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Updated: 2 min 48 sec ago

Retired Marine turned survival instructor teaches El Pasoans to depend on themselves

Sat, 11/02/2019 - 2:43pm

How long would you last if you didn’t have easy access to food, water and electricity? Retired Marine Alfred Legler knows many city dwellers aren’t prepared for when a disaster may strike. That’s why he began teaching classes to help El Pasoans learn basic survival skills.

“A lot of people have never been out of the city. They don’t know how to hunt, they don’t know how to fish, they can’t look down on the ground and identify what kind of plant is edible, what kind of plant might have some medicinal use. Everything is just immediate gratification of going to the store and obtaining medicine or something to eat or something to drink,” Legler said.

He’s been organizing outings through his Meetup group called Bona Fide Survival, which is “designed for adults, teens, and youth interested in learning and enhancing knowledge and concepts in wilderness survival, self-reliance, prepping, and primitive skills,” the group description says.

Participants learn about building makeshift shelters, cordage making, bow making, foraging, making traps for hunting and fishing, as well as basic flintknapping techniques to shape arrowheads out of rock.

Alfred Legler teaches the proper technique to use a bow drill for firestarting. Photo credit: Aaron Martinez

In one recent outing at a city park, Legler set up a controlled environment for participants to work on primitive firemaking. They practiced techniques using a traditional hand drill and a bow drill, along with flint and steel.

“Put some more pressure and a little bit more speed,” Legler told one student with a bow drill.

“You got it,” Legler said as thick smoke came from the wood. The student, who said he had never started a fire with anything but matches or lighters, appeared happy to see a small pile of black ash with a glowing orange ember in the middle indicating his labor was successful.

Alfred Legler shows his students how to use a traditional hand drill for firestarting. Photo credit: Aaron Martinez

The main target audience for his survival classes is “the average Joe living in the house across from us,” Legler said.

“People that live in the city probably need the skills the most because they’re not adept at anything other than city living,” he explained.

A plus side Legler finds to teaching the classes is that it helps him refine his own skills. The skills are very perishable, he said, so the key to learning them and keeping them is to practice often – which his classes allow him to do.

Alfred Legler uses a hunting knife to carve a new slot in a piece of wood used to start fires with a hand drill or bow drill. Photo credit: Aaron Martinez

Even though he was in the Marines, Legler said his survival skills didn’t come from his time in the military.

“A lot of what you learn in the military is conventional warfare type stuff,” he said.

Most of his survival and self-reliance skills came from his parents and great grandparents who shared lessons learned in the Great Depression, when millions of Americans learned to live with few resources. And also from his mother’s family who fought in the French Resistance in World War II

“They fought the Nazis there however they could and they didn’t have anything. I always grew up under their wing and they’ve always taught me to be self-prepared and not to rely on anyone for anything,” he said.

Legler believes survival skills are just as important today as they were then.

“If you turn on the news any given minute, what do you hear? Constant feed of negative information, you know, war, death, famine,” Legler said.

Most Americans, including El Pasoans, have never experienced real hunger and are accustomed to having their necessities close by.

“You can go to the supermarket and all your needs, everything you could possibly ever want is there,” he said. “But what happens if there is some type of incident where the trucks stop delivering food? What are you going to do at that point?”

Across the United States, the average household’s nearest supermarket is 2.19 miles away, research by the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows. According to a report by CNA, a nonprofit research and analysis organization located in Arlington, VA., grocery distribution center near most major U.S. urban areas probably have on-hand enough shelf-stable products to feed a community for 3–4 weeks in a disaster – if they can be delivered to stores.

“I think it’s very important to be able to self-sustain yourself,” Legler said. “We live in the United States and we have all these luxuries, but they might not always be there.”

 

 

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Categories: Local Blogs

Borderzine pledge: Enhance our border reporting with a little help from our friends and NewsMatch 2019

Thu, 10/31/2019 - 5:21pm

It’s been a challenging year for storytelling on the border. A mass shooting at a local Walmart killed 22. Migrant caravans were intercepted at the El Paso-Ciudad Juarez crossings. Thousands of migrant children separated from their parents. A rising crescendo of hate-filled anti-immigrant political speech that goes on and on.

But there’s a saying in Spanish, lo que no mata engorda, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. The phrase reflects the can-do spirit of our border journalism students who have soldiered on with strong reporting and digital storytelling that reflects the day-to-day reality of a rich, diverse and thriving cross-border community. Journalism that provide our readers with needed depth and context, and a counterpoint to the negative political narrative.

We are rightly proud of what we do and hope to do more with your help.

Last year your donations to Borderzine through the NewsMatch fundraising campaign for nonprofit newsrooms helped us raise nearly $30,000 – money that helped send student journalists to summer internships at the Washington News Journal in Delaware, Santa Fe Reporter, San Antonio Express-News, Greenville News in South Carolina, and Texas Highways,   to a study abroad program in Cuba and to help buy digital cameras, lenses, microphones, sound recorders and tripods for their reporting.

We hope to surpass last year’s contributions this time by reaching $50,000, which will allow us to fund more student internships, pay for them to travel and attend journalism conferences and trainings, buy more professional sound recorders for podcasting.

The match works like this: Every dollar you donate is matched 1:1 by NewsMatch.  And while one-time contributions in any amount are most welcome, we are being challenged and encouraged to engage more recurring monthly donors, again in any amount –  $50 a month for 12 months = $600 which turns into $1200 –  an amount that covers four weeks of internship pay for one of our students. Donations are accepted on our NewsMatch page or directly at www.borderzine.com.

Now allow me to brag a bit about the uniqueness of our students who are reporting from the borderline which has become the frontline of the immigration wars fought by the White House and the Congress.

As news of the mass shooting in El Paso spread on social media and cable news, current students and recent graduates began receiving phone calls and emails from major news outlets seeking assistance with interviewing and reporting on the ground in El Paso. Some were tapped to contribute to national stories with text, photos and video.

Imagine my pride at seeing the byline of an alum, now a reporter for the El Paso Times, as a contributor on a front-page New York Times story about the mass shooting.

As I watched the TV news the day of the shooting, I recognized two former journalism students, notebook and camera in hand, covering a press conference with El Paso Police in the Walmart parking lot. How gratifying it is to know some Borderzine alums now work, not just in border news outlets, but also at CNN, Associated Press, the New York Times, the Dallas Morning News, Univision, Telemundo, and in smaller newsrooms in cities across the country.

That’s why we do what we do. As the old pop song says, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Adelante,

Zita Arocha

Click hear to read Borderzine pledge: Enhance our border reporting with a little help from our friends and NewsMatch 2019

Categories: Local Blogs

NCAA reverses course, allows student athletes to profit from collegiate sports

Thu, 10/31/2019 - 4:42pm

In turnaround financial victory for student athletes, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) announced Tuesday that college athletes will be allowed to profit from their name, image and likeness following a unanimous vote by the NCAA board.

In a news release, NCAA President Mark Emmert said, “As a national governing body, the NCAA is uniquely positioned to modify its rules to ensure fairness and a level playing field for student-athletes. The board’s action today creates a path to enhance opportunities for student-athletes while ensuring they compete against students and not professionals.”

This week’s vote comes a month after California passed a senate bill to allow student athletes to sign with licensed agents and prevent universities in California from punishing them for profiting off their name, image, and likeness (NIL). Before Tuesday’s vote, NCAA had opposed California’s decision.

The California bill, named the ‘Fair Pay to Play’ Act, which was set to go into effect January 2023, inspired other states to initiate similar legislation to allow student athletes to profit from their collegiate sports careers.

California’s decision created challenges for colleges and universities that belong to the NCAA because it contradicted long-standing NCAA rules that bar college athletes from profiting from their college sports career.

Following the California ruling, the NCAA released a statement to express concern that future “Fair Pay to Play” state laws allowing student athletes to profit from their NIL may create conflicts with other universities nationwide.

In its Tuesday news release, NCAA explained it was overturning its previous ban on allowing student athletes to profit from their sports careers because: “As more states consider their own specific legislation related to this topic, it is clear that a patchwork of different laws from different states will make unattainable the goal of providing a fair and level playing field for 1,100 campuses and nearly half a million student-athletes nationwide.”

Borderzine spoke to New Mexico State University Athletic Director, Mario Moccia, before the NCAA announced their new guidelines. Moccia said he favored creating a separate committee to resolve any conflicts that arise from state bills that contradict NCAA rules.

“I certainly am not anti-helping student athletes from a financial standpoint, I just think it has to be done in a uniformed and proper way,” Moccia said. “The NCAA is its own governing body so that can’t necessarily supersede that.”

The NCAA created a task force that has met over the last few months to address the specific problems and conflicts that might arise from state passage of “Fair Pay to Play” laws. The task force presented its first progress report to the full board Tuesday but is still going to continue to gather feedback through April.

Michael V. Drake, chair of the NCAA board and president of The Ohio State University, said in the press release: “This modernization for the future is a natural extension of the numerous steps NCAA members have taken in recent years to improve support for student-athletes, including full cost of attendance and guaranteed scholarships.”

While the California senate bill has received a lot of attention from college sports programs in other parts of the country, the discussion of an athlete’s right to “fair pay” has been controversial for several years.

Compensation for NIL was first argued in 2014 when Ed O’Bannon, former UCLA men’s basketball star and NCAA National Championship Most Valuable Player, sued the NCAA after having seen his own likeness in an NCAA licensed video game.

Although the NCAA “owns” a student athlete’s name, image and likeness, an NIL release form students are required to sign does not authorize the organization to use the athletes’ name, image or likeness for third-party commercial ventures, such as video games.

The NCAA also had maintained a strictly enforced bylaw that allowed them to ban any school from NCAA competition for two years if it is determined that the school had allowed one of its student athletes to license his or her NIL.

In an interview before Tuesday’s decision, UTEP Athletic Director Jim Senter said NIL restrictions were complicated.

“What if a student athlete went out and sold a sponsorship using their NIL and it is tied to something the university feels would be inappropriate?” he asked. “There’s all these things that are out there that no one has really thought through.”

The new guidelines released by the NCAA specify that student athletes profiting from their NIL must do so “in a manner consistent with the collegiate model.”

After the guidelines were released, Senter said he didn’t have anything more to add. “It is still too early for us to know how all of this will be implemented,” he said.

In the previous interview, Senter said he believes that athletes are compensated fairly through cost of tuition and scholarships but understands why certain athletes might want to profit outside of that.

“We’re doing a lot for student athletes already. I see both sides of the coin,” he said.

“I think it’s unfair that student athletes don’t have the ability to profit some from the talents and the skills and abilities that they have. The flip side is that they are profiting from those things because we’re providing them with a scholarship, room, board, books, fees, tuition,” Senter said.

UTEP Mechanical Engineering student Andrew Salas doesn’t believe scholarships and travel costs are enough compensation for student athletes who help bring in revenue and attention to their schools.

“While student athletes at D-1 universities are provided scholarships, airfare and travel to games, as well as access to athletic facilities, all of this is necessary for them to just be on the team…,” he said.

“None of this accounts for any additional revenue brought in by their name and likeness, and there needs to be fairness in the transaction of acquiring student athletes for a university program,” he added.

 

Click hear to read NCAA reverses course, allows student athletes to profit from collegiate sports

Categories: Local Blogs

Hugs Not Walls event gives families long divided by border precious minutes together

Wed, 10/30/2019 - 10:39am

An estimated 3,000 people gathered Saturday morning, Oct. 26, to see Borderland family members and waited their turn along a small strip of damp land just a few feet from the Rio Grande to see their kin who many hadn’t seen in years and hug them for three minutes under the watchful eye of security officials.

Toddlers, children, teens, parents, grandparents and the infirm gathered along the banks of the river that separates El Paso and Juarez to meet during the seventh gathering of Hugs not Walls/Abrazos no Muros, organized by the Border Network for Human Rights.

Related: Brief reunion of families at border fence makes a point: walls divide, hugs unite (2016)

Many family members live just a few miles apart, but it might as well be worlds apart. In at least one case, a woman saw and hugged her father for the first time in 31 years.

“This event is rooted in love, but also protest,” said Fernando Garcia, BNHR’s executive director. “Our families are in crisis” because so many of them live separated by immigration policies enacted by both the United States and Mexico, he said.

He also blamed a nationalistic fervor and “white supremacy,” referring the shooter who drove 650 miles from Allen, Texas, to kill Hispanics at the Walmart, for the “two years of very aggressive immigration policies.” Among the 21 Hispanics killed in the shooting were Mexican citizens.

More than 300 families braved temperatures that started in the 40s about 6 a.m. at Chihuahuita Park to register for their chance to see family members and finally start meeting about 9:15 a.m. in the middle of the Rio’s concrete culvert near the cities’ downtowns. The gathering was near the Santa Fe bridge and a confluence of railroad tracks from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway.

In a highly organized and methodical way, family members from both countries walked down respective ramps to meet in the middle of the culvert near the reduced-flow river about 40 people at a time and hugged after a spokesman from the Border Network for Human Rights shouted on a loudspeaker: “Familias abrazen” or families hug in English.

