron puentes internacionales en Marzo durante la pandemia. Solo está permitido cruzar por razones esenciales e ir de compras no es una de las razones.

Muchos negocios ubicados en la Avenida Juárez tuvieron que cerrar temporalmente a causa de la pandemia y siguen afectados por restricciones en los puentes internacionales Estos negocios dependen del turismo y clientes que cruzan el Puente Internacional Paso del Norte.

“Afecta mucho a los países de los dos lados pero aquí nos afecta más porque estamos esperanzados en el turismo,” comento Antonio Hernández Camacho, joyero en Avenida Juárez. Por 45 años, se ha dedicado a vender todo tipo de joyas, como anillos, pulseras de plata, collares pero se especializa en arte en metal. Hace llaves con nombre de las personas, corazones, y varias cosas con la segueta.

Su arte lo ha llevado a exponer con éxito en Europa ya que unos años atrás una escritora quedó sorprendida con su trabajo y lo invitó a España. Después siguió recibiendo ofertas de otras ciudades para exponer su arte, incluyendo Boston, Dublin, y Miami.

El señor Camacho tuvo que cerrar por tres meses cuando empezó la pandemia en Marzo y explica que vendió sus llaveros a través de internet. Pero las ventas fueron disminuyendo. “Tenía unos ahorros, porque soy un hombre muy precavido en ese aspecto, pero por mucho dinero que tengas si no trabajas se va a acabar.” explicó Camacho.

Desde que volvió a abrir su joyería, sus ventas no han mejorado como esperaba. “Las ventas bajaron como en un 70%,” dijo Camacho.

Antes de la pandemia y restricciones en los puentes internacionales, “venían muchas personas de los Estados Unidos, de Canadá, de diferentes partes del mundo” dijo Camacho.

a causa de la pandemia en 2020, tuvo que cancelar dos viajes organizados por medio de la Cultura del Arte en México para inaugurar museos en Escocia y Japón.

“Hasta el día de hoy no ha cambiado nada como la gente ha esperado, aún no se sabe hasta cuando vuelvan abrir los puentes internacionales para las personas con visas de turista”, dijo Camacho.

El, como muchos que dependen del flujo de clientes que cruzan la frontera, sigue en limbo. “La pandemia y la crisis económica parece no terminar y lo último que queda es la esperanza para que todo regrese a la normalidad.”

Categories: Local Blogs

Juarez nightlife trying to adapt to changing pandemic conditions

Sat, 04/24/2021 - 1:22pm

The COVID-19 pandemic affected a wide range of businesses during the past year, especially nightclubs in Ciudad Juárez but some businesses found ways to reopen and adapt. Now, they’re faced with a new health order limiting hours and capacity and forcing some to close their doors once again as cases and hospitalizations spike.

Nightclubs and restaurants have looked for ways to stay in business.

“We had to turn everything into e-commerce we tried to sell remotely and reach the customer ourselves, said Pepe Hernandez, a founder of “Punto Unión,” an upscale property with restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.

The months when businesses were forced to close under a health mandate to slow the spread of COVID-19 were difficult.

“The entertainment business ended, so we did it through other brands; we launched a sushi brand, mixology courses, food, and some businesses we turned completely into something new, ” Hernandez said.

“Plaza Portales,” another upscale commercial center that attracts a young crowd with trendy restaurant bars and nightclubs also had shut down at the beginning of the pandemic. But it and other places reopened as restrictions were slowly lifted in Ciudad Juarez.

 

 

Mexico has an “epidemiological traffic light” system that indicates the level of risk and restrictions for business activities. The lights indicate levels range from red, the most restrictive, to green, the least restrictive. While Juarez had been allowed to operate under a yellow light, the rest of the state of Chihuahua was in the orange light category. The lights can fluctuate depending on COVID-19 deaths and infections.

The yellow light level meant many businesses in Ciudad Juarez were operating with health and safety protocols like masks, social distancing, and limited capacity depending on the type of establishment. There were more activities but also many precautions for bars and nightclubs that sell alcohol.

At midnight on April 23rd as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations spiked, State Health authorities ordered a weekend shutdown of non-essential businesses that included restaurants and bars through 6 a.m. Monday. The orange light level is now in effect in Ciudad Juarez forcing bars to shut down. Restaurants can operate at reduced capacity, 30 percent inside and 50 percent outside, and must close by 10 on weeknights and 11:00 pm on weekends

Health protocols were already in effect with many places checking temperatures and ensuring customers have masks on when they arrive. Most businesses also have a floor mat soaked with disinfectant at the entrance people step on before walking into the building. There’s plenty of hand sanitizer available inside and some places use digital menus so that customers don’t have contact with a physical menu.

“Last year, we were open for three months in which we had opened under the yellow traffic light with 30% of the total capacity,” said Marco de la Fuente, director of operations and public relations for Plaza Portales. “It lasted those three months, and then we returned to the traffic light red,” he said.

Bars were allowed to reopen if they also provided food. But under the orange light, some of these businesses were forced to close again. Many restaurants and nightclubs that cut staff as they coped with a drop in sales and uncertainty.

But others moved forward with their plans. During the first weekend of February, a new restaurant-bar called “Panic Botanic” opened.

“It was not going to open until we were on a green traffic light, said Marco. But the owners went ahead “to generate sales and money to pay expenses,” said Marco.

Panic Botanic has been able to attract a clientele eager to try a new place. As customers from Juarez and El Paso ventured out, nightlife on the border was slowly returning.

Categories: Local Blogs

Apply now for 2021 multimedia training academy for Hispanic-Serving Institution college faculty and students

Tue, 04/20/2021 - 10:09pm

Borderzine is now accepting applications from college journalism instructors and students for full scholarships to attend the 11th annual Dow Jones News Fund Multimedia Training Academy at June 5-10. This year the academy will be conducted virtually with participants reporting from their home communities and working closely with skilled trainers on a variety of digital storytelling techniques.

The workshop, based at UT El Paso, has trained more than 100 educators from Hispanic-serving institutions who brought back digital reporting skills to their classrooms. After being postponed in 2020 due to the pandemic, the academy is back in an online format designed to deliver the same unique reporting project experience and power-up journalism education skills.

“We’ve learned so much about teaching and doing journalism from anywhere this year,” said Kate Gannon, Borderzine’s digital content manager, who is director of the academy. “In addition to building a foundation of multimedia skills for attendees, our trainers are eager to share best practices and new techniques that academy participants can bring back to their classrooms or to their work as student journalists.”

This year the program is expanding to include some college students as well as previous faculty participants who are interested in returning to the academy to work on next-level skills.  Previous Multimedia Training Academy attendees are welcome to apply if their institutions have had students accepted into the Dow Jones News Fund College Internship Program.  

“We often hear from participants that they would like to come back to the program to work on something different. Offering a chance to repeat is a reward for those who have been able to help their students be competitive enough to earn a Dow Jones News Fund internship,” Gannon said.

The deadline to apply is has been extended to midnight on Saturday, May 15.

Click on the appropriate link below to apply:

Participants in the academy go out on assignment for a group reporting project and produce multimedia stories that are published in Borderzine.com. The workshop simulates a deadline-oriented, real world newsroom where attendees gain hands-on experience in skills for video, audio and digital photography in news gathering and using editing software in story production. Trainers and mentors provide skills training and coaching throughout the project. You can see some of the most recent stories produced in past sessions under the Multimedia Training Academy section here on Borderzine.

This fast-paced, hands-on academy has a proven track record of helping journalism educators develop their skills and confidence in multimedia journalism production.

