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People who care lost in the border rhetoric

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Political contenders jockey for attention on how tough their immigration policies are or what can be done to reform the system, while everyday people in Arizona go into the desert to provide humanitarian aid to migrants. One couple, John and Diane Hoelter, volunteer with Humane Borders to provide water to migrants crossing the Southern Arizona desert, a dangerous journey that has claimed many lives. According to the 2014 Annual Report from the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner, they have received 2,330 recovered remains of suspected undocumented border crossers since 2001. There were 129 bodies recovered in 2014, the overall trend has been going down since a peak of 223 bodies were recovered in 2010. Because most of the bodies recovered are so badly decomposed or in skeletal remains only, 84 percent had undetermined causes of death. For...

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Despite benefits, rural communities struggle to attract medical professionals

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When it comes to primary healthcare in rural communities, Arizona is falling short of health practitioners needed. Whether they’re located in the dense forests of Northern Arizona, the broad plains of the reservations located along the New Mexico border or in the remote eastern desert of the state, rural communities are subject to the least amount of practicing health professionals per capita. All throughout the United States, rural populations have a low percentage of health coverage and access to quality health services compared to economically thriving urban areas. Arizona’s estimated rural population in 2014 was 347,277, according to the Rural Assistance Center. Those lacking the most medical access in Arizona are the rural areas along the U.S./Mexico border and the Navajo and tribal reservations. Out of the 72 hospitals in Arizona, only 20 of them are in rural communities....

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Bisbee run a stairway to heaving

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  On a cold, rainy, Saturday morning that I would’ve rather spent in the comfort of my own bed, I drove two hours to Bisbee to compete in the only competitive stair climb in the United States. When I first agreed to participate in the 25th annual Bisbee 1000 Great Stair Climb to write this story, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The 4.5 mile course that winds through the quaint town isn’t for the faint of heart. It features a 1,175 foot elevation change throughout the race as well as nine staircases that feature a total of 1,004 steps. Full disclosure: I had never run 1,000 steps in my life, and certainly not the uneven, cracked concrete variety that I’d come across in Bisbee. With my mouth dry, legs burning, and lungs gasping for...

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Border agents crack down on First Amendment rights

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Border patrol officers and agents regularly harass, intimidate and threaten citizens and journalists alike who take photos from public rights of way at border patrol entries and do the same when they take photos of agents either there or in the field. Such harassment, including demanding people stop taking photos without a reason, is one of intimidation, said James Lyall, American Civil Liberties Union Arizona border litigation staff attorney in Tucson. CBP agents have a restrictive view of what the First Amendment allows, he said. “People in a public area have the right to photograph,” Lyall said. Because U.S. General Services Administration owns the ports of entry property, agents enforce a federal rule that allows photos of entrances and lobbies for news purposes only. Teresa Small, U.S. Customs and Border Protection public affairs liaison in Tucson, will not discuss why...

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Arizona cultural theater takes the stage

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Milta Ortiz, moved to Tucson with her husband solely to write the documentary drama play titled Más, about the banning of Mexican-American studies in the Tucson Unified School District. Ortiz, Borderland Theater’s marketing and outreach director, is passionately working with her husband, Marc Pinate, the theater’s producing director, to bring the theater centerstage to new audiences in Southern Arizona. Borderlands Theater has undergone various changes since being founded 30 years ago by Barclay Goldsmith. But the emphasis of the theater has always been on the border voice and telling native stories, a mission that continues to thrive under Pinate’s direction. The proximity between Mexico and Arizona has continually had a distinct influence on the culture and people of this state, and it is this culture that has distinctly begun to shape the performing arts in the southwest. Niche regional...

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Fence talkers break down the border barrier

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Along the border in Nogales through a worn out metal fence with holes smaller than pennies, Joanna Celaya sees her brother for the first time in three years. They talk, share stories of their lives for several hours. Here along the border in Nogales are the fence talkers people who come to share love with their families, people whom immigration laws in the U.S. separate. “It is hard to see your loved one through a fence after not seeing her for three years,” says Adan Celaya. “I wanted to hug her and kiss her but I couldn’t.” According to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), more than 400,000 undocumented people were deported in 2012. Adan was one of them. This fence is their only hope to be together. But, they are not alone. From the Rio Grande to...

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Hermosillo redefines Sonoran cuisine

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Roughly 67 miles from the Gulf of California, surrounded by rocky hills and lush greenery sits Hermosillo, Sonoran’s thriving food scene. Visitors walking along the cobblestone streets discover creamy white cathedrals in the distance offset by crumbling buildings strewn with colorful murals and artwork.Busy city streets wind around the center of the city where the air is thick and smells of charred meat and spices. Rotisserie chickens spin on large metal contraptions, colorful fruit line wooden stands, and fresh cheese wheels are sold on the corner. Hermosillo has developed a rich personality that combines a long history of cattle ranching, the desolate Sonoran desert, and strategic agriculture. Progressive chefs and street food vendors have redefined Sonoran cuisine by integrating new techniques and cultural fusions. Sonora is best known for its various cuts of beef, with over 80 percent of...

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Tohono O’odham Basketry: One of Sells’ richest preserved traditions

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It can take Terrol Dew Johnson a year to make a basket. There are many reasons for that. He must harvest and prepare the fibers, and then plan the intricate designs that adhere to the rich history of basket weaving in the Tohono O’odham nation. The time that goes into making each basket varies by size and intricacy of the design. Johnson says that a smaller split stitch basket takes him about four hours to make whereas a larger close stitch basket can take up to weeks or even months. The Nation’s culture is revitalized through Johnson’s Tohono O’odham Community Action co-op with the numerous events and workshops it offers. Basket weaving is a large component in Tohono O’odham culture and Johnson, the CEO and president of Tohono O’odham Community Action or TOCA, is a contemporary basket weaver himself....

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Poor Mexican gas quality myth debunked

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Nogales, Sonora — Victor Carrasco, a personal trainer from Nogales, Sonora, commutes to sister city Nogales, Arizona, to buy gasoline for his Chevrolet Silverado. “The gasoline in Mexico is not good because it ruins cars,” Carrasco said. “I prefer American gasoline because of its quality and durability.” Carrasco isn’t the only person from Mexico who takes the time to cross the border to gas up. Carlos Ochoa, a gas station attendant at a PEMEX gas station in Sonora has had customers comment on Mexico’s low quality gasoline. “Some say that the quality doesn’t last and that the price is too high,” Ochoa said. “We do sell gasoline cheaper here than in the southern parts of the country. Those who can cross to the United States prefer to pump gas over there.” While the perception by some that U.S. gas...

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Mexican border centers give migrants resting place

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NOGALES, Sonora –  Within the Albergue para Migrantes San Juan Bosco, adorned by Virgin Mary shrines and migrant-rights posters, hides rows of bunk beds filled with migrants resting after their journeys to and from the United States. Since 1982, Juan Francisco Loureiro and his wife, Gilda, have provided food, shelter and clothing to thousands of people headed to the United States, or sent packing after deportation. They have heard the same stories, like that of Arturo Palomino. “It is very painful to think that a border is what separates me from being with my children but I respect the law of the United States,” said Palomino, a 56-year-old Hermosillo-native who was deported November of 2008 for not renewing his permanent resident card. After residing with his brother in Hermosillo for the last seven years, Palomino returned to Nogales, Sonora,...

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