For those three minutes, family members exchanged vows, greeted children or grandchildren they’d never met, and took selfies as quickly as they could because time was scarce. After they met and in what seemed like the blink of an eye, a new announcement came over the loudspeaker to separate. Families departed in an orderly way, but often tearfully, and a new lineup of family members from both sides met in the middle.

Families met while the cameras and microphones of some 50 or more international media members recorded their intimate moments, and asked for interviews. Several drone cameras flew overhead.

BNHR security from Ciudad Juarez dressed in red were positioned on the south side of the strip where family members met while security from El Paso were dressed in black. They were separated by about 10 feet of loamy sand.

Family members from Juarez were dressed in white T-shirts while family members from El Paso were dressed in blue T-shirts. The colorful attire kept everyone easily distinguished as they met and then separated after meeting for a few minutes between the two lines of security officials.

The event took place with members of the U.S. Border Patrol monitoring the event from the El Paso side while Mexican federal police watched from the Mexican side.

Prior to the family members meeting, 22 women carrying white crosses from the El Paso side met seven people also carrying crosses from the Juarez side in the middle of the river in a solemn moment to start the event.

The El Paso women carried crosses to represent the 22 people killed in the mass shooting Aug. 3 at the Cielo Vista Walmart, and the Juarez women carried crosses to represent the seven children who had died trying to cross into the United States and while in U.S. custody when children were being separated and detained by U.S. immigration officials. There was a minute of silence as the people with crosses met across from each other.

Hugs not Walls ended about 2 p.m. with more than 3,000 people greeting each other.

Organizers praised a number of agencies that made the event possible: The International Water and Boundary Commission for reducing the Rio’s flow, the BNSP for stopping rail traffic so people could walk to the border fence, the Border Patrol and a more agreeable political climate that made the event possible, and other agencies.

The event was originally scheduled for May, but the Border Patrol did not approve Hugs not Walls at that time, and it was rescheduled for October, organizers said.

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Categories: Local Blogs

Art and technology intersect at El Paso CODAworx event

Tue, 10/29/2019 - 9:16am

El Paso recently became the second site in the nation for an innovative, international event called CODAsummit focused on showcasing the intersection of art and technology.

The three-day event, produced by CODAworx at the El Paso Museum of Art downtown, drew hundreds of local and out-of-town artists, technologists, innovators, museum directors and others to share innovative ideas and brainstorm ways to combine art and technology in public installations making them immersive and interactive.

The first CODAworx event was held in Santa Fe in September 2018, the second in El Paso in October, and a third summit is expected to take place in Denver in the future.

Related: Border Tuner to create bridges of light across El Paso-Juarez sky so residents of both sides can listen to each other

Ben Fyffe, assistant director of the city’s Museums and Cultural Affairs Department, said there is a sense of urgency to bring events like CODAsummit to the borderland.

“I would argue that there are few places that are as misunderstood, continually recontextualized, argued over, fought over as borders. El Paso is at the literal and figurative heart of the U.S.-Mexico border,” he said.

The current politicization and militarization of the border, Fyffe said, makes the region “really fertile ground for artistic and intellectual exploration.”

Among the presenters at the event were internationally recognized artist and architect Guto Requena, who has won several awards, lectured and exhibited in more than 20 countries, and Mexican-born artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, who will unveil in November a cross-border light and sound project Border Tuner in El Paso and Ciudad Juarez,

Brian McKutchen, owner of Ignition Arts, a custom-fabrication company based in Indianapolis that specializes in large scale public art projects and digitally-designed architecture, said he traveled to the El Paso summit “as a fabricator… to support the artists’ conceptual designs and help them make it in the real world.”

A year ago, McKutchen’s company fabricated a public art installation called Marquise at a west side natatorium in El Paso, is currently completing three more art installations in Texas and has two more on the drawing board.

“Texas seems like a state that is really pushing public art in the community, which is awesome,” he said.

CODAworx was launched in 2018 by Toni Sikes, co-founder and CEO of the company, as a networking hub focused on connecting artists, art patrons and various industry professionals to work together to create public and private art installations. On its website CODAworx allows industry professionals to showcase their work, request bids, or enter contracts.

Tracey Jerome, director of El Paso Museums & Cultural Affairs Department (MCAD), invited Sikes to hold the summit in the city after attending the first one in Santa Fe.

“We are in overdrive because there’s an understanding in this community of how important public art is. It’s place making. It’s about identity. It’s about making sure that we have pride in our community,” Jerome said.

At the event opening, Sikes introduced Requena.

“When I spoke to Guto… he told me he wanted to speak on art, technology, and love. Being the good mid-Westerner that I am, I went, ‘Love?’ Given everything that has happened this past year, I think it is a topic we should all be talking about.”

Requena, who lives in São Paulo, Brazil, said that when he looks at everyday objects like benches, bus stops, or even trash cans, he wonders, “why can it not be more than this? What if we can add digital technologies to provoke people to talk and smile?”

Requena’s previous project, “Can you tell me a secret?”, in São Paulo, did just that. The installation consisted of five wooden benches in the middle of the Coronel Fernando Prestes Square, in the Bom Retiro neighborhood, an area with a substantial immigrant population.

According to Requena’s website, the installation “invites passers-by to come in and share their stories, which are then recorded and played back randomly inside the furniture via speakers.”

The shape and color of the furniture, he explained, “came from the hybridization of the ten biggest countries that are living in that area. There is a private chamber where you are invited to narrate secrets about yourself. Then you sit on the bench and you hear random secrets.”

Requena was not shy about sharing his positive energy with many attendees who approached to discuss and express admiration for his work.

“In our life, we all have sad moments, but it’s on us to make the decision of not going to the dark and… sad space but instead looking to the sun and going to the beautiful side of life.”

In another Requena project, Light Creature, that appeared on a São Paulo hotel wall, the artist used audio sensors along with color-changing lights to measure air quality and volume in the city. A phone app allowed people to interact by voice or by drawing patterns.

An unintended result of the project, Requena said, was that during a political demonstration in São Paulo students used the app to change the colors of the building back and forth between the political party colors.

Lozano-Hemmer, who was born in Mexico and now lives in Canada, plans to return to the border region in November to unveil his art installation “Border Tuner,” a project that consists of spotlights placed at six locations in El Paso and Ciudad Juarez.

When the light beams (he calls them “bridges of light”) intersect in the sky above people will be able to talk to each other.

“At a time of intense adversarial nationalism, of racism, we need to create a system that allows us to hear each other,” he said.

 

 

Click hear to read Art and technology intersect at El Paso CODAworx event

Categories: Local Blogs

Border Tuner to create bridges of light across El Paso-Juarez sky so residents of both sides can listen to each other

Thu, 10/24/2019 - 1:33pm

During 12 days in November, residents of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez will get a chance to bridge the border divide with search lights and sound technology for two-way conversation in an innovative, illuminated art installation called Border Tuner.

The technology inspired art show is the brainchild of internationally known, Mexican-born artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, who has combined his artistic sensibilities with advanced digital technology to create and showcase other light and sound art installations in cities around the world, including Washington D.C., Boston, Mexico City, Santiago, Chile, as well as cities in Poland, Austria and Germany.

“The idea is to highlight the very diverse connections that already exist in these two sister cities,” said Lozano-Hemmer at a recent meet-and-greet with local news media and staff at the Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts on the UTEP campus, which is coordinating the project with partners in Ciudad Juarez.

Related: Art and technology intersect at El Paso CODAworx event

The twin cities, he explained, “are connected historically, fraternally, economically, environmentally; so what we want to do is to make sure that this is a platform for people to talk and tell a different story than what we normally hear in the media about the borderlands.”

And, to demonstrate how communication technologies can be used to bridge political, geographic and national boundaries, he said, “the conversations are going to be livestreamed across the globe at bordertuner.net, and the bottom line is to listen to each other. That’s the spirit of this project.”

Border Tuner goes live Nov. 13–24 in both cities – at Bowie High School in El Paso and El Chamizal Park in Ciudad Juarez. The program starts nightly at sunset and continues until 11 p.m. and will include food trucks, tents to showcase the work of community organizations, an educational resource center, and other artworks.

Lozano-Hemmer, who lives in Montreal, explained how local residents can participate: “The idea is to create bridges of light using powerful searchlights… that actually send the voice of people across the US-Mexico border. When you arrive, you’ll have a microphone, a speaker, and you’ll have a little tuning dial. When you turn the tuning dial, the searchlights scan the horizon of the other country.”

“When my light and your light intersect in midair, the computer knows it and automatically opens a direct channel of communication so that now you can hear me and I can hear you,” he said.

At the start of the evening, before handing the instruments and mic to the public, there will be short curated conversations on topics like slam poetry, indigenous communities, music, feminism, environmentalism, and binational/borderland history.

I’m excited because in a way I’m just setting up the theatre, but it’s the people setting up the play/content,” Lozano-Hemmer said.

“The idea of tuning, of listening to others, is exactly what we need at this time: politically and culturally. The symbolism of using the technology of light to transmit voices is such that you as an individual are being seen and heard. Your voice is a bridge to connect the two countries.”

Kerri Doyle, director of the Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts, worked with curators at the Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juarez to bring the project to the borderland. She said the process of coordinating, planning, curating, fundraising and finding partners for the project took a long time and lots of work.

“There’s a lot of under-the-radar work that went into this installation,” Doyle said. “We’ve actually spent most of the past year getting permits, making sure we have all of the technology in place, as well as getting both cities involved.”

Funding for the project in the U.S. came from the Mellon Foundation, VIA Art Fund and Bloomberg, and in Mexico from Arte Abierto and Novamex, with local in-kind support from Transtelco. Doyle said Lozano-Hemmer waived his fees and donated in-kind design and fabrication from his studio Antimodular Studio.

His previous art projects also make use of searchlights and other powerful electronics and include The Trace (1995), Vectorial Elevation (1999), Amodal Suspension & 1000 Platitudes (2003), and Pulse Corniche (2015).

The artist began thinking 10 years ago about creating a unique art installation for the border.

“I’ve wanted to make a piece that would connect Ciudad Juarez and El Paso, but I had an idea originally that was totally bad,” he laughed.

“My idea was to originally put on a light show like the ones I’ve done for the Olympics and for cities around the world,” he said. After giving it more thought, he decided the border art installation “should not be a spectacle. It’s about intimacy… it should also not be (about) controlling the lights but that we’re allowing our communities to control them and somehow listen to conversations.”

As a native of Mexico City, he said, the border divide has always intrigued him.

“For me what this project is about is trying to tell different stories of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez’s relationship. And of the United States and Mexico’s relationship. Not the narrative of a border [wall], and not drugs, rapists, or all these things, but rather another world; a world of coexistence, interdependence, and a world where community brings together people in a way that is really a beautiful example for the rest of the world.”

How to join in

Border Tuner will be live between November 13–24 from 6:30 to 11p.m. at Bowie High School, 801 S San Marcial St., El Paso, TX and Parque Público El Chamizal 1, Ciudad Juarez.

Find more information about the project here or call the Rubin Center at 915-747-6151.

Click hear to read Border Tuner to create bridges of light across El Paso-Juarez sky so residents of both sides can listen to each other

Categories: Local Blogs

The Supreme Court and refugees at the southern border: 5 questions answered

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 9:53am

By Karla Mari McKanders, Vanderbilt University

I sat in a small room in Tijuana, Mexico with a 13-year-old indigenous Mayan Guatemalan girl.

She left Guatemala after a cartel murdered her friend and threatened to rape her. Her mother wanted her to live and believed the only way for her to survive was to send her daughter alone to the U.S., to apply for asylum.

Now she was alone and stuck in Mexico.

Every morning, the Guatemalan girl, along with other asylum seekers, would frantically gather at the Tijuana-U.S. border where they waited to hear their name or their number called so the Mexican government could escort them to the U.S. border.

As the director of the Immigration Clinic, I was in Tijuana, with my law student from the Vanderbilt University Law School Immigration Practice Clinic. In the clinic, we represent asylum seekers in deportation proceedings before the U.S. immigration courts. We traveled to the Tijuana border in December to volunteer with the legal services nonprofit Al Otro Lado.

On my trip, I witnessed the contradictions between human rights protections in the Refugee Convention and how the asylum system was operating in practice.

The administration’s formalizing of informal policies I witnessed in December, along with the Supreme Court’s decision in Barr v. East Bay Sanctuary Covenant in September, closes the southern border to asylum seekers.

In implementing these policies, the U.S. is acting in violation of its own law governing treatment of refugees, the U.S. 1980 Refugee Act. The Q&A below illustrates what the U.S. should be doing, under law – and what it isn’t doing.

1. What are the responsibilities of the US toward refugees?

The Refugee Convention was drafted after the Holocaust, when Jewish refugees were denied protection. The denial of protection resulted in some of the returnees dying in Europe. The events of the Holocaust prompted the international community to enshrine the duty to not return an individual to a country where they would face persecution or death.

In 1968, the U.S. signed onto the provisions of the Refugee Convention. The United States and other countries that signed the Refugee Convention agreed that they would not return a person to their home country if the person fled because of a fear of past or future persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.