“Instructors have told us how much they appreciate getting out into the community and doing real stories with the support of a dedicated trainer,” Gannon said. “They say it helps them have empathy for what their students are going through and gives them the confidence to make their courses challenging because they can draw from their own experience in the field.”

The team of trainers includes Kate Gannon, a professor of practice at UT El Paso and Borderzine’s digital content manager; broadcast TV veteran Andrew Valencia; San Diego State University assistant professor Lourdes Cueva Chacon; radio journalist, Monica Ortiz Uribe; and others.

The Dow Jones News Fund provides the funding for full scholarships to 8 journalism instructors and 4 college students from across the country to attend the academy 

For questions about the Dow Jones News Fund Multimedia Training Academy, contact program director, Kate Gannon at kagannon at utep.edu.

Borderzine is an innovative journalism education initiative and online publishing platform that prepares minority journalists for jobs in 21st century news media, addressing the urgent need for diverse newsrooms that reflect our nation’s complex identity. Since 2008, Borderzine.com has published rich, relevant content about the borderlands produced by multicultural student journalists at UT El Paso and partner schools across the U.S. and Mexico.

The Dow Jones News Fund is a national foundation supported by Dow Jones, Dow Jones Foundation and others within the news industry. The organization’s emphasis is on education for students and educators as part of its mission to promote careers in journalism.

 

Categories: Local Blogs

How one U.S.-based Mexican crafts small business is trying to adapt to supply issues amid the pandemic

Sun, 04/18/2021 - 7:45pm

Dianna Williams-Hefley grew up with one foot on each side of the border. She spent her early years living in the United States, but due to job opportunities for her parents who were teachers, her family moved to Guadalajara, Mexico. That’s where she went to high school.

Williams-Hefley recalls being mesmorized by the art culture she experienced while living in Mexico. Enchanted by the vibrant colors of folk art and the traditional methods used in each handcrafted piece, Williams-Hefley’s appreciation for Mexican artisan work stayed with her even after returning to the U.S.

“I was always trying to figure out someway to get back to Mexico,” Williams-Hefley said. “I loved and had such an appreciation for handmade art.”

This appreciation inspired the El Pasoan in 1993 to open The Desert Gypsy, a now online shop that sells handcrafted art imported from the country.

Business was going well until the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, making international travel complicated amid public health concerns.

“Thank goodness I traveled in January and February last year a lot,” Williams-Hefley said. “I bought enough jewelry for the year, went back to the states, got everything shipped and then boom COVID started.”

Williams-Hefley typically travels to her second home in Guadalajara multiple times a year to shop for art, textiles, pottery and clothing from Mexican artisans in villages around Jalisco. She said she was fortunate to have purchased large amounts of merchandise before March 2020, which was what kept her business afloat in the months that followed.

However, as her stock began to decrease she faced with the decision to either travel back to Mexico in November in order to stay in business, or let go of her shop.

“I think during the pandemic we sometimes take more calculated risks,” said Williams-Hefley, who at 60 years-old falls into a high-risk category for COVID-19. “I just felt it was more important for me to come down here (Mexico), see the artisans, keep my foot in the door with them and let them know I’m still going to be around.”

She said she followed all health safety regulations while traveling, including wearing double masks and quarantining for at least 14 days in her home near Guadalajara. As she travels through the city seeking out the artists and their crafts, the open space of outdoor shopping allows her to social distance while interacting with vendors.

“It’s not been fun,” Williams-Hefley said in a call from Guadalajara. “In Mexico it’s all kisses and hugs and that doesn’t happen anymore. We don’t have much spirit in us.”

Aside from the loss of spirit, business just isn’t the same for Williams-Hefley. With COVID-19 spread throughout Mexico, she said her regular artisans are no longer in business or are unable to travel to the city.

“It really affected the people in Mexico and especially the people of few means like the artists and artisans,” Williams-Hefley said. “They’re producing without selling. There seems to be a lot of merchandise just waiting to be bought.”

According to Jalisco’s government website, Tonala, Jalisco and other towns have offered 1,500 and 1,000 pesos respectively (U.S. $63 and $42) to artisans who have lost employment and business.

“Four thousand indigenous artisans received support of fifteen hundred pesos affected in their economic activity and because it is a priority attention group,” the website reported.

The Jalisco website also states the government is working to help families of artisans affected by COVID-19, through its Plan for Economic Reactivation. The plan includes a section called Reactiva Artesanal, with a 15 million pesos budget that has supported 178 artisans as of today.

Reinicia Artesanas y Artesanos, is another part of the government’s plan, which has a budget of 10 million pesos. As of November the initiative had registered 500 Wixárika artisans from the north.

In Guadalajra, Williams-Hefley is trying to buy as much merchandise as possible to help keep alive her business and that of many artisans.

“So much is lost when the artisans can’t sell,” Williams-Hefely said. “The most significant loss is the family’s generational knowledge may be lost if the artisans have to go elsewhere to find work. The kids who work in the “talleres” are no longer absorbing the family culture of making art.”

 

Categories: Local Blogs

What you need to know about El Paso zoo’s limited reopening and pandemic safety protocols

Sun, 04/18/2021 - 7:22pm

Visitors to El Paso’s recently reopened zoo are getting to meet some new animals that settled in while the zoo was closed for the pandemic.

“The cougars came in as cubs, two little bitty cubs. Now they are full grown cats,” said Zoo Director Joe Montisano.

The popular destination for El Paso families reopened at 50 percent capacity in February. That’s 2,500 visitors a day. Montisano says that he expects the zoo will be operating at 75 percent capacity in a few weeks.

Visitors are required to follow safety protocols when entering the zoo, such as wearing face coverings and social distancing.

“Our main concern is keeping the guest safe, the staff safe, and our animals safe as well,” says Joe Montisano, director of El Paso Zoo.

According to Elpasozoo.org and Montisano, indoor buildings and activities such as the train, carousel, splash pad, and the ropes course will remain closed, as they are almost impossible to clean and disinfect. The train and carousel are expected to be open around Memorial Day or in early June.

The zoo’s Passport Café is closed but visitors can still get a bite to eat at the Grasslands Café, which has limited seating. Guests can also bring their own food and beverages as long as they don’t bring glass containers or straws, which can be harmful to the animals.

Zoo visitor Jose Sotelo appreciates the public health efforts at the facility.

“We should be protecting ourselves, wearing the mask and still using hand sanitizer. I notice some things have been closed but I know it’s for the safety of everybody,” Sotelo said.

The carousel is one of the attractions that remains closed at the El Paso zoo because it is difficult to keep sanitized between rides. Photo by Valeria Armendariz, Borderzine.com.

Montisano recommends visitors wanting the best experience should come early in the day before it gets too crowded.

“People need to come back to the zoo, come see us. It’s a lot of fun, it’s a great place to walk around,” he said.

The zoo is open 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekends. It will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays for cleaning.

For more information about the zoo’s new operation hours and regulations, visit elpasozoo.org.

 

 

Categories: Local Blogs

Application for returning professors for the Dow Jones News Fund Multimedia Training Academy

Sat, 04/17/2021 - 10:03pm

Journalism college instructors and students, please fill out the appropriate form to apply for the 2021 Dow Jones News Fund Multimedia Training Academy, which runs from June 5 – 10, 2021. This virtual workshop will be conducted online.

In an effort to encourage more schools to cultivate students for the Dow Jones News Fund College Internship Program, college faculty who have previously attended the Multimedia Training Academy are welcome to apply to attend again if their institutions have had students accepted into the Dow Jones News Fund internship program.

