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Immigrant possessions disappear during deportation

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On a warm day in September, a young man sits in a soup kitchen on the Mexican side of Nogales. He has just been deported from the United States without his belongings. Here at the comedor, he is surrounded by more than 30 others who have also been deported and are in need of assistance to get home. Luis, who was only willing to give his first name, is 24 years old and unsure of what awaits him when he returns to his hometown. Still wearing the identifiable prison release uniform, a light blue shirt and blue jean pants, Luis just finished serving almost 16 months in an Arizona prison. When he was released from detention and returned to Mexico, Luis was missing two smart phones, clothing, $200 and his Mexican identification card. The only money available to him...

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Homeless youth find help in Tucson

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  According to the National Center on Family Homelessness, Arizona is the fifth worst in the United States for child homelessness. Every year, more than 62,000 children throughout Arizona are displaced through no fault of their own. Homeless youth are four times more likely to drop out of school. Youth on their Own in Tucson works to eliminate barriers to education for homeless youth by proving them with financial assistance, guidance and security. Click here for a video...

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Huge housing plan could deplete San Pedro

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A massive new housing development proposed in Benson could empty the San Pedro River Valley aquifer, impacting agriculture, ranches and wildlife from Mexico to Winkelman. The builder, El Dorado Housing Inc., plans to build a Tuscan-style complex of 28,000 homes over 12,324 acres along the San Pedro River. Complete with an 18-hole golf course, parks, recreation center and nature trails, the development looks to reinvent the desert community. The project would more than double the rate at which the town pumps its water now. Often times, if water is drawn out of aquifers too quickly, there will be little time for the pool to recharge and other water sources in the area, such as the San Pedro River, will run dry as well. “The planned pumping will significantly increase the rate of depletion of the deeper aquifer beneath Benson...

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‘Barrio Stories’ comes to Tucson

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A freight train howls in the distance as a pedestrian sits cross-legged and lights a cigarette, watching curiously as floodlights wash over nearly a dozen actors moving about the Tucson Convention Center grounds on a soft February night. Borderlands Theater is rehearsing Barrio Stories, an unconventional new production that will run from March 3 to 6 throughout the TCC campus and adjacent La Placita Village downtown. The weekend-long show includes 41 actors and 60 extras — ranging from first-timers to local professionals — who will perform three separate plays written by Elaine Romero, Virginia Grise and Martín Zimmerman, and directed by Marc David Pinate, Borderlands producing director. The interactive, outdoor presentation will recreate the neighborhood that was razed when TCC was erected in the late 1960s. The stories recall the decades when local residents never locked their doors and...

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A fine line between participation and disrespect

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  Yes, we’ve all seen them. Stashed among the droves of revelers on Halloween, flooding the streets in small masses of glitter and leather, a Pocahottie will emerge from behind the crowd, with fringed suede frock hiked high above her knees, a feathered headband framing her face, smeared red from the ambiguous tribal paint that didn’t survive the sweaty evening. Next to her, two guys in striped ponchos give each other a high five, disturbing their cartoonish sombreros and skewing their oversized black moustaches in laughter.  Saris, kimonos, black braids, and turbans have become staples of Halloween, a veritable United Nations of cultural representation that many would argue is highly distasteful. Cultural appropriation, the adoption of cultural elements that are not one’s own, has been a hot button issue in recent years, most notably surrounding the costumes and physical...

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Hotline aids families of border crossers

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  The office of Coalición de Derechos Humanos is quiet on this Thursday afternoon. At a long table by the door, the knotted brows of volunteers are lit by MacBooks as they comb over papers and speak quietly on cell phones. A tapestry of La Virgen de Guadalupe hangs below a clock by the window, framed by silver tinsel and an oversized purple and white rosary.  The single room is dimly lit by privacy windows, afternoon sunlight bouncing off endless stacks of papers, colorful tissue flowers, posters and plastic bins overflowing with white wooden crosses, many of which are labeled “UNK” for unknown.  One cross for every body found in the desert.  There are hundreds strewn around the office. “There are 2,771 crosses, so 2,771 human remains since 2000,” says Cristen VernonCoalición de Derechos Humanos, Missing Migrant Hotline coordinator...

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Group defends, advocates for transgender detainees

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  Karolina Lopez considers herself a woman.  Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents do not. Lopez is transgender. She immigrated to the United States to escape discrimination in her home country of Mexico, only to encounter further abuse in Arizona. She spent three years in the all-male ICE detention center in Eloy, Arizona. She remembers them as the worst years of her life. The guards played keep-away with her false breasts. Other detainees stole her food and she often went days without eating. She received threats of injury and rape.    “I would never wish for anyone to suffer as I did,” Lopez said.  Such cruel treatment is a reality for many transgender migrants in the U.S. Almost 40 percent of transgender women incarcerated in ICE facilities have reported suffering sexual abuse, according to a 2013 report by the Bureau...

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Border artist paints new tint on the fence

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  Thick, rusty-brown steel plates loom 20-feet high over Ambos Nogales, signaling the physical and symbolic delineation between the United States and Mexico.  Ana Teresa Fernández wants to change that.  In October, she took to the streets with her tools of resistance, paint and a paint brush, to “erase the border” in Ambos Nogales. She chose a pale blue to give the impression that the wall is an extension of the sky. In 2012, Fernández, a bi-national artist based in San Francisco, painted the border fence in Tijuana, Mexico, the colors of the sand and sea that could be seen through the tall posts.   Her art in Nogales and Tijuana has gained national attention as part of a larger movement of art and activism along both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border that is re-imagining what the border looks like...

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Legislative roundup: Fast-paced finished to session

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PHOENIX — The hours dragged on Thursday into the evening and then into the early morning Friday as lawmakers moved bill after bill to reach a historic — and chaotic — early finish to the legislative session. Sine die, Latin for “without day,” marks the end of the session for the Arizona Legislature, which is supposed to finish its work in 100 days. This year it finished in just 81 days — the shortest in decades. Following the early passage of the budget last month, major bills remained on the calendar for the final week. Sine die Legislators attempted to speed bills through during the hectic final day. While the Senate began its day early and moved quickly, things got bogged down in the House with more members speaking on bills. The Senate adjourned sine die Friday morning around...

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Legislative dreams buried in session’s final days

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PHOENIX — Concealed weapons in buildings. Ending Common Core. No texting while driving. All dead this legislative session. These would-be bills joined many others that passed away either in the legislative chamber or by gubernatorial fiat. The first death began with a bill to put Arizona on Daylight Savings Time. After negative feedback, the sponsor killed it before the session even started. It would be just the first in a slew of bills to perish under the Copper Dome. Some died very public deaths on the floor. Others died without the dignity of a public hearing.. There was the controversial HB 2320, which would have allowed those with concealed weapons permits to bring guns in public buildings and events. Enough Republicans drew on this bill to shoot it down in the Senate. Bills aimed at undoing the Common Core...

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