In 1980, the U.S. modified the Immigration and Nationality Act to provide full protection to asylum seekers. The procedures, contained in the act, lay out how an asylum seeker can approach the border, express a fear of returning and have a court hearing with a U.S. immigration judge to determine whether they are a refugee.

A refugee camp in Tijuana, Mexico.
Karla McKanders, CC BY 2. How have policies at the border changed?

In January, the administration signed an executive order, the Migration Protection Protocols. This order modified procedures under the 1980 Refugee Act in that asylum seekers must now wait in Mexico and for their asylum hearings before U.S. immigration judges.

In April, the administration proposed new regulations that would impose fees on asylum applicants and would preclude applicants from lawfully working in the U.S. while their applications are pending.

In May, the chief officer for the Asylum Division with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services diminished key protections for unaccompanied minor children. One change would prevent a child – like the asylum seeker I interviewed from Guatemala – from presenting her asylum case before a nonadversarial asylum officer in an interview instead of going to immigration court.

3. What are the policies for asylum seekers in transit?

Under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, a person is not entitled to refugee protection if the U.S. has a valid safe third country agreement with countries through which an asylum seeker travels.

According to U.S. law and United Nations, a safe third country is one in which the asylum seekers’ life or freedom would not be threatened. Before such agreements go into effect, that country must provide fair procedures for people in transit to apply for asylum or equivalent protection.

In July, the administration published a rule banning all asylum seekers who traveled through a safe third country in transit to the United States from applying for asylum.

In the background of this rule is the fact that this year, the administration entered into safe third country agreements with Central American countries: El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.

But these countries are only marginally safe, even for their own nationals.

These Northern Triangle countries have extremely elevated homicide rates; high crime by drug traffickers, gangs and other criminal groups; and corrupt public institutions. In Honduras and El Salvador, homicide rates for males under 30 are the highest in the world.

The high incidence of violence, has, in part, led to the constant migration from the Northern Triangle.

4. What happened with the lawsuit challenging the administration’s new rule?

The refugee legal advocacy organization, East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, challenged the administration’s interim rule. This case made its way to the Supreme Court.

On Sept. 11, the Supreme Court issued an order Barr v. East Bay Sanctuary Covenant lifting the Ninth Circuit’s order halting the rule’s implementation.

The Supreme Court’s order does not have a written opinion, nor does it indicate how the individual justices voted. There is only a dissent written by Justice Sotomayor, joined by Justice Ginsberg.

The case is now back before the Ninth Circuit, before even possibly coming back for the Supreme Court to evaluate the merits of the case.

While the case is proceeding through the court system, the Supreme Court’s order shuts down the southern border to asylum seekers indefinitely.

5. What happens now?

The administration’s changes to the asylum system are now being enforced.

That leaves individuals at risk of staying in unsafe countries with marginally operational systems for processing asylum seekers or being deported to their home countries, where they could face persecution or death.

Doctors without Borders found that 68% of migrants from the Northern Triangle reported being victims of violence during their trip. Nearly one-third of women had been sexually assaulted. Perpetrators include gang members and Mexican security forces.

Another report documented more than 60 cases where deportation back to the Northern Triangle resulted in persecution.

As a practicing immigration law attorney and professor looking at the evidence, it seems clear to me that the interim rule places at risk the lives of multiple asylum seekers.

Karla Mari McKanders, Clinical Professor of Law, Vanderbilt University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Click hear to read The Supreme Court and refugees at the southern border: 5 questions answered

Categories: Local Blogs

The Supreme Court and refugees at the southern border: 5 questions answered

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 9:16am

By Karla Mari McKanders, Vanderbilt University

I sat in a small room in Tijuana, Mexico with a 13-year-old indigenous Mayan Guatemalan girl.

She left Guatemala after a cartel murdered her friend and threatened to rape her. Her mother wanted her to live and believed the only way for her to survive was to send her daughter alone to the U.S., to apply for asylum.

Now she was alone and stuck in Mexico.

Every morning, the Guatemalan girl, along with other asylum seekers, would frantically gather at the Tijuana-U.S. border where they waited to hear their name or their number called so the Mexican government could escort them to the U.S. border.

As the director of the Immigration Clinic, I was in Tijuana, with my law student from the Vanderbilt University Law School Immigration Practice Clinic. In the clinic, we represent asylum seekers in deportation proceedings before the U.S. immigration courts. We traveled to the Tijuana border in December to volunteer with the legal services nonprofit Al Otro Lado.

On my trip, I witnessed the contradictions between human rights protections in the Refugee Convention and how the asylum system was operating in practice.

The administration’s formalizing of informal policies I witnessed in December, along with the Supreme Court’s decision in Barr v. East Bay Sanctuary Covenant in September, closes the southern border to asylum seekers.

In implementing these policies, the U.S. is acting in violation of its own law governing treatment of refugees, the U.S. 1980 Refugee Act. The Q&A below illustrates what the U.S. should be doing, under law – and what it isn’t doing.

1. What are the responsibilities of the US toward refugees?

The Refugee Convention was drafted after the Holocaust, when Jewish refugees were denied protection. The denial of protection resulted in some of the returnees dying in Europe. The events of the Holocaust prompted the international community to enshrine the duty to not return an individual to a country where they would face persecution or death.

In 1968, the U.S. signed onto the provisions of the Refugee Convention. The United States and other countries that signed the Refugee Convention agreed that they would not return a person to their home country if the person fled because of a fear of past or future persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.

In 1980, the U.S. modified the Immigration and Nationality Act to provide full protection to asylum seekers. The procedures, contained in the act, lay out how an asylum seeker can approach the border, express a fear of returning and have a court hearing with a U.S. immigration judge to determine whether they are a refugee.

A refugee camp in Tijuana, Mexico.
Karla McKanders, CC BY 2. How have policies at the border changed?

In January, the administration signed an executive order, the Migration Protection Protocols. This order modified procedures under the 1980 Refugee Act in that asylum seekers must now wait in Mexico and for their asylum hearings before U.S. immigration judges.

In April, the administration proposed new regulations that would impose fees on asylum applicants and would preclude applicants from lawfully working in the U.S. while their applications are pending.

In May, the chief officer for the Asylum Division with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services diminished key protections for unaccompanied minor children. One change would prevent a child – like the asylum seeker I interviewed from Guatemala – from presenting her asylum case before a nonadversarial asylum officer in an interview instead of going to immigration court.

3. What are the policies for asylum seekers in transit?

Under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, a person is not entitled to refugee protection if the U.S. has a valid safe third country agreement with countries through which an asylum seeker travels.

According to U.S. law and United Nations, a safe third country is one in which the asylum seekers’ life or freedom would not be threatened. Before such agreements go into effect, that country must provide fair procedures for people in transit to apply for asylum or equivalent protection.

In July, the administration published a rule banning all asylum seekers who traveled through a safe third country in transit to the United States from applying for asylum.

In the background of this rule is the fact that this year, the administration entered into safe third country agreements with Central American countries: El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.

But these countries are only marginally safe, even for their own nationals.

These Northern Triangle countries have extremely elevated homicide rates; high crime by drug traffickers, gangs and other criminal groups; and corrupt public institutions. In Honduras and El Salvador, homicide rates for males under 30 are the highest in the world.

The high incidence of violence, has, in part, led to the constant migration from the Northern Triangle.

4. What happened with the lawsuit challenging the administration’s new rule?

The refugee legal advocacy organization, East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, challenged the administration’s interim rule. This case made its way to the Supreme Court.

On Sept. 11, the Supreme Court issued an order Barr v. East Bay Sanctuary Covenant lifting the Ninth Circuit’s order halting the rule’s implementation.

The Supreme Court’s order does not have a written opinion, nor does it indicate how the individual justices voted. There is only a dissent written by Justice Sotomayor, joined by Justice Ginsberg.

The case is now back before the Ninth Circuit, before even possibly coming back for the Supreme Court to evaluate the merits of the case.

While the case is proceeding through the court system, the Supreme Court’s order shuts down the southern border to asylum seekers indefinitely.

5. What happens now?

The administration’s changes to the asylum system are now being enforced.

That leaves individuals at risk of staying in unsafe countries with marginally operational systems for processing asylum seekers or being deported to their home countries, where they could face persecution or death.

Doctors without Borders found that 68% of migrants from the Northern Triangle reported being victims of violence during their trip. Nearly one-third of women had been sexually assaulted. Perpetrators include gang members and Mexican security forces.

Another report documented more than 60 cases where deportation back to the Northern Triangle resulted in persecution.

As a practicing immigration law attorney and professor looking at the evidence, it seems clear to me that the interim rule places at risk the lives of multiple asylum seekers.

Karla Mari McKanders, Clinical Professor of Law, Vanderbilt University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Click hear to read The Supreme Court and refugees at the southern border: 5 questions answered

Categories: Local Blogs

Far fewer Mexican immigrants are coming to the US — and those who do are more educated

Thu, 10/03/2019 - 9:53am

By Rogelio Sáenz, The University of Texas at San Antonio

Once upon a time, not long ago, Mexicans dominated the flow of migrants coming to the U.S. Mexican migration expanded over the course of much of the 20th century and into the start of the 21st century.

That is no longer the case.

The number of Mexican migrants fell during the economic recession and has continued to fall further after the U.S. economy recovered.

The downturn of Mexican migration

Data from the annual American Community Surveys, which I analyze in my research on Mexican migration, show that the number of foreign-born Mexicans migrating to the U.S. in the previous year fell from 2003 to 2017.

The numbers tell the story, with the volume of Mexican migration dropping from nearly 1.7 million in 2003-2007 to 778,000 in 2013-2017. This represents a drop of 53%.

The share of Mexicans among all foreign-born persons who migrated to the U.S. dwindled sharply in the same time period, from 28.9% to 9.6%. Mexico fell from the country that sent the most migrants to the U.S. to third place, behind India and China.

The decline in Mexican migration is evident across the nation. Only nine states, including Louisiana, Massachusetts and Montana, which have very small Mexican-origin populations, experienced minor growth of Mexican migrants between the 2003-2007 and the 2013-2017 periods.

California saw a decline between those periods of 275,000 Mexican migrants and Texas a decrease of nearly 104,000.

Twenty-five states received fewer than half as many migrants from Mexico than a decade earlier.

A unique case

But surely, this decline is not unique to Mexican migrants. Right?

Actually, there are more overall migrants coming to the U.S. than a decade ago. Mexico stands out in its diminished number of migrants to the U.S.

Between the 2003-2007 and the 2013-2017 periods, overall migration rose by 41% in the U.S. and across regions of the world.

In fact, the U.S. saw an 81% increase in migrants from the Spanish-speaking Latin American and Caribbean countries, increasing from nearly 726,000 in 2003-2007 to slightly more than 1.3 million in 2013-2017. The number of migrants from Asia more than doubled, and the number from Africa increased 86%.

These trends are consistent across the U.S. During the same timespan that only nine states posted gains in Mexican migrant newcomers, 48 states did so across all migrants.

What gives?

There are numerous explanations for the unique plunge in Mexican migration.

For example, with the increasing militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border since 9/11 it has become more difficult to cross the border. The pay required by coyotes, or human smugglers, has risen exorbitantly over the last decade.

In addition, the Obama and Trump administrations increased significantly the number of people detained and deported from the U.S., many of them from Mexico.

Moreover, the economy in Mexico has improved, and Mexican workers have more employment options at home. Mexico is a world leader in the preparation of engineers and computer scientists, with its number of engineers almost tripling between 2000 and 2015.

Furthermore, the fertility rate in Mexico has dropped, from women having an average of approximately 7 births in 1960 to 2.1 in 2019. The population pressure to create jobs for a large youthful workforce continues to diminish in Mexico and likely will continue to do so in the coming decades.

What the future holds

There is evidence that Mexicans migrating to the U.S. today are significantly different than their counterparts making the move more than a decade ago.

Traditionally, Mexican migrants have been primarily males with limited educational and economic resources. They clustered in certain low-wage jobs in the agriculture, construction and service sectors.

However, as my own work has shown, recent Mexican migrants tend to have a higher level of education and a greater fluency in English. A higher percentage are U.S. naturalized citizens.

In addition, a May report from the Migration Policy Institute, a D.C. think tank, noted the recent significant increase of skilled Mexican migrants in the U.S.

The report points out that the number of Mexican migrants with a bachelor’s degree or higher rose 2.5 times between 2000 and 2017, rising from 269,000 in 2000 to 678,000 in 2017. Today Mexicans rank as the fourth largest group of immigrants with at least a bachelor’s degree in the U.S., behind India, China and the Philippines.

Will the level of migration from Mexico to the U.S. rebound to the levels observed at the close of the 20th and beginning of the 21st century? In my view, it is unlikely.

Mexico is undergoing a significant demographic shift that will result in an aging population and workforce, as well as a significant technological transformation that is associated with a growing number of Mexicans in science and technology fields.

I also suspect that the Trump administration’s harsh rhetoric and negative depiction of Mexicans, along with the mass shooting in El Paso targeting Mexican “invaders,” also makes Mexicans even more hesitant to come to this country.