The Dow Jones News Fund is providing the funding for full scholarships to attend this fast-paced, hands-on multimedia training academy. See more information on the academy here: Apply now for 2021 multimedia training academy for Hispanic-Serving Institution college faculty and students

The deadline to apply has been extended to midnight on Saturday, May 15.

For questions about the Dow Jones Multimedia Training Academy, please contact program director, Kate Gannon,  at kagannon at utep.edu.

DJMTA Previous Attendees Application 2021 Application form for Dow Jones Multimedia Training Academy 2021

  • Name* First Last
  • Email*
  • Work Phone
  • Cell Phone
  • Twitter Handle
  • University or College Name*
  • Department or Program*
  • You are a*
    • Tenured or tenure-track professor
    • Professor of practice
    • Senior or full-time lecturer
    • Part-time lecturer
  • Supervisor's name and title*
  • Supervisor's email address*
  • Does your institution offer Journalism as a major or concentration?*
    • Yes
    • No
  • Does your institution provide instruction in Multimedia Journalism?*
    • Yes
    • No
  • List any form of student-organized media at your institution
  • Do you teach in a computer lab?*
    • Yes
    • No
  • What types of digital technology do your students have access to?*
  • Are your students able to publish their class-produced stories online?*
    • Yes
    • No
  • If yes, what is the url to publication's website?
  • What courses do you plan to teach during the 2021-2022 academic year?*
  • Video editing*Using a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest) rate your level of experience in video editing programs like Adobe Premiere, Final Cut and iMovie
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Audio editing*Using a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest) rate your level of experience in audio editing programs like Adobe Audition, Audacity, ProTools and Hindenburg
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Photo editing*Using a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest) rate your level of experience in professional photo editing programs like Photoshop or Lightroom
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Content management systems (CMS)*Using a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest) rate your level of experience in blogging or website content systems like Wordpress
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Mobile Reporting*Using a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest) rate your level of experience in using mobile tools for reporting, such as livestreaming, audio recording apps, video apps and video editing apps.
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Social Media Tools*Using a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest) RATE YOUR INTEREST in learning more about using social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, etc. for journalism
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Data visualization*Using a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest) RATE YOUR INTEREST in learning more about creating graphics and interactives using tools like Google Maps, Flourish and Tableau to go with digital stories.
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Digital media opportunities*Using a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest) RATE YOUR INTEREST in learning more about digital media innovation, new storytelling styles and collaboration during this workshop
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • 360 video and photo*Using a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest) RATE YOUR INTEREST in learning more about 360 video and photo storytelling during this workshop
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • *When did you attend the Dow Jones News Fund Multimedia Training Academy in El Paso?
  • *What skills have you acquired or expanded on since attending the academy?
  • *Which of your students from your institution have been accepted into the Dow Jones News Fund internship program? (Must include at least one. Can be just the most recent you know of)
  • *What are your interests for this year's training? What next-level skills do you want to return to the academy to work on?
  • *What are some non-technical challenges you currently face?
  • *How do you plan on applying what you learn at the Multimedia Academy at your institution?
  • *Do you have any special requests or concerns regarding your attendance at the Multimedia Academy?
  • Do you have any technical concerns about participating in this workshop (internet issues, using videoconferencing and team communication apps, etc.?)
  • Please upload your Resume*
  • Please upload your multimedia course syllabus
  • If chosen, can you commit to mentor two students from your school to apply for the Dow Jones internship next school year?*
    • Yes
    • No
  • PhoneThis field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
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Categories: Local Blogs

Application for college journalism instructors for the Dow Jones News Fund Multimedia Training Academy (first-time attendees)

Sat, 04/17/2021 - 10:00pm

Journalism college instructors and students, please fill out the appropriate form to apply for the 2021 Dow Jones News Fund Multimedia Training Academy, which runs from June 5 – 10. This will be a virtual workshop conducted online.

The Dow Jones News Fund is providing the funding for full scholarships to attend this fast-paced, hands-on multimedia training academy. See more information on the academy here: Apply now for 2021 multimedia training academy for Hispanic-Serving Institution college faculty and students

The deadline to apply has been extended to midnight on Saturday, May 15.

For questions about the Dow Jones Multimedia Training Academy, please contact program director, Kate Gannon,  via email at kagannon at utep.edu.

DJMTA Application 2021 for first-time attendees Application form for Dow Jones Multimedia Training Academy 2021

  • Name* First Last
  • Email*
  • Work Phone
  • Cell Phone
  • Twitter Handle
  • University or College Name*
  • Department or Program*
  • You are a*
    • Tenured or tenure-track professor
    • Professor of practice
    • Senior or full-time lecturer
    • Part-time lecturer
  • Supervisor's name and title*
  • Supervisor's email address*
  • Does your institution offer Journalism as a major or concentration?*
    • Yes
    • No
  • Does your institution provide instruction in Multimedia Journalism?*
    • Yes
    • No
  • List any form of student-organized media at your institution
  • Do you teach in a computer lab?*
    • Yes
    • No
  • What types of digital technology do your students have access to?*
  • Are your students able to publish their class-produced stories online?*
    • Yes
    • No
  • If yes, what is the url to publication's website?
  • What courses do you plan to teach during the 2020-2021 academic year?*
  • Video editing*Using a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest) rate your level of experience in video editing programs like Adobe Premiere, Final Cut and iMovie
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Audio editing*Using a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest) rate your level of experience in audio editing programs like Adobe Audition, Audacity, ProTools and Hindenburg
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Photo editing*Using a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest) rate your level of experience in professional photo editing programs like Photoshop
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Content management systems (CMS)*Using a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest) rate your level of experience in blogging or website content systems like Wordpress, Tumblr, Squarespace
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Mobile Reporting*Using a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest) rate your level of experience in using mobile tools for reporting, such as livestreaming, audio recording apps, video apps and editing apps.
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Social Media Tools*Using a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest) RATE YOUR INTEREST in learning more about using social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, etc. for journalism
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Data visualization*Using a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest) RATE YOUR INTEREST in learning more about creating graphics and interactives using tools like Maps, Flourish, Timelines and Charts to go with digital stories.
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Digital media opportunities*Using a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest) RATE YOUR INTEREST in learning more about digital media innovation, new storytelling styles and collaboration during this workshop
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • *What other software have you tried or are interested in learning more about? Please explain
  • *What apps or techniques have you tried or are interested in learning more about like Snapchat, Facebook Live, etc.? Please explain
  • *What are some non-technical challenges you currently face?
  • *What are your expectations of this year's multimedia training?
  • *What type of projects are you expecting to produce at the training?
  • *How do you plan on applying what you learn at the Multimedia Academy in your classroom?
  • *What is your motivation for applying to the Academy?
  • *Do you have any special requests or concerns regarding your attendance at the Multimedia Academy?
  • *Are you interested in co-publishing or publishing your students’ stories on Borderzine?
  • *Do you have any experience in communities on the U.S., Mexico border?
  • *Lastly, tell us about a difficult situation in a group setting and how you dealt with it:
  • *Do you have any technical concerns about participating in this workshop (internet issues, using videoconferencing and team communication apps, etc.?)
  • Please upload your Resume*
  • Please upload your multimedia course syllabus
  • If chosen, can you commit to mentor two students from your school to apply for the Dow Jones internship next school year?*
    • Yes
    • No
  • NameThis field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
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Categories: Local Blogs

Application for college journalism students for the 2021 Dow Jones News Fund Multimedia Training Academy

Sat, 04/17/2021 - 9:59pm

Journalism college instructors and students, please fill out the appropriate form to apply for the 2021 Dow Jones News Fund Multimedia Training Academy, which runs from June 5 – 10, 2021. This is a virtual workshop that will be conducted online.