Rogelio Sáenz, Professor of Demography, The University of Texas at San Antonio

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

 

Click hear to read Far fewer Mexican immigrants are coming to the US — and those who do are more educated

Categories: Local Blogs

Far fewer Mexican immigrants are coming to the US — and those who do are more educated

Thu, 10/03/2019 - 9:08am

By Rogelio Sáenz, The University of Texas at San Antonio

Once upon a time, not long ago, Mexicans dominated the flow of migrants coming to the U.S. Mexican migration expanded over the course of much of the 20th century and into the start of the 21st century.

That is no longer the case.

The number of Mexican migrants fell during the economic recession and has continued to fall further after the U.S. economy recovered.

The downturn of Mexican migration

Data from the annual American Community Surveys, which I analyze in my research on Mexican migration, show that the number of foreign-born Mexicans migrating to the U.S. in the previous year fell from 2003 to 2017.

The numbers tell the story, with the volume of Mexican migration dropping from nearly 1.7 million in 2003-2007 to 778,000 in 2013-2017. This represents a drop of 53%.

The share of Mexicans among all foreign-born persons who migrated to the U.S. dwindled sharply in the same time period, from 28.9% to 9.6%. Mexico fell from the country that sent the most migrants to the U.S. to third place, behind India and China.

The decline in Mexican migration is evident across the nation. Only nine states, including Louisiana, Massachusetts and Montana, which have very small Mexican-origin populations, experienced minor growth of Mexican migrants between the 2003-2007 and the 2013-2017 periods.

California saw a decline between those periods of 275,000 Mexican migrants and Texas a decrease of nearly 104,000.

Twenty-five states received fewer than half as many migrants from Mexico than a decade earlier.

A unique case

But surely, this decline is not unique to Mexican migrants. Right?

Actually, there are more overall migrants coming to the U.S. than a decade ago. Mexico stands out in its diminished number of migrants to the U.S.

Between the 2003-2007 and the 2013-2017 periods, overall migration rose by 41% in the U.S. and across regions of the world.

In fact, the U.S. saw an 81% increase in migrants from the Spanish-speaking Latin American and Caribbean countries, increasing from nearly 726,000 in 2003-2007 to slightly more than 1.3 million in 2013-2017. The number of migrants from Asia more than doubled, and the number from Africa increased 86%.

These trends are consistent across the U.S. During the same timespan that only nine states posted gains in Mexican migrant newcomers, 48 states did so across all migrants.

What gives?

There are numerous explanations for the unique plunge in Mexican migration.

For example, with the increasing militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border since 9/11 it has become more difficult to cross the border. The pay required by coyotes, or human smugglers, has risen exorbitantly over the last decade.

In addition, the Obama and Trump administrations increased significantly the number of people detained and deported from the U.S., many of them from Mexico.

Moreover, the economy in Mexico has improved, and Mexican workers have more employment options at home. Mexico is a world leader in the preparation of engineers and computer scientists, with its number of engineers almost tripling between 2000 and 2015.

Furthermore, the fertility rate in Mexico has dropped, from women having an average of approximately 7 births in 1960 to 2.1 in 2019. The population pressure to create jobs for a large youthful workforce continues to diminish in Mexico and likely will continue to do so in the coming decades.

What the future holds

There is evidence that Mexicans migrating to the U.S. today are significantly different than their counterparts making the move more than a decade ago.

Traditionally, Mexican migrants have been primarily males with limited educational and economic resources. They clustered in certain low-wage jobs in the agriculture, construction and service sectors.

However, as my own work has shown, recent Mexican migrants tend to have a higher level of education and a greater fluency in English. A higher percentage are U.S. naturalized citizens.

In addition, a May report from the Migration Policy Institute, a D.C. think tank, noted the recent significant increase of skilled Mexican migrants in the U.S.

The report points out that the number of Mexican migrants with a bachelor’s degree or higher rose 2.5 times between 2000 and 2017, rising from 269,000 in 2000 to 678,000 in 2017. Today Mexicans rank as the fourth largest group of immigrants with at least a bachelor’s degree in the U.S., behind India, China and the Philippines.

Will the level of migration from Mexico to the U.S. rebound to the levels observed at the close of the 20th and beginning of the 21st century? In my view, it is unlikely.

Mexico is undergoing a significant demographic shift that will result in an aging population and workforce, as well as a significant technological transformation that is associated with a growing number of Mexicans in science and technology fields.

I also suspect that the Trump administration’s harsh rhetoric and negative depiction of Mexicans, along with the mass shooting in El Paso targeting Mexican “invaders,” also makes Mexicans even more hesitant to come to this country.

Rogelio Sáenz, Professor of Demography, The University of Texas at San Antonio

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

 

Click hear to read Far fewer Mexican immigrants are coming to the US — and those who do are more educated

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Words of support for the people of El Paso, Juarez from U.S. journalism professors who have been here

Wed, 10/02/2019 - 5:12pm

The shock and sorrow felt after the Aug. 3 attack on Borderland residents at an El Paso Walmart continues to resonate throughout the community more than a month after 22 people were killed in the mass shooting.

Near the site of the tragedy, an impromptu memorial of flowers, crosses and posters attracts a stream of visitors daily.  Words of support are still being sent by people from around the world to try to offer some comfort.

Borderzine has heard from a number of journalism professors who visited El Paso as part of the Dow Jones Multimedia Training Academy annual summer program that has been running for 10 years at UT El Paso. They wanted to share their own words to the community that made them feel welcome as they worked on stories about life here. This is what they want you to know.

Rick Brunson
Associate Instructor
Nicholson School of Communication and Media
University of Central Florida

Within an hour of landing in El Paso, I fell in love with it — even though I’d never visited the city.  My first stop after arriving for the Dow Jones Multimedia Training Academy at UTEP was the Whataburger on Mesa Street near campus.

At the table to my right, three high school girls — one white, one black, one Latina — chatted and gossiped away. At the table to my left, three construction workers — one Anglo and two Hispanics — laughed easily about their work day. Above me, a buzz of Spanish and English melded as naturally as the air I was breathing.

For the rest of week, I was welcomed as if I’d lived in El Paso all my life. The city’s hospitality won my heart. So much so that when I returned home to Orlando, I wrote a column about it that was picked up by 13 news organizations and won a national writing award. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/migrant-crisis-hits-us-border_b_5637289 But it wasn’t me. It was El Paso.

Now, from far away I mourn the darkness that has descended on the Sun City. But it will rise because the same love it showed me five years ago lives every day in the lives of its 700,000 citizens and is part of the city’s history, geography and DNA.

Love you, El Paso.

 


Jennifer Thomas
Assistant Professor
Department of Media, Journalism and Film
Howard University

My heart sank when l saw the news about the mass shooting. I’m praying for all of the families who’ve been affected and also for all of you and the community. I often think of our ‘17 cohort and how important the stories were that we covered … then and now.

 

Brad Mello
Associate Professor, Department Chair
Communication Department
St. Xavier University

I came across these historical markers during our day exploring the border/wall as part of the multimedia training workshop and learned of the rich history of the region.

The residents of the area have always been resilient, as the stories on these markers reveal and I know they’ll figure out how to move forward in the face of this tragedy.

 

Karima A. Haynes
Assistant Professor
Bowie State University, Maryland

I am heartbroken over the slaughter of innocent people in El Paso.

I first visited El Paso as part of the 2016 Dow Jones Multimedia Training Academy. I loved the beautiful blend of Mexican and Native American culture set against the backdrop of the Old American West.

Hispanic, African-American and Caucasian people moved as easily between Juárez and El Paso as they did switching from English to Spanish. Our team of journalism professors from HBCUs and HSIs, and trainers from UTEP, were just as diverse and cohesive — which is not an oxymoron.

El Paso will always be in my heart.

 

Geoff Campbell
Adjunct Assistant Professor
UT Arlington Department of Communication

My heart ached when news of the Walmart mass shooting broke. My mind raced with thoughts of the all the beautiful people I met when, in June 2018, I attended the Dow Jones News Fund Multimedia Training Academy at UTEP.

It was the first time I’d been to El Paso in some 20 years, and I wasn’t certain what to expect.

What I encountered was love. I was struck by the pride of everyday El Pasoans in their city and its rich, multicultural stew. From Uber drivers to craft brewers, from former and current governmental leaders to restaurant wait staff, I felt the city’s great spirit of welcome and pride. It is with me still. And it comes as no surprise to me that the city is meeting this tragedy with love.

 

Farideh Dada
Instructor
De Anza and at San Jose City colleges

I’ve been following the El Paso news and have been saddened by the recent tragedy. My heart goes to you and the beautiful El Paso community.

I’m with you in spirit. Please take care of yourself.

 

 
Stu VanAirsdale
Professional Journalist in Residence
Sacramento State University

While attending the Dow Jones News Fund’s Multimedia Training Academy in 2016, I was assigned to report on the planned revival of the El Paso Streetcar. My team, drawn from journalism professors in California, Texas, and Louisiana, spent an afternoon downtown surveying the streetcar’s planned route and considering its century-old legacy as a link between El Paso and Juárez.

Amid the reporting, I was struck by a mural overlooking a parking lot on Stanton Street: “Ánimo Sin Fronteras” (“Spirit Without Borders”), by the street artist El Mac. The mural depicts Melchor Flores, who for years has sought answers in the disappearance of his son in Nuevo Leon in 2009. The piece is a companion to “Juarense y Poderosa,” El Mac’s mural in Juárez depicting a young woman named Diana whose mother was kidnapped years earlier.

The murals testify to not only the bond between the two cities, but the capacity for resilience and defiance in the face of anguish, terror, and what can only be described as pathological political inaction.

While El Paso has been on my mind in recent weeks amid coverage of detentions and spiraling asylum policy at the border, it wasn’t until news of the shooting that I recalled “Ánimo Sin Flores.” It wasn’t until contemplating Flores’ expression of strength that I aligned it with El Paso’s own redoubtability. It wasn’t until reflecting on the grace, kindness, vibrancy, flintiness and imagination of those Paseños and Juarenses whom I encountered in 2016 that I grasped Flores’ gesture as an emblem of all that the borderland has to offer this country. It says to me one thing: No matter how long and hard we have to resist or fight tragedy and dehumanization, we must resist and fight them.

I’m grateful to El Paso for what it showed me, and what it will no doubt show America in the weeks and months and years ahead.

 

Laura Castañeda
Lecturer, Internship coordinator
San Diego State University

My heart goes out to all of you in El Paso right now.  Not only you as citizens of that beautiful border region, but also all of the journalists who are out there covering the tragic stories.

El Paso is very special to me because as I told you when we went, El Paso is the birthplace of my father, Ignacio.  He attended Sacred Heart Catholic School in the barrio.  My family has since left El Paso for Illinois, but my dad remembers places, names, and streets vividly.  My sisters and I recently gathered in my current home in San Diego to celebrate his 80th birthday.  I think about the victims and families who will no longer to do that.

I remember during my stay going to the swap meet with the big white horse outside.  I also had the fortune of going to a very old diner called Lydia’s with my classmates to cover that story. They were a pioneer family of sorts and again it just haunts me to think about the many victims who probably visited these sites on a happy occasion.

My heart is heavy for all of you in El Paso.

Un abrazo fuerte.

 

Lourdes Cueva Chacon
Doctoral candidate and former Borderzine webmaster
School of Journalism
The University of Texas at Austin

El Paso occupies a very important place in my heart and my mind — which is similar but not the same. I went there to study my master’s degree and, in addition to knowledge, I found much more in the process. I found a community that opened their houses and hearts to foreigners. I found a community that was proud of  its history. A community that suffered from oversight and oblivion from the centers of power but nonetheless fought for what was right for them and newcomers. A community that appreciates the value of multiple cultures and languages coexisting and enriching each other.

Looking at our former UTEP and Borderzine students coming back to report for national news organizations breaks my heart and fills me with pride at the same time. They come from a long line of courageous women and men that value family, the big family of humanity that has members across borders and across languages.

 

Dan Evans
Associate Professor, Journalism
News Director, South Florida News Service
Florida International University

A bit more than a year ago, I attended a multimedia training put on by faculty at the University of Texas, El Paso and sponsored by the Dow Jones News Fund. Outside of a gas stop on my trek on I-10 from California to Miami, it was the first time I had been to the border city.

Still, much of it felt familiar. I grew up in San Diego, so popping over to a foreign country for a bite or a drink on a whim didn’t seem all that odd. I was also used to the dichotomy between the Mexican and U.S. sides – El Paso vs. Ciudad Juárez and San Diego vs. Tijuana.

That is, that the American cities were clean, well-maintained, safe and orderly while the Mexican ones were chaotic messes filled with crime. The recent shootings in Gilroy, El Paso and Dayton may have changed these perceptions, at least outside of the hyper-partisan bubble so often seen on cable television.

Though I have been to the Gilroy Garlic Festival and tasted the infamous garlic ice cream (pro tip: don’t), the Walmart shooting in El Paso affected me so much more. I could almost feel the dry heat mixing with the cold sweat of terror that must have dampened the shirts of hundreds of shoppers and dripped from the brows of dozens of police officers who ran into harm’s way.

My first thought was simply: “My god. Why El Paso? They don’t deserve this.” And then: “Why should any city, anywhere, deserve this? Isn’t this America? Aren’t we supposed to be better than this?” And then, sadly: “Not yet.”