The Dow Jones News Fund is providing the funding for full scholarships to attend this fast-paced, hands-on multimedia training academy. See more information on the academy here: Apply now for 2021 multimedia training academy for Hispanic-Serving Institution college faculty and students

The deadline to apply has been extended to midnight on Saturday, May 15.

For questions about the Dow Jones Multimedia Training Academy, please contact program director, Kate Gannon,  via email at kagannon at utep.edu.

Eligibility

College students and graduate students are eligible to apply for the Dow Jones News Fund Multimedia Training Academy as long as they are currently enrolled during the application period and not graduating before December. Recent graduates are not eligible.

DJMTA STUDENT Application 2021 Application form for Dow Jones Multimedia Training Academy 2021

  • Name* First Last
  • Email*
  • Cell Phone
  • Twitter Handle
  • University or College Name*
  • Department or Program*
  • Your classification (Junior, Senior, etc.)
  • When to you expect to graduate?*
  • Does your institution offer Journalism as a major or concentration?*
    • Yes
    • No
  • Does your institution provide instruction in Multimedia Journalism?*
    • Yes
    • No
  • Briefly tell a bit about yourself and your goals*
  • Do you have any video, audio editing or writing experience? What kind of work have you done?*
  • Do you have any web content management experience (blogs, etc?) Please describe*
  • Video editing*Using a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest) rate your level of experience in video editing programs like Adobe Premiere, Final Cut and iMovie
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Audio editing*Using a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest) rate your level of experience in audio editing programs like Adobe Audition, Audacity, ProTools and Hindenburg
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Photo editing*Using a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest) rate your level of experience in professional photo editing programs like Photoshop or Lightroom
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Content management systems (CMS)*Using a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest) rate your level of experience in blogging or website content systems like Wordpress
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Mobile Reporting*Using a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest) rate your level of experience in using mobile tools for reporting, such as livestreaming, audio recording apps, video apps and live coverage on social media.
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Social Media Tools*Using a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest) rate your interest in learning more about using social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. for journalism
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Data visualization*Using a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest) rate your interest in learning more about creating graphics and interactives using tools like Google Maps, Flourish and Tableau to go with digital stories.
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Digital media Entrepreneurship*Using a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest) rate your interest in learning more about digital media innovation and new business models during this workshop
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • 360 video and photo*Using a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest) rate your interest in learning more about 360 video and photo storytelling during this workshop
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • *Please share a recent accomplishment (personal or professional) that you are proud of
  • *Do you have any special requests or concerns regarding your participation in the Multimedia Academy?
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?
  • Please upload your Resume*
  • Upload a letter of recommendation from your professor*
  • Upload your essay here*Upload a short essay telling us about yourself, your motivation for attending the academy and why you are a good candidate to be selected for the project. File should be a Word document.
  • NameThis field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
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Categories: Local Blogs

Women’s empowerment group – Mija, Yes you can – spreads kindness during pandemic

Sat, 04/17/2021 - 5:53pm

EL PASO, Texas – Maria Contreras sits inside a dark room with a news channel on the TV in the background. The 92-year-old mother of three and resident of SunRidge at Cielo Vista sits in her wheelchair with her orange cat, Tiger.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, she hasn’t seen her children for the past 11 months except for her son Raul Contreras. Contreras parks his black pickup truck outside her window, sits in a comfortable folding chair with an umbrella and chats with her using a monitor similar to a walkie talkie.

Maria Contreras sees her son, Raul Contreras, through the window of her assisting-living quarters at SunRidge Senior Living. The two are able to talk using an intercom device. This photo was taken following social distance guidelines and other CDC safety protocol under the guidance of SunRidge staff. Photo credit: Karina Arguelles

As she was with her son’s visit, the facility’s staff, Ricky Posada, surprised her with her with care package from the organization Mija, Yes you can. The packages lifts her spirits and shows someone cares. She smiles when Ricky walks in.

“Me siento muy feliz. Gracias a todos por contribuir” (“I feel really happy, thank you to everyone who contributed”), Maria said about receiving the unexpected care package.

Maria suffers from a recent hip fracture where she fell. She was hospitalized for three months. Without a chance of being in the comfort of her room or be allowed to have visitors, Maria has had to experience these challenging times alone. Because of her and other seniors, organizers of a new community group called “Mija, Yes you can” thought these residents would benefit the most with a warm and cozy care package.

“We realized that the most affected and vulnerable population throughout this pandemic were the elderly, specifically the elderly in assisted-living facilities and nursing homes,” said Melissa Rivas, events chair for the organization.

Mija, Yes you can is a local nonprofit organization funded by Iris Lopez, with the goal to empower women and their community. During the course of the pandemic, the organization has helped El Paso residents by donating food to families in need, school supplies to children, and raising funds to help other organizations.

“Because of the pandemic, many of them have gone without any sort of social interaction or visits from their families. And although the intention is to keep them safe, the isolation is devastating and lonely. As humans, the majority of our life purpose is through the relationships and interactions we have with others,” Rivas said.

Despite launching the project, called “Un abrazo” or a hug in Spanish, organization leaders hope it becomes an annual event.

“We decided to start small just to see what our turnout would be, and we got a pretty good response. With more time next year, maybe we could adopt more assisted living facilities or nursing homes,” Rivas said.

With the participation of the community along with other donations, such as blankets and socks, the organization was able to create 72 care packages to cover all of the senior residents at the SunRidge facility.

“With the chaos of the pandemic and everyday life, it is so easy to be consumed in all of it, but also easy to forget how important it is to slow down and be mindful of those who may have no support system or access to connect with their loved ones,” Rivas said.

The care packages include a ‘Mas Amor Por Favor’ T-shirt, blankets, socks, and a Valentine’s Day Card. Seniors were surprised with the care packages delivered by the staff.

“Oh, my goodness you have made my Valentine’s Day!” said 82-year-old Sheila Katz, a SunRidge resident turned off the TV to welcome the staff walking toward her with the care package. As Sheila pulled out piece by piece, she smiled as she touched the safety patches below a pair of socks, “These are lovely gifts, and I’ll put them to good use.”

Oscar Hernandez hugs his Mija, Yes you can care package. Photo credit: Karina Arguelles

Oscar Hernandez, 86-year-old, originally from Havana, said he is proud of being part of an environment that nurtures seniors with with love: “Estoy muy contento de estar en este lugar donde veo que nos cuidan cada dia, cada segundo,” or in English, “I’m really happy of being in a place where I see that they take care of us every day every second.”

 

Categories: Local Blogs

Familias fronterizas continúan lidiando con la ansiedad de que surja una emergencia cuando los cruces siguen limitados

Fri, 04/16/2021 - 1:31pm

CIUDAD JUAREZ — Desde el 21 de Marzo, 2020, los cruces en la frontera de Estados Unidos y México han sido limitados para viajes esenciales por la pandemia.

Esto ha prevenido que la gente que solía cruzar en algunos casos diariamente visite a su familia, creando preocupaciones cuando surgen emergencias.

Mario Eduardo Morales, 44, se encontró en un predicamento cuando los doctores encontraron un brote en el párpado de su hijo de un año y le informaron que tendrían que operarlo.

“Fue la razón por la que yo intente solicitar el pase de humanidad, para ir a estar con él,” dijo Morales.