Putting aside how things are going to get better, and how that might be done, one thing is certain: El Paso will endure. Despite my relatively brief time in the area, I was struck by so many Pasenos’ endurance, internal steel and, yes, stubbornness — traits seemingly required to live and thrive in often unforgiving landscape that is West Texas.

As part of my time in the multimedia academy, our little team of reporters focused on a group of mostly women keeping a vigil over the developers – and bulldozers – attempting to remake their neighborhood. Duranguito is in a rapidly gentrifying part of downtown El Paso, with the land suddenly worth far more than ever before. But for these women, the area had been their home for decades, and they had no intention of moving. (If you’re interested, here’s the story: http://borderzine.com/2018/06/on-the-wake-of-pancho-villas-140th-birthday-three-women-wage-a-battle-against-gentrification-in-el-pasos-oldest-neighborhood/)

A quick check of news about the neighborhood indicates the fight – despite the increasingly heavy odds to those opposed to development – continues on. This does not surprise me, but it stands as near proof-positive that El Paso will survive this senseless tragedy and, against all odds, that something good will come of it.

Click hear to read Words of support for the people of El Paso, Juarez from U.S. journalism professors who have been here

Categories: Local Blogs

Keep these tips in mind when visiting your neighborhood bar

Tue, 09/24/2019 - 12:59pm

Working in a neighborhood bar can be a tough job. You work long shifts, always on your feet and on the go. You face customers who are at their best when they’re celebrating and at their worst when they’ve had way too much to drink.

But, it can also be great job because you get to meet a lot of different people, which makes it fun and interesting. And, you can make good money in tips if you provide excellent customer service.

It also takes patience because not all customers understand the etiquette servers and bartenders have been trained with. Working in the bar industry for three years I have realized a few things customers tend to forget or not consider while on their night out bar hopping. Below are a few tips bar hoppers should to keep in mind while visiting their local neighborhood bar for a great night out.

cover photo

1. Be Patient

Most neighborhood bars tend to get a large crowd during peak evening hours. Even if servers don’t look like they noticed you, they will get to you as soon as they can. They are trained to attend to people in the order in which they arrived. If you think a server forgot your order or something you requested, simply ask nicely again to remind them. Being rude doesn’t speed things up.

 

2. Treat your bartenders with respect

Almost all neighborhood bars are casual and the majority of the people who go tend to go have a few drinks with friends and family while listening to music. While the music may be loud at times, it isn’t appropriate to shout things like “Girl!’ to get your bartender’s attention. Simply stand in front of them and they will look up and ask you what you’d like or they will ask you to wait a second. If you must call for their attention a simple “excuse me” will do.

Know what you want to order.

3. Know what you want to order

Most neighborhood bartenders on average just make the most popular mixed drinks and don’t know how or have the time to whip up a fantastic drink like a specialized mixologist can.

It can be hard in a noisy bar to have a conversation about what names of cocktails to recommend for a person who wants something sweet but not too strong, or someone who likes gin but not a gin and tonic.

But if you share more or less what you want, most bartenders are likely to see what they can do for you because it is fun to create drinks. But with that in mind, you can’t be picky. If you think it is absolutely disgusting you still have to pay for it.

Prices aren’t made by bartenders.

4. Prices aren’t made by bartenders

Understand that bartenders do not make the prices for beers and cocktails, they simply enter the item on their register and the register’s system totals it all up ready for them to provide to you.

If another bar has the same drink or beer at a lower price telling your bartender won’t cause them to change the price, just accept it and pay your tab and don’t fight your bartender over the bill cost.

Do keep in mind how many drinks you’ve had and what you’ve had sometimes bartenders do have over 10 tabs at a time with more than one John drinking Bud Light and can make a mistake.

Don’t ask for a discount.

5. Don’t ask for a discount

When some customers run up a pricey tab they think they should some reward for it. They expect free shots or a discount. Don’t try to make up something that was wrong to get a manager to get a discount. Most of the time the manager will stand behind the bartender and accuse you of being under the influence and you will lose the battle.

Many more times do bartenders get asked to “hook up” a customer, by giving a few free drinks and shots. This does nothing but turn off a bartender, automatically it says you don’t want to pay like everyone else and the chances of you leaving a nice tip for them is slim. Do not ask for the “hook up,” if they want to hook you up, they will if they are allowed to by the establishment.

Make sure to tip.

6. Make sure to tip

It is not required to tip but it should be done out of courtesy. Most bartenders rely on their tips and many of them get a $0 check after taxes are taken out based on sales. There is no required amount to tip. If a bartender does make you a drink, a simple dollar is appreciated. When you order more than four drinks, or shots at a time it is nice to tip a few dollars. Many times people will ring up a large tab, and a “large” tab is considered anything over $50 and still tip about most customers will tip $5 at the most.

Again, there is nothing completely wrong with it, but if you think about it the average drink costs $5 so if you have at total of eight drinks the bartender served you and it is nice etiquette to tip a little higher such as %15.

Know when enough is enough.

7. Know when enough is enough

Legally, it is part of a bartenders job to serve customers accordingly and to avoid over serving anyone at all costs. Bartenders can get fined for over serving if TABC shows up on sight and notices any customer is in fact extremely intoxicated. If a bartender feels you have had too much to drink they will most likely cut you off, if they do accept it gracefully, cash out and leave via Uber, taxi or some form other of transportation that does not involve you driving. Remember, if bartenders cut you off chances are you are acting intoxicated and they are taking precautions to make sure you and everyone around you is safe.

Click hear to read Keep these tips in mind when visiting your neighborhood bar

Categories: Local Blogs

Keep these tips in mind when visiting your neighborhood bar

Tue, 09/24/2019 - 9:04am

Working in a neighborhood bar can be a tough job. You work long shifts, always on your feet and on the go. You face customers who are at their best when they’re celebrating and at their worst when they’ve had way too much to drink.

But, it can also be great job because you get to meet a lot of different people, which makes it fun and interesting. And, you can make good money in tips if you provide excellent customer service.

It also takes patience because not all customers understand the etiquette servers and bartenders have been trained with. Working in the bar industry for three years I have realized a few things customers tend to forget or not consider while on their night out bar hopping. Below are a few tips bar hoppers should to keep in mind while visiting their local neighborhood bar for a great night out.

cover photo

1. Be Patient

Most neighborhood bars tend to get a large crowd during peak evening hours. Even if servers don’t look like they noticed you, they will get to you as soon as they can. They are trained to attend to people in the order in which they arrived. If you think a server forgot your order or something you requested, simply ask nicely again to remind them. Being rude doesn’t speed things up.

 

2. Treat your bartenders with respect

Almost all neighborhood bars are casual and the majority of the people who go tend to go have a few drinks with friends and family while listening to music. While the music may be loud at times, it isn’t appropriate to shout things like “Girl!’ to get your bartender’s attention. Simply stand in front of them and they will look up and ask you what you’d like or they will ask you to wait a second. If you must call for their attention a simple “excuse me” will do.

Know what you want to order.

3. Know what you want to order

Most neighborhood bartenders on average just make the most popular mixed drinks and don’t know how or have the time to whip up a fantastic drink like a specialized mixologist can.

It can be hard in a noisy bar to have a conversation about what names of cocktails to recommend for a person who wants something sweet but not too strong, or someone who likes gin but not a gin and tonic.

But if you share more or less what you want, most bartenders are likely to see what they can do for you because it is fun to create drinks. But with that in mind, you can’t be picky. If you think it is absolutely disgusting you still have to pay for it.

Prices aren’t made by bartenders.

4. Prices aren’t made by bartenders

Understand that bartenders do not make the prices for beers and cocktails, they simply enter the item on their register and the register’s system totals it all up ready for them to provide to you.

If another bar has the same drink or beer at a lower price telling your bartender won’t cause them to change the price, just accept it and pay your tab and don’t fight your bartender over the bill cost.

Do keep in mind how many drinks you’ve had and what you’ve had sometimes bartenders do have over 10 tabs at a time with more than one John drinking Bud Light and can make a mistake.

Don’t ask for a discount.

 

5. Don’t ask for a discount

When some customers run up a pricey tab they think they should some reward for it. They expect free shots or a discount. Don’t try to make up something that was wrong to get a manager to get a discount. Most of the time the manager will stand behind the bartender and accuse you of being under the influence and you will lose the battle.

Many more times do bartenders get asked to “hook up” a customer, by giving a few free drinks and shots. This does nothing but turn off a bartender, automatically it says you don’t want to pay like everyone else and the chances of you leaving a nice tip for them is slim. Do not ask for the “hook up,” if they want to hook you up, they will if they are allowed to by the establishment.

Make sure to tip.

6. Make sure to tip

It is not required to tip but it should be done out of courtesy. Most bartenders rely on their tips and many of them get a $0 check after taxes are taken out based on sales. There is no required amount to tip. If a bartender does make you a drink, a simple dollar is appreciated. When you order more than four drinks, or shots at a time it is nice to tip a few dollars. Many times people will ring up a large tab, and a “large” tab is considered anything over $50 and still tip about most customers will tip $5 at the most.

Again, there is nothing completely wrong with it, but if you think about it the average drink costs $5 so if you have at total of eight drinks the bartender served you and it is nice etiquette to tip a little higher such as %15.

Know when enough is enough.

7. Know when enough is enough

Legally, it is part of a bartenders job to serve customers accordingly and to avoid over serving anyone at all costs. Bartenders can get fined for over serving if TABC shows up on sight and notices any customer is in fact extremely intoxicated. If a bartender feels you have had too much to drink they will most likely cut you off, if they do accept it gracefully, cash out and leave via Uber, taxi or some form other of transportation that does not involve you driving. Remember, if bartenders cut you off chances are you are acting intoxicated and they are taking precautions to make sure you and everyone around you is safe.

Click hear to read Keep these tips in mind when visiting your neighborhood bar

Categories: Local Blogs

ICE agrees to release 2 Indian hunger strikers from El Paso-area detention facilities

Sun, 09/22/2019 - 5:41pm

Two asylum seekers from India who have been on a hunger strike at El Paso area immigration detention facilities for 75 days will be released soon, their lawyers said.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have agreed to release Ajay Kumar, 33, and Gurjant Singh, 24, after they complete several days of refeeding at the agency’s El Paso Processing Center, lawyers Linda Corchado and Jessica Miles said.

“After he signed his release (documents), Ajay said namaste to each officer and looked at me with tears in his eyes,” Corchado said on Twitter. “’This road was long ma’am,’ he said. His is one voice in a broken system.”

Kumar and Singh were among four Indian asylum seekers who began hunger strikes on July 9 at the Otero County Processing Center, an ICE facility in southern New Mexico just outside El Paso that’s operated by a for-profit company. They had been held almost a year and were asking to be released while their cases were decided by immigration judges. They were moved to ICE’s El Paso Processing Center several days after beginning their hunger strikes.

Gurjant Singh weighed 89 pounds on Wednesday, down from 126 when he started his hunger strike. Photo courtesy Jessica Miles

It was the second large hunger strike at El Paso ICE facilities this year. In January, nine Indian men began a hunger strike at Otero and were transferred to ICE’s El Paso facility, where they were force-fed for two weeks. Those men also sought to be freed while their immigration cases were decided.

Eventually, two of those men were released in April after refusing food for 74 days. Most of the other men were deported, lawyers have said.

In the latest hunger strike, ICE sought force-feeding orders from federal judges for the four men in August. The judicial force-feeding orders in El Paso this year have been shrouded in secrecy, as judges have barred public view of all but one of the case files.

The sole exception has been the case of Kumar, which U.S. District Judge Frank Montalvo partially unsealed in August at the request of the hunger striker’s lawyers. In the cases of Singh and another hunger striker who has asked not to be identified because he didn’t want his family to know he’s on a hunger strike, U.S. District Judge David Guaderrama opened an Aug. 16 court hearing to the public but has kept all records sealed. The case of the fourth recent hunger striker, who hasn’t been publicly identified, has been sealed by U.S. District Judge Philip Martinez.

Thirteen Indian asylum seekers have been force-fed this year after beginning hunger strikes at the Otero County Detention facility in southern New Mexico, just outside El Paso. Photo by Robert Moore.

 

Testimony in hearings last month showed that ICE obtained court orders Aug. 14 authorizing the agency to begin force-feeding the four hunger strikers. Nasogastric tubes were inserted through their noses, down their esophaguses and into their stomachs.

The United Nations has said that force-feeding detained and imprisoned hunger strikers is a form of torture. The practice is widely deemed as medically unethical, something that ICE physician Dr. Michelle Iglesias acknowledged in the two August hearings.

ICE officials have said force-feedings are justified when hunger strikes put the life of detainees at risk, and federal judges have repeatedly approved force-feeding orders.

ICE doctor’s role

Iglesias’ treatment of the hunger strikers – before, during and after their force-feeding – has been harshly criticized by the hunger strikers, their lawyers and an expert in health care for detained populations.