El único problema es que su esposa vive en El Paso y el en Ciudad Juárez, ya que cada uno trabaja en su respectiva ciudad. Aunque trató de pedir permiso en los puentes fronterizos, no pudo cruzar para acompañar a su hijo o ayudar a su esposa a cuidar a sus otras dos hijas.

Los agentes de Aduanas y Protección Fronteriza, U.S. Customs and Border Protection en inglés, dijeron que pidiera permiso para cruzar la frontera el mismo día que operarían a su hijo, solo para después negarle la entrada, diciéndole que no era urgencia ya que su esposa podría asistir la operación.

“Dijo, no pues, no es una razón de urgencia y no me dejaron. No me dejaron pasar”, dijo Morales.

Marta Rivera, 48, se tomo una foto con su madre de 78 años cuando la visito en Febrero, 2020. Un mes después, la administración de Presidente Trump puso restricciones en la frontera de Estados Unidos y México. Photo credit: Cortesia

Para personas como Morales y Marta Rivera, 48, esta espera es causa de mucha ansiedad e incertidumbre.

Rivera, quien vive en Ciudad Juárez, intentó varias veces pedir permiso para cruzar la frontera en Julio para volar hacia Los Ángeles, California, ya que su madre de 78 años, la cual tiene cáncer, iba a tener cirugía cardiaca. Después de alrededor de dos días, los agentes de CBP le otorgaron el permiso en el Puente Internacional Córdova-Las Américas.

“Para ese entonces ya me habían hablado en la noche y me decían que mi mama ya no era, no iba a ser muy seguro que yo la alcanzara”, dijo Rivera. “Fue una noticia que me tenía más preocupada”.

Llegó justo después de la operación de su madre y los doctores le informaron que estaba estable, pero que también se había contagiado de COVID-19. No pudo ver a su mamá y tuvo que regresar a México.

Hasta que se vuelvan a abrir las fronteras, Morales y Rivera dicen que tendrán la preocupación de que vuelva a suceder una emergencia y batallen de nuevo en conseguir entrar a los Estados Unidos.

“Esperamos ya que en este mes que viene puedan abrir los puentes para los que estamos viviendo en Juárez y tenemos familiares en El Paso poder verlos, estar con ellos”, dijo Morales.

 

Categories: Local Blogs

Vendedores de El Bronco Swap Meet y Ascarate Flea Market tratan de sobrevivir la pandemia y la crisis económica

Sat, 04/10/2021 - 2:03pm

Dos de los mercados más populares en El Paso tratan de mantenerse a flote durante la pandemia.

Las puertas de El Bronco Swap Meet se encuentran cerradas y vendedores esperan la noticia por parte de los dueños de cuando podrán volver a operar. Por otro lado, Ascarate Flea Market abrió de nuevo después de dos meses de no operar al inicio de la pandemia.

Ropa semi nueva, juguetes, verduras, antigüedades, artículos de limpieza, cubre bocas y comida son solo algunas de las cosas que los paseños pueden encontrar en dos de los mercados.

No hay una respuesta concreta de cuando el Bronco volver a abrir sus puertas para compradores y vendedores. Photo credit: Maria Ramos Pacheco

El Bronco tiene sus puertas cerradas debido a falta de autorización de la ciudad para operar.

“Nos ha afectado bastante, como mucha gente venia de Juárez y hacían aquí sus compras, pues ya no vienen, también como la gente no se quiere juntar, porque no quieren agarrar el virus, todo esto afecta mucho”, dice David Muñoz.

Muñoz trabaja en construcción entre semana y los fines de semana dedica su tiempo a manejar el negocio de ropa a su mamá que se encuentra al costado derecho de El Bronco. El negocio de la familia Muñoz se ha visto drásticamente afectado desde que El Bronco cerro.

David Muñoz y su hijo atiende el negocio de su mamá los fines de semana, este se encuentra a un lado de el Bronco. Photo credit: Maria Ramos Pacheco

El cierre parcial de la frontera que se estableció en marzo del 2020, limitando el acceso a personas de Ciudad Juárez ha tenido un impacto en la economía de El Paso. Esta ley continua en efecto y los comerciantes se han visto afectado por esta orden del gobierno federal en los Estados Unidos.

Para poder continuar obteniendo un ingreso, algunos vendedores optaron por colocar su mercancía en el estacionamiento de la plaza donde se encuentra El Bronco. Muñoz comento que esto solo sucedió un par de fines de semana, hasta que la ciudad no les permitió vender más en el estacionamiento.

“La ciudad esta exigiendo que saquen permisos, y van (los dueños de el Bronco) y se los niegan, así que a como veo las cosas, no veo nada cerca”, Muñoz dice.

Rafael Alarcón, tiene más de 30 años vendiendo cosas nuevas y semi nuevas en su local que se encuentra a unos 200 metros de El Bronco.

“A todos nos afecta, porque es una forma de distraerse, de quitarse el estrés, y a toda la gente le ha afectado que este cerrado El Bronco”, Alarcón dice. “Con la pandemia, la gente no trae dinero y pues no vienen a comprar.”

No hay planes concretos de fecha de reapertura de El Bronco. Los vendedores piden que la ciudad los apoye y les de una fecha para volver a trabajar.

“La ciudad no ayuda a los negocios, son pocos los negocios que hay y luego los están cerrando, depende uno del negocio. Dependemos de que la ciudad deje a la gente que se pongan a vender”, Alarcón dice.

Rotulo en la entrada principal de Ascarate Market, sin embargo no hay alguna autoridad o persona que se encargue que todo el que entre use cubre bocas. Photo credit: Maria Ramos Pacheco

Ascarate Market

Mientras las puertas de El Bronco se encuentran cerradas, el Ascarate Market recibe compradores los fines de semana. En marzo y abril del 2020 el mercado estuvo cerrado, fue hasta mayo que se abrieron de nuevo las puertas para los vendedores y compradores.

Francisco González, vendedor de inciensos y porta inciensos que el mismo hace solía vender en El Bronco, sin embargo desde enero vende sus productos en Ascarate Market.

“Me vine para acá, por que el Bronco esta cerrado y aquí hay mucha gente, aquí si puedo vender mis cosas”, González dice.

Personas de todas las edades acuden los fines de semana a Ascarate Market. Photo credit: Maria Ramos Pacheco

Vendedores de Ascarate Market sienten que las ventas están subiendo poco a poco pero aun así aseguran que no será igual hasta que se abra la frontera.

“Al principio nos afecto porque la gente no quería salir, ya ahora se ve mas gente. Duro dos meses cerrado el mercado”, dice María Mata, vendedora en Ascarate Market. “Cuando lo abrieron la gente no quería venir, estaba muy solo, ya ahorita se ve normal pero hacen falta los de Juárez.”

Venta de frutas y verduras en Ascarate Market son unas de los productos populares. Photo credit: Maria Ramos Pacheco

Mata, tiene 10 años vendiendo en este mercado. Antes de la pandemia vendía ropa nueva y semi nueva. Desde que comenzó la pandemia le dio un giro a sus ventas, ahora vende productos de limpieza, vitaminas y cubre bocas.

En las entradas de Ascarate Market, se encuentran rótulos que dicen “cubre bocas requerido antes de entrar”, sin embargo no hay nadie en las puertas asegurándose que los compradores y vendedores hagan uso de las mascarillas.

Compradores pueden encontrar todo tipo de artículos en Ascarate Market. Photo credit: Maria Ramos Pacheco

Dora García, vendedora por cinco años en Ascarate Market de productos de belleza y vitaminas, no esta de acuerdo en que el uso de cubre bocas no sea cumpla. García dice que no toda la gente usa la mascarilla mientras visitan el mercado.

“No realmente, mucha gente anda sin mascara, y mucha gente tose y estornuda para todos lados, creo que la gente no tiene conciencia”, García dice.

Los dueños de Ascarate Market fueron contactados varias veces por Borderzine para ser entrevistados, no se obtuvo respuesta.

El Bronco y Ascarate Market son la fuente principal de ingresos de muchos de los vendedores. Como cualquier otro negocio en El Paso afectado por la pandemia y la crisis económica vendedores de Ascarate Market esperan que las cosas vuelvas a la normalidad pronto para fortalecer sus ventas de una forma que no comprometa su salud.

 

Categories: Local Blogs

Artists reflect Segundo Barrio pride in south El Paso mural

Sat, 04/10/2021 - 12:23pm

EL PASO — Three artists who grew up in the Segundo Barrio collaborated to create the mural “Quinto Sol- The Rebirth,” in south El Paso.

Francisco Delgado, Francisco Camacho, and Bobby Lerma united to paint the mural to inspire children from the neighborhood with memorable artwork.

“I believe that it was destined to be on that wall. Everything felt in the right place, at the right time, with the right people, with people who have a good heart, with people that care about the community, and with people who have a strong incomparable love to the neighborhood,” Lerma said.

Delgado calls himself a “bordeño,” an artist whose artwork is a mashup of being a Chicano and a “fronterizo.” It focuses on social and political issues in the borderland. He has painted numerous murals, including the popular “Sagrado Corazón,” or Sacred Heart which is also located in the Segundo Barrio neighborhood.

Camacho’s artwork is influenced by graffiti and hip pop and he incorporates it with Chicano and pop art.

The design features an Aztec with bright jade-colored feathers and Segundo Barrio written in big white letters. According to the artists, the mural is designed to inspire pride, hope, and “ganas,” or drive, to the people of the Segundo during these difficult pandemic times.

The mural at Seventh Ave. and Florence St. reflects neighborhoods roots. The Aztec figure’s skin color is light brown to represent the people of the barrio. The ear spools represent a child’s progression in the community. The tongue’s piercings and tattoos honor the elderly and their families according to the artists.

The jade colored feathers represent the brightly colored headdresses made from the Quetzal bird ‘s feathers and worn by Aztec leaders, like Moctezuma. “Of course, the feathers mean a little more because the neighborhood is where you develop,” Lerma said.

The artists finished the mural in December 2020 and it was a Christmas gift for the people of the Segundo Barrio.

“It’s something that is going to outlive us, way beyond our time. This project was more than just us. It’s for the community. It was for them to walk by, to take pictures, and to admire it,” Camacho said.

“Quinto Sol-The Rebirth” mural is located at Florence St. and Seventh Ave. in front of the Marcos B. Armijo Community Center building. Photo by Victoria Rivas, Borderzine.com

The pandemic has also allowed the artists to focus and spend more time on their individual artwork after their gallery exhibitions and other projects were canceled.

“I could either be sad about it, or I could just keep creating. I think this slowed down everything for me so that I could continue creating. I still did some things in my studio. This was possible because of it, the mural,” Delgado said.

Both Delgado and Camacho also sell their pieces to anyone interested in collecting their designs. “Anything and everything is for sale. I love creating artwork for myself, to begin with, but I love it when somebody else likes that art and if they are willing to buy it or willing to ask for a print. Everything is available,” Camacho said.

Lerma had to shut down the Segundo Barrio Apparel Company he runs for a couple of months because of the pandemic. During that time, he digitized his designs and created more items to sell featuring artwork. It’s now reopened on Saturdays.

The artists see the mural as their gift to the neighborhood. “Now it belongs to the people,” Delgado said. “They own it, and it’s posted right there, Segundo Barrio.

Rich in culture, history, and tradition, the mural also represents the hope of a new generation.

“We’re still here, times have changed, but the community and the barrio still continue to flourish. So, the rebirth is there, and it’s part of what the mural stands for,” Camacho said.

 

Categories: Local Blogs

‘Pasadores’ serve as personal shoppers for border dwellers who can’t cross amid pandemic

Tue, 04/06/2021 - 10:22am

CIUDAD JUAREZ — Before border pandemic travel restrictions, shoppers from Mexico crossed daily. But during the pandemic more been forced to turn to others to get the products they want or need from the U.S. side of the border.

For more than a year, the border between the U.S. and Mexico has been closed to all non-essential travel in an attempt to stop the spread of Covid-19. Some U.S. citizens and legal residents are still going back and forth because the authorities can’t keep them from returning home from Mexico.

Mexican citizens with border crossing cards or visas though are only allowed to visit the U.S. for reasons that are essential including work, school or medical appointments. Shopping is not considered on the essential list.

Those who can rely on friends or relatives to but others are turning to passadores or cruzadores, U.S. citizens or legal residents who can cross back and forth and will shop for others in Juarez for a fee.

“A month after crossings were restricted I began crossing again and doing favors for friends,” said Samantha Camacho. She’s a U.S. citizen and University of Texas at El Paso student.

Camacho saw a business opportunity and after making several trips for her friends, she realized a lot of people needed someone who could buy groceries from stores like Walmart and Sam’s Club.

Hot Cheetos, sweets, cereal, laundry detergent, and milk are among the items that shoppers insist on buying in El Paso through “pasadores” not only because certain items are only available in the U.S., but also because some things are cheaper and, according to Mexican shoppers better quality and taste.

Even though it all started as favors from one friend to another, she later began to charge a fee for every trip. The fee, she says, depends on the number of products she picks up and their size, but it’s usually around five and 15 dollars.

“I was spending on gas and sometimes I would only cross for that, so I told them the fee was to cover gas and for doing them the favor, because I was using my time,” Camacho said.

Camacho has a job caring for the elderly El Pasoans, but the money she makes shopping for others has been an important source of additional income since the hours at her job were cut because of the pandemic. Although the fees she charges don’t make up for the portion of the salary she lost, the extra income helps pay for gas.

She also makes money picking up packages sent to P.O. boxes in El Paso. That remains the top errand she runs for Juarez residents.

The border pandemic travel restrictions benefited her economically, but she wants them lifted as soon as possible even if it means losing extra income.

“They were good to stop the spread of the virus, but I would definitely not want the border to be closed forever,” Camacho said.

Pamela Quevedo is another entrepreneur who started an online shop when the pandemic restricted border crossings.

The 18-year-old architecture student in Juárez created “Whim-is” using Facebook and Instagram to sells products from the U.S.

“Anything you can find in the U.S. I can bring it to Mexico,” Quevedo said.

Quevedo is not a U.S. citizen, so she cannot cross the border to buy the products available in her shop herself, but she relies on her friends and family that can cross to supply her business. She sells the products in Juárez, with available shipping for customers anywhere in Mexico.

Quevedo was inspired to create her shop after she repeatedly asked her friends for favors to get what she needed from El Paso.

Thinking there must be many like her in Juárez,who want certain products from the U.S. but cannot get them she stocked up on popular items. including snacks.

Her bestsellers are snacks, with Flaming Hot Cheetos topping the list. She showcases those snacks on on different social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, and even TikTok.

Conscious that after the border reopens her online shop “Whim-is” will not be needed as much in this Mexican border city, Quevedo plans to move her business to another city.