Her identity was masked in records filed in Kumar’s case, and in the two August court hearings she was identified only as “ICE doctor,” even when she testified. However, she was publicly identified at a February court hearing involving two of the earlier hunger strikers. She said she was a contract physician for ICE and maintained a family medical practice in El Paso.

In her testimony at the two August hearings, Iglesias described the involuntary insertion of a nasogastric tube as “uncomfortable.” Kumar, the only El Paso hunger striker allowed to testify at a public court hearing this year, had a far different description.

“The process of putting in the tubes was very painful, excruciatingly painful,” Kumar said through a Punjabi interpreter. “This was a question of my freedom, so I bore it.”

Kumar and Iglesias both testified that it took three attempts to insert the feeding tube.

On the first two attempts to place the feeding tube through his left nostril, X-rays showed that the tube coiled up in his esophagus, Iglesias testified. The tube was withdrawn each time. “When I put it in the right nostril, I was able to get it in the stomach without coiling,” Iglesias said.

She said she hadn’t seen tubes coil in previous force-feedings.

In his testimony, Kumar said he had bleeding in his nose and mouth during the three attempted insertions and had trouble breathing. After the two failed attempts, he said a nurse asked him to voluntarily drink a protein shake. “If you don’t drink this, we will put in this tube again,” Kumar recalled the nurse saying. He refused and the third insertion attempt was made.

Iglesias and Kumar also testified that the other three hunger strikers were in the room when Kumar underwent the procedure. Iglesias said the small medical facilities at ICE’s El Paso Processing Center left her no other choice.

Kumar said he bled during the insertion process and he believed ICE was trying to intimidate the other hunger strikers. Two hunger strikers from earlier this year said the nine Indian men were present at each insertion proceeding, which was often bloody.

Kumar testified that he witnessed the nasogastric tube insertion of his three fellow hunger strikers. One of the men, who hasn’t been publicly identified, stopped breathing during his procedure and had to be revived, Kumar testified. Lawyers said that man ended his hunger strike after that.

Dr. Parveen Parmar, a professor at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California who has experience providing health care in jails, reviewed Kumar’s medical records for his lawyers and wrote a scathing critique of his care that was submitted to the court.

“This lack of appropriate attention to critically low blood pressure and astonishingly infrequent MD evaluations of a very ill patient, on whom treatments are being forced without their consent, would never be tolerated in any hospital and is, frankly, the worst medical care I have seen in my 10 years of practice,” Parmar wrote.

Montalvo cited Parmar’s findings – which ICE didn’t dispute in its filings with the court – in a Sept. 12 opinion that was critical of the care afforded Kumar.

“It is troubling that Respondent (Kumar) was not brought to an independent doctor for immediate evaluation upon initiation of his hunger strike,” Montalvo wrote.

Montalvo criticized Iglesias, though not by name, for failing to follow up on the reason the nasogastric tube coiled in the first two insertion attempts. He also highlighted several other examples of poor care identified by Parma.

“It is the duty of the Government to provide adequate medical care, not just to keep Respondent (Kumar) alive,” Montalvo wrote.

Despite his criticism, Montalvo’s Sept. 12 order said ICE could legally force-feed Kumar and other hunger strikers after obtaining court orders. He suggested, but did not order, ICE to obtain independent medical evaluations of future hunger strikers before seeking court permission for force-feeding.

Differing fates for hunger strikers

The force-feedings for Kumar, Singh and the third hunger striker who has asked not to be identified ended on Sept. 5, 22 days after they began, according to court records and information from attorneys. All three men continued refusing to eat, their attorneys said.

During their hunger strikes, the men received support from a number of nonprofit groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Detained Migrant Solidarity Committee, and Advocate Visitors with Immigrants in Detention in the Chihuahuan Desert.

Earlier this month, two of the four hunger strikers were deported to India, lawyers said. One man was in the 66th day of his hunger strike at the time, his lawyer Corchado said.

Iglesias “cleared him basically straight from her medical facility to the plane for India. He had not even had one meal,” Corchado testified.

In her testimony at the two hearings in August, Iglesias said a condition known as “refeeding syndrome” was a potentially lethal threat for people who resume eating after long periods of starvation. Such people require close medical attention as they resume eating, she said.

ICE officials didn’t immediately respond to questions of why one man was deported while nine weeks into a hunger strike and at risk of refeeding syndrome.

Iglesias told Singh and Kumar this week that she would sign release orders if they agreed to resume eating, lawyers Corchado and Miles said. The men asked for the commitment in writing from ICE. Kumar got that commitment on Friday, and Singh got it on Saturday, their lawyers said.

They have resumed eating and are being monitored for refeeding syndrome at the ICE’s El Paso Processing Center, Corchado and Miles said. They should be released within a week.

Ajay Kumar writing. Photo courtesy Linda Corchado.

Both men said they fled India to seek asylum in the United States because they were political activists and feared persecution or death if they stayed in their home country. Neither had lawyers during their immigration cases and their asylum claims were denied by judges. Both men now have lawyers and are appealing their asylum denials.

ICE has discretion to release or detain single adult asylum seekers while their cases are pending. Indians have said repeatedly that they feel that El Paso area ICE officials discriminate against them in detention decisions, an accusation ICE officials have denied.

Kumar and Singh both lost significant weight in their hunger strikes, but Singh’s condition seemed the most precarious. He weighed 89 pounds on Wednesday, down from 126 when he started his hunger strike, Miles said.

“I hope this is the last time that we have to do this. I hope that El Paso ICE will stop the harmful practice of force feeding,” she said. “I also hope that the injustices that led these men to stop eating will be addressed, that there will be an investigation into the across-the-board bond and asylum denials to Indian asylum seekers at Otero County Processing Center. Without access to justice, these men have to go to extremes to save their own lives. I never want to see another emaciated man begging for his freedom again.”

On Wednesday, Corchado made public a letter Kumar had written to the El Paso community, asking for help in his efforts to be free. He mentioned the Aug. 3 mass shooting in El Paso that killed 22 people. Police have said the gunman was targeting Hispanics and Mexican immigrants.

“I am a good citizen, and I am not a danger to people. I have no criminal record in India or in the United States. If saving/protecting one’s life and demanding freedom is a crime, then I have done it,” Kumar wrote. “I pray for the people who were killed in El Paso and pray that they rest in peace. I trust the people of El Paso and believe that they will help me gain my freedom. Thank you! El Paso Strong. I am strong.”

 

Click hear to read ICE agrees to release 2 Indian hunger strikers from El Paso-area detention facilities

Categories: Local Blogs

Words of support for the people of El Paso, Juarez from U.S. journalism professors who have been here

Sun, 09/22/2019 - 3:28pm

The shock and sorrow felt after the Aug. 3 attack on Borderland residents at an El Paso Walmart continues to resonate throughout the community more than a month after 22 people were killed in the mass shooting.

Near the site of the tragedy, an impromptu memorial of flowers, crosses and posters attracts a stream of visitors daily.  Words of support are still being sent by people from around the world to try to offer some comfort.

Borderzine has heard from a number of journalism professors who visited El Paso as part of the Dow Jones Multimedia Training Academy annual summer program that has been running for 10 years at UT El Paso. They wanted to share their own words to the community that made them feel welcome as they worked on stories about life here. This is what they want you to know.

Rick Brunson
Associate Instructor
Nicholson School of Communication and Media
University of Central Florida

Within an hour of landing in El Paso, I fell in love with it — even though I’d never visited the city.  My first stop after arriving for the Dow Jones Multimedia Training Academy at UTEP was the Whataburger on Mesa Street near campus.

At the table to my right, three high school girls — one white, one black, one Latina — chatted and gossiped away. At the table to my left, three construction workers — one Anglo and two Hispanics — laughed easily about their work day. Above me, a buzz of Spanish and English melded as naturally as the air I was breathing.

For the rest of week, I was welcomed as if I’d lived in El Paso all my life. The city’s hospitality won my heart. So much so that when I returned home to Orlando, I wrote a column about it that was picked up by 13 news organizations and won a national writing award. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/migrant-crisis-hits-us-border_b_5637289 But it wasn’t me. It was El Paso.

Now, from far away I mourn the darkness that has descended on the Sun City. But it will rise because the same love it showed me five years ago lives every day in the lives of its 700,000 citizens and is part of the city’s history, geography and DNA.

Love you, El Paso.

 

Jennifer Thomas
Assistant Professor
Department of Media, Journalism and Film
Howard University

My heart sank when l saw the news about the mass shooting. I’m praying for all of the families who’ve been affected and also for all of you and the community. I often think of our ‘17 cohort and how important the stories were that we covered … then and now.

 

Brad Mello
Associate Professor, Department Chair
Communication Department
St. Xavier University

I came across these historical markers during our day exploring the border/wall as part of the multimedia training workshop and learned of the rich history of the region. 

The residents of the area have always been resilient, as the stories on these markers reveal and I know they’ll figure out how to move forward in the face of this tragedy.

 

Karima A. Haynes
Assistant Professor
Bowie State University, Maryland

I am heartbroken over the slaughter of innocent people in El Paso.

I first visited El Paso as part of the 2016 Dow Jones Multimedia Training Academy. I loved the beautiful blend of Mexican and Native American culture set against the backdrop of the Old American West.

Hispanic, African-American and Caucasian people moved as easily between Juárez and El Paso as they did switching from English to Spanish. Our team of journalism professors from HBCUs and HSIs, and trainers from UTEP, were just as diverse and cohesive — which is not an oxymoron.

El Paso will always be in my heart.

 

 Geoff Campbell
Adjunct Assistant Professor
UT Arlington Department of Communication

My heart ached when news of the Walmart mass shooting broke. My mind raced with thoughts of the all the beautiful people I met when, in June 2018, I attended the Dow Jones News Fund Multimedia Training Academy at UTEP.

It was the first time I’d been to El Paso in some 20 years, and I wasn’t certain what to expect.

What I encountered was love. I was struck by the pride of everyday El Pasoans in their city and its rich, multicultural stew. From Uber drivers to craft brewers, from former and current governmental leaders to restaurant wait staff, I felt the city’s great spirit of welcome and pride. It is with me still. And it comes as no surprise to me that the city is meeting this tragedy with love.

 

Farideh Dada
Instructor
De Anza and at San Jose City colleges

I’ve been following the El Paso news and have been saddened by the recent tragedy. My heart goes to you and the beautiful El Paso community.

I’m with you in spirit. Please take care of yourself.

 

 
Stu VanAirsdale
Professional Journalist in Residence
Sacramento State University

While attending the Dow Jones News Fund’s Multimedia Training Academy in 2016, I was assigned to report on the planned revival of the El Paso Streetcar. My team, drawn from journalism professors in California, Texas, and Louisiana, spent an afternoon downtown surveying the streetcar’s planned route and considering its century-old legacy as a link between El Paso and Juárez.

Amid the reporting, I was struck by a mural overlooking a parking lot on Stanton Street: “Ánimo Sin Fronteras” (“Spirit Without Borders”), by the street artist El Mac. The mural depicts Melchor Flores, who for years has sought answers in the disappearance of his son in Nuevo Leon in 2009. The piece is a companion to “Juarense y Poderosa,” El Mac’s mural in Juárez depicting a young woman named Diana whose mother was kidnapped years earlier.

The murals testify to not only the bond between the two cities, but the capacity for resilience and defiance in the face of anguish, terror, and what can only be described as pathological political inaction.

While El Paso has been on my mind in recent weeks amid coverage of detentions and spiraling asylum policy at the border, it wasn’t until news of the shooting that I recalled “Ánimo Sin Flores.” It wasn’t until contemplating Flores’ expression of strength that I aligned it with El Paso’s own redoubtability. It wasn’t until reflecting on the grace, kindness, vibrancy, flintiness and imagination of those Paseños and Juarenses whom I encountered in 2016 that I grasped Flores’ gesture as an emblem of all that the borderland has to offer this country. It says to me one thing: No matter how long and hard we have to resist or fight tragedy and dehumanization, we must resist and fight them.

I’m grateful to El Paso for what it showed me, and what it will no doubt show America in the weeks and months and years ahead.

 

Laura Castañeda
Lecturer, Internship coordinator
San Diego State University

My heart goes out to all of you in El Paso right now.  Not only you as citizens of that beautiful border region, but also all of the journalists who are out there covering the tragic stories.

 El Paso is very special to me because as I told you when we went, El Paso is the birthplace of my father, Ignacio.  He attended Sacred Heart Catholic School in the barrio.  My family has since left El Paso for Illinois, but my dad remembers places, names, and streets vividly.  My sisters and I recently gathered in my current home in San Diego to celebrate his 80th birthday.  I think about the victims and families who will no longer to do that. 

I remember during my stay going to the swap meet with the big white horse outside.  I also had the fortune of going to a very old diner called Lydia’s with my classmates to cover that story. They were a pioneer family of sorts and again it just haunts me to think about the many victims who probably visited these sites on a happy occasion.

My heart is heavy for all of you in El Paso. 

Un abrazo fuerte.