“I hope to open a physical shop in Chihuahua and to deliver everywhere in Mexico,” Quevedo said.

With no clear answer for when the border will open to non-essential travel again, entrepreneurs and “pasadores” deliver a taste of normalcy for clients in Mexico. Even during the pandemic the fluidity of the border has not come to a halt. Borderlanders, Fronterizos, always find a way to adapt.

 

Categories: Local Blogs

Pandemic inspires Borderlanders to launch home-based online businesses

Tue, 04/06/2021 - 9:55am

Borderlanders with creative skills and a bit of time on their hands because of the pandemic have launched online businesses to sell their crafts and other creative products.

Arely Villa Reyes, a psychology student at the Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad of Juárez started selling skirts, handkerchiefs and berets in June on social media web such as Instagram.

“Just like little by little I’ve been progressing and adding new stuff. I feel like the business has been fruitful,” Villa Reyes said.

Her Instagram business page, Chicle y Pega, has more than 1,000 followers. Villa Reyes attributes her business growth to her dedication since promoting a business on a social media platform requires a great deal of time and commitment. She wasn’t expecting to be so successful.

Villa Reyes started her business as a distraction during the pandemic and to make an income and experience being independent. Additionally, she wanted to keep herself occupied to maintain her mental health, she said.

“The main reason I opened my business was because of the pandemic. It wasn’t something that I thought of before,” Villa Reyes said. “Everything started because I wanted to learn about being independent and because in the middle of the pandemic the fact of with mental health affects our minds was very sad.”

Reyes has learned to manage her time wisely in order to keep up the productivity of her business, she said.

“The difference with Chicle y Pega is that I get to work from home, I can take my online classes, I eat here, I get to sleep, and manage all of my time,” Villa Reyes said.

Arely Villa Reyes uses mall parking lots as pick-up spots to meet with her customers to deliver products she’s sold online. Photo credit: Valeria Armendariz

Reyes only offers delivery at no cost in certain areas in Ciudad Juárez, but is planning on adding national shipping at the request of customers.

“I don’t do shipping yet, but I’m thinking about doing it soon,” Villa Reyes said.

From hobby to small business

Samantha Gomez, a UTEP student, created Specks of Joy, her online shop, selling handmade polymer clay earrings in October through Instagram and Etsy.

Gomez started her online shop because of free time while El Paso was under restrictions due to the pandemic.

“I always was into crafting, different hobbies I would catch on to, and then with the pandemic, I had a lot of extra time so I decided to just take the lead and try to actually sell one of the crafts that I do for once,” Gomez said.

Gomez sets aside time for merchandise updates on her Instagram page once a month because of the time constraints of going to school.

“It definitely does get difficult if you’re a student for sure, and you also have another job,” Gomez said. “But I do… like I have two days off, so one of those two days I specifically will make myself time to play around with clay and make the earrings, and then in the rest of my spare time that’s when I’ll assemble them, send them down, and box them, and stuff like that.”

Gomez’s business has slowly started to pay off, and she is planning to incorporate new items, like soy candles, into her online shop.

Gomez advises anyone interested in opening an online business to take the risk and express themselves through their products.

“Open an online business, but don’t rush into it,” Gomez said. “I would say, set up a budget and don’t make, kind of unrealistic goals. So, don’t feel like you have to have official labeling, business cards, as long as you’re showing that you care about what you’re selling, people will buy it.”

 

Categories: Local Blogs

Border travel restrictions in Detroit and El Paso show the uneven impacts of COVID-19

Fri, 03/19/2021 - 12:52pm

By René Kladzyk / El Paso Matters Nathaly Gonzalez crosses from El Paso to Ciudad Juárez a couple times a week. She brings groceries to her grandparents — they prefer the bulk foods sold on the U.S. side. She visits her brother and takes her dog to the vet.

Gonzalez and her mother are dual U.S.-Mexican citizens and live in El Paso; her brother and grandparents are Mexican citizens and live in Ciudad Juárez.

Things have changed significantly for Gonzalez and her family since the COVID-19 travel restrictions went into effect on March 21, 2020, but she still crosses with ease, regardless of whether her reasons for crossing could be defined as “essential.”

“I’ve rarely had any issues with (Customs and Border Protection),” Gonzalez said.  “And then crossing from El Paso to Juárez nobody really asks you anything. … I think my situation is very common here in El Paso.”

Nathaly Gonzalez drives through the security gate in the Juárez neighborhood where her brother lives. Gonzalez crosses the border into Juárez to see family members and deliver goods that they used to buy in El Paso before the border restrictions began a year ago. (Corrie Boudreaux/El Paso Matters)

The COVID-19 border travel restrictions have only been partly enforced on the southern border of the United States. For Mexican nationals with tourist visas, like Gonzalez’s brother, the border has been effectively closed. But for U.S. passport-holders, although travel is technically restricted to “essential” purposes, “non-essential” crossing has continued with minimal obstruction. 

In Detroit, 1,700 miles from El Paso, border crossing enforcement at the port of entry into Canada has been a wholly different story.

“Canada’s just been much more aggressive and much more conservative regarding the border during the pandemic than the U.S. has,” said Laurie Trautman, director of the Border Policy Research Institute at Western Washington University.

This more stringent approach by Canada has resulted in starkly different numbers for the reduction of border crossings between northern and southern United States ports of entry over the past year. While border crossings for pedestrians, passenger vehicles, and buses at the Canadian border were lowered by between 91% and 99% last year, on the Mexico border they lowered by a far smaller margin: between 35% and 68% depending on the type of crossing.

“Our approach is uniform at both borders,” said Roger Maier, spokesperson for Customs and Border Protection, noting that the travel restrictions are in place in order to “fight the spread of COVID.”

Although enforcement has been applied evenly by the United States, differential approaches by Canada and Mexico carry profound implications for U.S. border communities: economically, culturally and in terms of infectious disease.

The rationale for the border closure

In March 2020 the Department of Homeland Security announced that “in order to limit the further spread of coronavirus, the U.S. has reached agreements with both Canada and Mexico to limit all non-essential travel across borders.” Since then, the travel restrictions have been extended month after month over the past year.

Gonzalez said she thinks the border should have reopened by now, noting how hard it is for mixed-citizenship families like hers. When asked whether she thinks COVID-19 travel restrictions were worth it, she said “maybe at first, but not anymore.”

Some research has indicated that although border travel restrictions were effective in the early days of the pandemic (particularly when coupled with rigorous additional methods like testing, contact tracing, and quarantining), they became less effective over time.

“In three years, five years, when we do a post-mortem of COVID wins and losses, there’s going to be a lot of controversy as to, did our targeted interventions actually achieve the desired outcomes?” said Dr. Ogechika Alozie, an infectious disease specialist and El Paso physician.

Uneven COVID-19 severity among border communities

Looking at differential enforcement of border travel restrictions may offer insight into the drivers of infection rates in border communities, Alozie said.

El Paso-Juárez and Detroit-Windsor have some similarities as parallel high-population border metropolises, but had vastly different COVID-19 outbreak severity this past year.

El Paso and Detroit are the number one and number two least racially diverse cities in the United States, both with minority racial and ethnic populations in the majority. Both cities have median incomes well below the national average, and poverty rates well above the national average. Both El Paso County and Wayne County also have high levels of social vulnerability, according to the Center for Disease Control’s Social Vulnerability Index, which measures a community’s ability to mitigate suffering and economic loss during a disaster.

Wayne County is the most populous county in Michigan; its county seat is the city of Detroit.

Total COVID-19 cases were 150 percent higher on a per capita basis in El Paso County than in Wayne County, and total COVID-19 deaths were 20 percent higher. This is a simplified comparison because Detroit is a multi-county urban area. However, because Wayne County had a more severe COVID-19 toll than other suburban counties in Detroit, the discrepancy in overall COVID-19 severity between the two border communities is likely even greater.

“There seems to be an association between the lack of reduction in border traffic and the fact that we just had much more cases and deaths than the comparative city that’s also sitting on the border such as Detroit,” Alozie said. “It’s not causal — you can’t say one led to the other — but there does seem to be a clear data association when Detroit was having 95-99% reduction in traffic and here in El Paso it was only 60 to 70%.”

The potential mitigation of COVID-19 spread among border communities made the travel restrictions worth it, even if it wasn’t a 100% stopgap, said Eduardo Herrera, secretary of health for the Mexican state of Chihuahua.

“We do know that very great damage has been caused to the economy, but decisions had to be made to control the pandemic. And both Juárez and El Paso had the highest rates of infection of the virus, much stronger than other cities throughout the United States and throughout Mexico,” Herrera said.

The economic impact of border restrictions

The way that border travel restrictions affected the local economies of border communities was also uneven, largely tied to the ways the restrictions were enforced.

“The networks are reacting in totally different ways between the two sides,” Francesco Cappellano said, noting that Mexican border cities have been able to be more economically resilient to the COVID-19 border travel restrictions.

Cappellano, a researcher at the University of Eastern Finland, has been conducting research since 2017 comparing border communities of the San Diego/Tijuana region with the Washington State/ British Columbia region.

He said that varying pandemic responses by the three nations on a spectrum of strictness to laxness (Canada being the most stringent, the U.S. in the middle with an “ambivalent attitude,” and Mexico the most relaxed), has meant that the pressures of the border closure are experienced differently by different border communities.

The Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, is one of the busiest land border crossings in the United States, accounting for 27 percent of the $400 billion in annual trade between the United States and Canada. (Laura Finlay/Special to El Paso Matters)

For El Paso and Juárez, Cappellano’s assessment that the Mexican side is more economically resilient holds true, said Eduardo Ramos, president of Juárez’s combined chambers of commerce.

“The main victims of this are El Paso owners of commerce. Because El Paso depends (on shoppers) from Mexico,” Ramos said, explaining that the same is not true in reverse. “Juárez is more resilient than El Paso.”

Ramos said that he has observed few business closures during the pandemic, and emphasized that sales around Christmastime in Juárez were better this year than they had been in past years.

In El Paso, total small business revenues decreased by 32 percent when comparing March 2021 to January 2020, and 25 percent of small businesses closed during the same period, according to Track the Recovery.

Tom Fullerton, economics professor at the University of Texas at El Paso, agreed that the economic impacts of the border travel restrictions have been far more detrimental for El Paso than Juárez.

“It is a lot easier for U.S. citizens to cross the bridge since they’re not being stopped and questioned as they go into Mexico, so they’re probably still buying close to the same amount of items in Juárez that always would, but it’s not happening in the reverse direction,” Fullerton said.

“As a consequence of that, we’re probably observing one, a higher rate of business closures in El Paso; two, a higher rate of retail space vacancies; and three, lower rents per square foot for commercial real estate.”

A sign in southwest Detroit points toward the port of entry into Canada. (Laura Finlay/Special to El Paso Matters)

Other economic impacts of the border travel restrictions will be difficult to measure, said Bill Anderson, director of the Cross-Border Institute in Windsor, Canada.

The deterioration of in-person business relationships and what that will mean for cross-border economic trust is a big issue, he said.

“The relationship here on this border is kind of personal. People know each other, they talk to each other a lot, they physically go back and forth across the border. And being separated for that long, it just seems to me it’s gonna have some sort of effect in the long-term in terms of the intensity of the economic relationship, that degree of integration across the border,” Anderson said.

Like El Paso-Juárez, the sister cities of Detroit and Windsor also have extensive manufacturing sectors, particularly connected to the automotive industry. Detroit-Windsor and El Paso-Juárez are also interconnected on this supply chain, with some Detroit-based companies expanding production to factories in border communities like El Paso-Juárez.

The incalculable toll on cross-border families

The cross-border patterns of Nathaly Gonzalez and her family are far from unique in El Paso-Juárez.

“It’s just normal,” Dania Gobea said, referring to frequent border crossing between El Paso and Juárez among families and friend groups. Gobea is currently a student at UTEP, but lives in Juárez. As a student, she has an “essential” purpose for continuing to cross, but said she has still had difficulties with CBP agents at the bridge because she is a Mexican citizen.

“It’s (more) normal for people in El Paso to come easily (to Juárez), than us to go in El Paso because they ask us questions when we go there,” she said.

Hugo Gonzalez reaches out to help his sister, Nathaly, with the bags she has brought from El Paso to his home in Juárez. Hugo, a Mexican national with a tourist visa, has not been able to shop or visit family in El Paso in a year. (Corrie Boudreaux/El Paso Matters)

Anderson said the Detroit-Windsor area also has a significant amount of families that are spread out across both sides of the border, particularly among the area’s large Middle Eastern immigrant population. 

“One of the things that binds Detroit and Windsor together is the Middle Eastern community–  particularly the Arab community, and you know they always say about Detroit, ‘the largest Arab population outside the Middle East,’ and the biggest immigrant group in Windsor is Lebanese,” Anderson said, noting that many Arab and Lebanese families in the area have family members on both sides of the border.

Shoppers enter Al-Haramain International Food in Hamtramck, Michigan. Hamtramck, a municipality located within the city of Detroit, is an enclave of diverse immigrant populations. In 2015, the city appointed the first Muslim-majority city council in the U.S. (Laura Finlay/Special to El Paso Matters)

Canada has implemented border travel restriction exemptions for extended family members and “compassionate” reasons, for example in the case of a dying friend or a significant other who is a Canadian citizen. Although these enable some U.S. citizens under certain circumstances to travel to Canada for “non-essential” reasons, they are nonetheless reflective of the far greater limitations for crossing the northern border of the United States, as compared to the southern border.

“Another major difference between the two borders is Canada’s two-week quarantine requirement, which obviously Mexico doesn’t have, so that’s huge,” said Laurie Trautman, from the Border Policy Research Institute.

“I know a lot of people whose kids or parents live in Canada — they would technically be allowed to cross because they’re immediate family, but they’re supposed to quarantine for two weeks, so that in and of itself severely limits cross-border travel even from people that are able to go,” she said.

In that sense, familial barriers of the border closure are applied more stringently on the northern border than the southern border.

Nonetheless, border travel restrictions are acutely felt by families in El Paso-Juárez, even if enforcement of the restrictions is one-sided.

“If it was blocked both ways I have no idea what we would do,” Gonzalez said, describing all the ways her family has adapted because not everyone can cross freely.

“I just wish the borders were open,” she said. “There’s a lot of implications of closing the border, especially here. And I think they should be able to open now.”

UPDATE: On Thursday, after this story was published, Mexico announced that it would begin enforcing a restriction on non-essential travel across its northern and southern borders.

Cover photo: Vehicles line up on Avenida Juárez at the foot of the Paso del Norte International Bridge on March 10. Despite COVID-19 travel restrictions, thousands of people cross each day between El Paso and Ciudad Juárez. (Corrie Boudreaux/El Paso Matters)

This story was produced as part of the Puente News Collaborative, a binational partnership of news organizations in Ciudad Juárez and El Paso.
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by Dr. Radut