 

Lourdes Cueva Chacon
Doctoral candidate and former Borderzine webmaster
School of Journalism
The University of Texas at Austin

El Paso occupies a very important place in my heart and my mind — which is similar but not the same. I went there to study my master’s degree and, in addition to knowledge, I found much more in the process. I found a community that opened their houses and hearts to foreigners. I found a community that was proud of  its history. A community that suffered from oversight and oblivion from the centers of power but nonetheless fought for what was right for them and newcomers. A community that appreciates the value of multiple cultures and languages coexisting and enriching each other.

Looking at our former UTEP and Borderzine students coming back to report for national news organizations breaks my heart and fills me with pride at the same time. They come from a long line of courageous women and men that value family, the big family of humanity that has members across borders and across languages.

 

Dan Evans
Associate Professor, Journalism
News Director, South Florida News Service
Florida International University

A bit more than a year ago, I attended a multimedia training put on by faculty at the University of Texas, El Paso and sponsored by the Dow Jones News Fund. Outside of a gas stop on my trek on I-10 from California to Miami, it was the first time I had been to the border city.

Still, much of it felt familiar. I grew up in San Diego, so popping over to a foreign country for a bite or a drink on a whim didn’t seem all that odd. I was also used to the dichotomy between the Mexican and U.S. sides – El Paso vs. Ciudad Juárez and San Diego vs. Tijuana.

That is, that the American cities were clean, well-maintained, safe and orderly while the Mexican ones were chaotic messes filled with crime. The recent shootings in Gilroy, El Paso and Dayton may have changed these perceptions, at least outside of the hyper-partisan bubble so often seen on cable television.

Though I have been to the Gilroy Garlic Festival and tasted the infamous garlic ice cream (pro tip: don’t), the Walmart shooting in El Paso affected me so much more. I could almost feel the dry heat mixing with the cold sweat of terror that must have dampened the shirts of hundreds of shoppers and dripped from the brows of dozens of police officers who ran into harm’s way.

My first thought was simply: “My god. Why El Paso? They don’t deserve this.” And then: “Why should any city, anywhere, deserve this? Isn’t this America? Aren’t we supposed to be better than this?” And then, sadly: “Not yet.”

Putting aside how things are going to get better, and how that might be done, one thing is certain: El Paso will endure. Despite my relatively brief time in the area, I was struck by so many Pasenos’ endurance, internal steel and, yes, stubbornness — traits seemingly required to live and thrive in often unforgiving landscape that is West Texas.

As part of my time in the multimedia academy, our little team of reporters focused on a group of mostly women keeping a vigil over the developers – and bulldozers – attempting to remake their neighborhood. Duranguito is in a rapidly gentrifying part of downtown El Paso, with the land suddenly worth far more than ever before. But for these women, the area had been their home for decades, and they had no intention of moving. (If you’re interested, here’s the story: http://borderzine.com/2018/06/on-the-wake-of-pancho-villas-140th-birthday-three-women-wage-a-battle-against-gentrification-in-el-pasos-oldest-neighborhood/)

A quick check of news about the neighborhood indicates the fight – despite the increasingly heavy odds to those opposed to development – continues on. This does not surprise me, but it stands as near proof-positive that El Paso will survive this senseless tragedy and, against all odds, that something good will come of it.

Click hear to read Words of support for the people of El Paso, Juarez from U.S. journalism professors who have been here

Categories: Local Blogs

News media complicit in perpetuating micro aggressions that devalue Latinos, researchers say

Thu, 08/22/2019 - 7:54am

Under this President, there has been a predictable rise in white nationalism, hate crimes, and the soul-crushing violence against Spanish-speaking immigrants and anyone who might sound or look like one.

The August 3 attack on the people of our binational community of El Paso woke us up to the realization that legality or illegality was never the real issue; language and skin color was, as the black population in the U.S. has long known.  Many far more articulate and thick-skinned than I have dissected, addressed, and contextualized these sentiments and behaviors.

I hope to use this space, instead, to address smaller, more hidden behaviors, invisible to most except to those who are targeted; behaviors that the media are not addressing, because they are either complacent or complicit.  These behaviors have been termed “microaggressions,” an expression first used in the 1970s by a psychiatrist, Dr. Chester Pierce, and defined by Columbia professor Deral Sue as:

“brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color.” 

Some examples of racial microaggressions include such phrases as “but where are you really from?” or “funny, you don’t sound like a _______.”  More examples can be found at the following website. https://sph.umn.edu/site/docs/hewg/microaggressions.pdf.  Even better, read Claudia Rankine’s prose/poetry book, Citizen.

Linguistic anthropologist Jane Hill coined another term similar to microaggression as she turned her attention to the racialized use of Spanish by Anglos in Latinx communities in the Southwest: mock Spanish.  Web sites that examine mock Spanish and its influence include the following: https://www.kibin.com/essay-examples/the-prevalence-of-mock-spanish-in-the-american-media-zbbf20N7; https://www.latinorebels.com/2016/10/20/trump-relies-on-mock-spanish-to-talk-about-immigration-opinion/; https://languagesinconflict.wordpress.com/tag/mock-spanish/

My understanding of the term is that privileged white speakers can say and do small things that indicate superiority to or derision of minorities without being held accountable.  This behavior can be disguised as humor or ignorance or deemed to be irrelevant by the speaker.

Because each of these events seem insignificant and responsibility for them is easily dismissed, they are often overlooked, except by the people of color who are the target.  And even as most of the news media outlets have been quick to decry the overt assaults on our pluralistic society, they have been silently complicit in it.

Now is the time to come to grips with this phenomenon.  For example, how many persons of color (or women, who coincidentally [or not]have not been perpetrators of violent behavior) host prime-time television news programs?  When they are on camera, I’ve noticed we more often find token representatives in the early morning, late at night, or on weekends. How many persons of color are on the editorial boards of the Washington Post and the New York Times?  Why?  And if persons of color were more valued in the media, would it not be more difficult for them to be devalued in everyday life?

Related: Changing the complexion of news media calls for revolución 

When horrific events such as the Walmart shooting in El Paso happen, do national newsrooms send ace reporters who speak only English and parachute in to communities of color to interview only people who speak English or use local interpreters, or do they send a bilingual journalist who can communicate in English and Spanish?  How many Spanish speaking reporters, I wonder, currently work in mainstream newsrooms of legacy media, or for national broadcast and cable news networks, other than Spanish-language Telemundo and Univision?

Is a Spanish-speaking journalist more or less qualified than an English-speaking reporter to cover major events in a Latino majority community? Is an Anglo reporter with deep ties in a minority community as qualified to cover local news as one who speaks Spanish?  Who decides?

One of the maxims drilled into journalism students is to make sure they get the spelling of someone’s right, to double check it, to make sure to get right the source’s affiliation and title.

Apparently, no such rule applies to the mispronunciation on newscasts of the names of persons of Latino or other ethnic or racial backgrounds.   Some stumbling over unfamiliar words may be understandable, but not something so intimate as a person’s name. Every instance of mispronunciation of people’s names is a hostile act.

I have even heard journalists mispronounce a Latino co-worker’s name, crossing the line between covert and overt aggression. I’ve noticed that some people with non-Anglo, foreign-sounding names either mispronounce their own names or shorten or anglicize their names to better fit into the dominant society. Their reasoning, perhaps, is to make it easier for monolingual English speakers to pronounce their names. I applaud those who don’t.

Ironically, French names seem so much easier for the media to pronounce. I contend that it is not linguistically more difficult, but that it is socially more grievous to mispronounce French words.  This is why British accents appear cultured while Spanish accents often strike Anglo Americans as uneducated.

 I am appalled every time a new, slightly difficult name hits the newsroom. Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi died not only of the deadly cuts administered by his Saudi murderers, but by the thousands of small cuts to his memory in the way newscasters mispronounced his name.

In Texas, German was once more prevalent than English. Could this be a reason why the name Schwarzenegger rolls off the tongue, or alternatively and partly in jest, why Jane Hill (mentioned above) titled one of her scholarly articles “Hasta La Vista Baby?” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZosMKUC3zk

How did we, a nation of immigrants, come to a place of not caring enough about our neighbors to learn to say their names properly?  How did some Americans come to believe that someone who speaks another language doesn’t belong in this country? How did we get to a place where bilingual speakers are hesitant to use a language other than English in public spaces? Whatever happened to our country’s traditional motto, the Latin phrase on the Great Seal of the United States: e pluribus unum (from many, one)?

This country has a long history of disrespecting people’s names, changing or inventing them to suit themselves or the government’s need for paperwork.  Names were changed at Ellis Island by inspectors, by immigrants themselves or by the shipping companies who brought the immigrants there.

In the plantation-era south, slaves were the given names of their owners or the plantations they were sold to.  Native Americans were given names that suited officialdom. This is our legacy of conquest and domination, despite the fact that our country abounds with place names that originated in Native American and Spanish and French words.  About half of state names are derivations of Native words– even Kentucky (derived from the Iroquoian word kentahten meaning “land of tomorrow.”)

As we reflect on the current horrific mass violence that plagues this country, and the fear it has engendered, we all need to examine the ways in which all of us have intentionally or unwittingly allowed this climate of hate to fester. Those with stronger megaphones and larger audiences such as the news media especially need to reflect on how they may be amplifying messages that contribute to violence and hate speech against people of color.

After they acknowledge the problem and express a sincere desire to correct shortcomings, there must be greater representation in news media of all segments of our society; diversity has been and always will be our strength, not our undoing.

Second, newsrooms across the country need to do some soul searching.  To reiterate a previous statement:  if persons of color were more valued in the media, would it not be more difficult for them to be devalued in everyday life?

Third, I suggest a course, even a short one, in phonetics for journalists to train their ears to hear the subtleties of spoken language.  There is even a website where you can hear names pronounced, and perhaps practice (www.pronouncenames.com).  I cannot, however, vouch for perfection from the site for all names.

Finally, we need to keep an eye (and an ear) out for our own bias, and whenever and wherever microaggressions occur, call them out for what they are–BS. 

Click hear to read News media complicit in perpetuating micro aggressions that devalue Latinos, researchers say

Categories: Local Blogs

Social media reflects community response as news of attack at El Paso Walmart unfolds

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 5:13pm
The El Paso Police Department received first call about an active shooter at the Walmart near Cielo Vista Mall at 10:39 a.m. Within six minutes, first responders from around the city arrived on scene. Later, the police would determine there were no shots fired at the mall and the attack was only at the Walmart.

Soon after learning of the shooting, former congressman Beto O’Rourke announced he was suspending his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination to return to his hometown of El Paso.

The El Paso Fire Department shares a tweet confirming that the family reunification center for families looking for their loved ones is at MacArthur Middle School near Cielo Vista Mall.

 

At 2:10 p.m. Saturday, President Donald Trump tweeted about the shooting.

El Paso reporter Keenan Willard says water and ice are needed at MacArthur Middle School and the Pebble Hills police station.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott confirms 20 people are dead and over two dozen have been injured following the shooting at the Cielo Vista Walmart in El Paso, making it the eighth-deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Three hours after emphasizing the need for donations, the El Paso Fire Department announces blood donation centers are at capacity.

Texas Governor Abbott, first responders and city officials conduct a briefing for the media. El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen says “right now we have a manifesto that indicates a nexus to hate crimes.”

U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar emphasizes that the suspect in custody “is someone who came from outside our community to do us harm. A community that has shown nothing but generosity and kindness to the least among us – those people arriving at America’s front door.”

 

El Paso Mayor Dee Margo reiterates on social media that the El Paso gunman was not a local and thanks El Paso’s first responders for their efforts throughout the day.

O’Rourke tweets that anyone concerned about contacting El Paso authorities to reach out to the Hope Border Institute in the wake of the shooting.

The El Paso Fire Department announces that MacArthur Middle School is at capacity for item donations.

Residents of Ciudad Juárez gather for a vigil to honor victims of the El Paso shooting.

A line of donation-laden vehicles arrived at Del Sol Medical Center, where several of the shooting victims were taken.

The gunman in the El Paso shooting is identified as a 21-year-old man from Allen, Texas, named Patrick Crusius. He is booked at the downtown El Paso jail for capital murder.

Community members continue to line up to donate blood, time, and supplies the morning after the El Paso shooting.

El Paso County District Attorney Jaime Esparza announces prosecutors will seek the death penalty for Crusius.

El Paso community members take to social media with #ElPasoStrong in response to Saturday’s deadly mass shooting.

The next days see the Borderland community coming together to process the tragedy and begin trying to heal.

 

Click hear to read Social media reflects community response as news of attack at El Paso Walmart unfolds

Categories: Local Blogs

El Paso native reflects on mass shooting from Austin

Sat, 08/10/2019 - 1:49pm

It seemed incomprehensible at first to understand or express my thoughts and emotions after last week’s mass shooting at the Walmart new Cielo Vista Mall. Now that a few days have passed and we can reflect on what’s happened.

 I was washing dishes in my Austin home the morning of Aug. 3 when my boyfriend texted me. He sent me a screen shot from Twitter, soon followed by a CNN alert: “Police … El Paso… Cielo Vista Mall … active shooter … lockdown.”

He asked me if my family lived in that area – they don’t. I immediately sent a group text to my loved ones to make sure they were safe. None of them were in the area and all were safely at home. However, my relief quickly turned to horror as details emerged.

The next few hours were nothing short of a nightmare as I anxiously scrolled through social media and watched the national news outlets.

Pain set in as additional details unfolded —a lone white gunman, 20 Hispanic victims, six from nearby Ciudad Juarez; about two dozen injured men, women and children at the busy Walmart near the city’s largest mall; an anti-immigrant manifesto released by the suspect on a social media web site.

 I muted the TV and sobbed into my hands. I felt as if I had been violated; as if my hometown and all my Hispanic brothers and sisters across the nation had been violated. I was angry and I felt helpless. I wasn’t just watching breaking news anymore; I was watching terror unfold in my hometown.

 

Grief Comes in Waves

Day two after the shooting was the hardest. The victims’ names were being released, photos were appearing on news channels and social media, and interviews with the victims’ families were airing. The faces of the innocent people who lost their lives flashed through my head like jump cuts in a film. I didn’t know any of them personally, but they might as well have been my abuelo, my tia, my prima, mi hermano. Tears welled up and rolled down my cheeks in waves. I would regain my composure for a minute or two. Then my chest would begin to heave as I wept again, asking myself “Why hurt my people? Why El Paso?”

I later watched CNN’s Anderson Cooper interview Octavio Lizarde, a victim shot while inside the bank at the retailer. His nephew, Javier Amir Rodriguez, was killed. Lizarde said he was opening an account to cash his paycheck, and went to the to buy clothes and shoes. As he stood in line, the gunman walked in and opened fire. The power of that image brought me to my knees – the injustice. I then prayed for some sort of hope to emerge from these ashes of hatred.

 

El Paso is United

Since the shooting, the news has been filled with more gruesome, horrendous details of the mass shooting at the hands of a young white man from Allen, Texas, who posted a white supremacist diatribe shortly before opening fire. I’ve seen the political articles flood my news feeds since the shooting, but they pale in comparison to the many stories I’ve heard and read centering around how El Pasoans are uniting to care of one another. El Pasoans watch over each other; it’s what we do and who we are. 

Blood donation centers were packed. People brought water bottles to those waiting in line to give blood. Crosses were placed along the fence of Walmart as the names of the now 22 victims were released. Vigils were held with hundreds of people gathering to mourn and remember those who lost their lives. GoFundMe accounts surpassed their goals by thousands of dollars to take care of the expenses for victims’ families Over and over, the resounding message was something like, “This is my El Paso. This is what we do. We are united. We’re familia.” It is true.

 

What Makes Us Strong

The thread I’ve seen woven throughout each interview and story is forgiveness. Some family members of the victims have said: “We forgive (the shooter). We don’t hate him.”

Or, in Lizarde’s words: “If God was able to forgive. . . then I forgive as well.” This is what makes the people of El Paso unique—they do not repay evil for evil. Instead, they forgive. Even as they mourn, they forgive.

What happened that Saturday morning was atrocious — there are no words to describe the evil that took place. I’m still heartbroken, angry and confused. But we are not without hope and we are not without strength. I think the way forward has already been shown to us by these brave men, women, and families who are still grieving. To me, they are an example of resilience, love, and all that is good in the face of adversity. 

This is what I believe, El Paso — the shooting is not what makes you. Your love, unity, forgiveness, bravery, and strength are what you are and will continue to be known for. Let’s press on to find hope. Let’s grieve together. Let’s heal together. Let’s be #ElPasoStrong. 

Click hear to read El Paso native reflects on mass shooting from Austin

Categories: Local Blogs

From across the globe to El Paso, changes in the language of the far-right explain its current violence

Tue, 08/06/2019 - 3:39pm

By Arie Perliger, University of Massachusetts Lowell

The recent shooting attack in which a young white man is accused of killing 22 people in a Walmart in El Paso fits a new trend among perpetrators of far-right violence: They want the world to know why they did it.

So they provide a comprehensive ideological manifesto that aims to explain the reasoning behind their actions as well as to encourage others to follow in their steps.

In the past, only leaders of far-right groups did this. Now, it’s common among lone-wolf perpetrators, such as the alleged perpetrator in El Paso.

In the past decade, the language of white supremacists has transformed in important ways. It crossed national borders, broadened its focus and has been influenced by current mainstream political discourse.

I study political violence and extremism. In my recent research, I have identified these changes and believe that they can provide important insights into the current landscape of the American and European violent far-right.

The changes also allow us to understand how the violent far-right mobilizes support, shapes political perceptions and eventually advances their objectives.

Vigil on Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, for the fallen in the El Paso Walmart shooting on Saturday. Photo by Kate Gannon, Borderzine.com

New identity crosses borders

Since the early stages of the American white supremacy movement in the mid-19th century, the movement has always emphasized the superiority of Western culture and the need for segregation between racial groups in order to maintain the purity and dominance of the white race.

For example, in the 1980s, a Ku Klux Klan affiliate published a map allocating specific parts of the U.S. to specific ethnic communities. The map makers imagined Jews limited to the New York area, while Hispanics were to live in Florida.

But recently, a growing number of far-right activists have preferred to focus on cultural and social differences between communities, rather than on attributes such as race and ethnic origin.

They justify their violence as a way to preserve certain cultural-religious practices, rather than relying on their old justification – maintaining the genetic purity of the white race. In these activists’ view, the battle has moved from genes to culture.

For example, a member of the National Socialist Movement, an American neo-Nazi organization, wrote in a 2018 online post that white American is an identity like African American or Jewish American. In a statement that probably wouldn’t have been made by previous generations of neo-Nazis, the member wrote that all whites should come together, using their knowledge and weapons, to stop non-Europeans from pushing their secular agenda via government and media power.

Countering liberal left’s cultural influence

Another traditional theme of the far-right discourse – preserving the patriarchal order from attacks from the left – has grown in prominence.

Andres Breivik, who killed 77 people and injured more than 300 in July 2011 in Europe’s most lethal act of white supremacism, issued a manifesto shortly before his rampage.

In it, he stated that the politically correct terminology which is becoming more prevalent in the West intends to “deny the intrinsic worth of native Christian European heterosexual males” who were reduced to an “emasculate[d]… touchy-feely subspecies.”

Such sentiments are becoming more prevalent in the white supremacist forums, and reflect another component of what they perceived as an ongoing cultural war to preserve the white Christian way of life.

New transnational culture

The declining emphasis by the far-right on nationalism has led to the adoption of a transnational identity based on race, culture and religion.

Simply put, they feel closer to whites in other countries than non-whites who live in their neighborhood.

This explains why we have seen a global spread of violent white nationalism in recent years as the far-right finds kinship with like-minded nationalists in other countries.

Racial identity was always a prime component in the identity of far-right activists, but it was usually framed by local politics. In the past, racist British skinheads focused mainly on what they perceived as the interests of the British white working class. Today the rhetoric of most skinheads focuses on international geopolitics, although local issues haven’t been abandoned.

The attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, in which an Australian white supremacist killed 51 Muslim worshippers in a mosque on March 15, 2019, reflects that far-right activists seem to increasingly embrace a regional, if not global, perspective in the way they define their constituencies and the threats they are facing.

The Christchurch attacker’s manifesto was clearly inspired by far-right rhetoric from European and American groups, such as notions of “white genocide.” He specifically mentions Norway’s Breivik as a role model.

Legitimizing far-right ideology in the US

In the U.S., what’s different about the current rhetoric of the far-right is that they are now using terminology that can also be found in some mainstream political parties and movements, aiding their efforts to gain popular legitimacy.

For example, the United Northern and Southern Knights of the Ku Klux Klan released a new set of organizational goals a couple of years ago. Beyond their longstanding, bedrock belief – the protection of the white race – they also declare support for restricting immigration and free trade and ending or limiting foreign aid. They want government to provide protection to small businesses, agricultural workers and gun owners.

This broad ideological shift also spilled over to some far-right skinhead organizations. Volksfront, for example, declares in its online mission statement that beyond white nationalism, the organization will fight for economic issues, states’ rights, crime repression and labor rights.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s language about the need to restore order to the streets of America, as expressed in his inaugural address, is also evident in the language of American white supremacists. In a poster produced by the skinhead group Keystone United, they call for harsher punishments for drug dealers.

The demand for stricter punishment of criminals is echoed in many racist group platforms. These include support of death penalty expansion, an important point of discussion mainly in skinhead message boards, and levying harsher punishments for sexual offenses.

Since minorities are overrepresented among American incarcerated population, far-right activists see these criminal justice policies as a more “legitimate” way to “punish” members of minority groups.

Two future trends

These changes in the discourse of the far-right suggest two important trends.

The first is the growth in the international nature of far-right violence, posing a challenge to law enforcement across borders.

Second, the growing overlap between the language of the far-right and the rhetoric of elected officials illustrates how the current polarization in the political system, and delegitimization of minorities by political leaders, can provide legitimacy for radical practices and violence and broader acceptance of ideas, concepts and statements that in the past were the domain of the far-right.

I fear these dynamics are likely to encourage additional far-right activists to express their views via violence. The emerging evidence that the El Paso shooter was inspired by popular theories in the far-right rhetorical universe, such as that of the “great replacement,” is a clear warning sign.

[ Deep knowledge, daily. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter. ]

Arie Perliger, Director of Security Studies and Professor, University of Massachusetts Lowell

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Click hear to read From across the globe to El Paso, changes in the language of the far-right explain its current violence

Categories: Local Blogs

EPISD will require measles immunization proof before school begins

Fri, 07/26/2019 - 8:12pm

By Sophia Navarro

El Paso Independent School District students will have to show proof
they’ve taken both doses of the measles vaccine, or they won’t be allowed
to attend school in the fall, a spokesman said.

The move comes after the six cases of measles have been confirmed in
the El Paso area as of early July, said Gustavo Reveles, a district
spokesman.

“Students must provide proof of immunization compliance upon
registration,” Reveles said. “At this moment, whatever is set in place for
now for the 2019-2020 school year is the procedure we are following.”
The district expects parents to comply and does not anticipate a drop in
attendance due to the new requirement, Reveles said.

The district will comply with a recommendation from the El Paso
Department of Public Health to drop its provisional enrollment policy and
require all students to show proof of both doses of the MMR (mumps,
measles, and rubella) vaccine before being able to attend school, Reveles
said.

The El Paso Department of Public Health, 5115 El Paso Drive, is one of three clinics offering low-cost MMR vaccines with extended hours as the school year approaches. El Paso Independent School District is requiring all students to have both doses of the vaccine prior to the start of the 2019-2020 school year.

It was not a surprise that after 25 years measles have returned to El Paso
since other states have seen a return as well, said Dr. Fernando Gonzalez,
lead epidemiologist at the El Paso Department of Public Health.
More than 1,148 cases of measles have been confirmed in 30 states since
January, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Prior to this school year, the district allowed students to enroll with only one
dose of each state-required vaccine with an agreement that the subsequent
doses be completed as soon as possible. Due to the current
circumstances, that provision has been eliminated for the 2019-2020
academic year.

Exception forms allowing students to attend classes without immunization
will still be accepted for religious and personal beliefs. Exemptions are
verified and allocated by the state, Reveles said.

The city is urging everyone to get vaccinated and look into their current
vaccination status to be sure they are protected, Gonzalez said.

Immunizations are being offered at three city clinics at $10 per child for one
vaccine and $15 per child for two or more vaccines under the Texas
Vaccine for Children program and Adult Safety Net according to a news
release from the city of El Paso. The clinics will have extended hours, from
7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and remaining open during lunch hour, in order to make
vaccines more convenient.

A sign at the Henderson Health Clinic shows the recommended vaccines for young children. The El Paso Department of Public Health is urging area school superintendents to require both doses of the MMR vaccine prior to the start of the school year, and to remove the provisional enrollment policy for the 2019-2020 school year.

Measles is an aggressive disease that happens mostly in youth, but also in
adolescents and adults and can pose a serious health threat, Gonzalez
said.

To prevent measles, the two-shot immunization MMR is required by the
state to enroll in school. The first shot has a 94 percent effectiveness
rating, according to Gonzalez. Combined with the second dose, the
effectiveness climbs to 97 percent.

The first dose is recommended at a year old. The second dose is
recommended after the age of four.

There is no scientific evidence that MMR vaccine causes autism or poses
any serious threat to an individual.

A young boy shows off his Band-Aid after receiving a shot at the Henderson Health Clinic on July 25, 2019.

People who don’t have access to the MMR vaccine and to protect children
too young to receive the vaccine, people should wash their hands often and
avoid areas where measles cases have been reported, said Registered
Nurse Jaimi Zona at the El Paso Public Health Department’s Henderson
Health Clinic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 90 percent
of people not MMR-vaccinated will become infected. Symptoms appear
seven-14 days after contracted and infected people can spread measles to
others from four days before through four days after the rash appears.

Measles is spread through coughing and sneezing and the disease usually begins with fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes. Measles can live in an airspace where an infected was, for up to two hours.

If showing signs and symptoms of a measles infection, people should visit
their medical care provider or call 2-1-1 to receive further instruction.

This story was produced as part of the Journalism in July 2019 workshop for high school students at UT El Paso.

Click hear to read EPISD will require measles immunization proof before school begins

Categories: Local Blogs


by Dr. Radut