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Local organization fights for the rights of migrants

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  He had a tattoo of a lion with a soccer ball on his left forearm. It could be assumed from his tattoo that his journey began in San Marcos, Guatemala, near the border with Mexico. It could be believed he was born to loving parents who introduced him to the local club football team that had a lion mascot. One would like to think he grew up a happy child, playing soccer in the streets with other kids his age and dreaming bigger than any adult imagination could conceptualize. These dreams and aspirations would then find him running after trains and crossing borders in his early 20 s, only to have his body fail him in the vast, barren desert of Southern Arizona. For now, his name is John Doe with the lion and soccer ball tattoo, not to...

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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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Casa Mariposa restores broken lives

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In a quaint house west of downtown Tucson thrives a local intentional community dedicated to helping the voiceless and fighting injustice in the wake of immigration reform. The movement, initially known as The Restoration Project, began almost a year after a group of people met at a Sitting Tree community gathering in May 2008. After talking, they realized they share the same vision of living peacefully. Eight years later, the project has evolved into Casa Mariposa, a community known for its welcome arms, open doors and don’t-ask policy pertaining to the work of immigration and the U.S. Mexico border. The focus of the community lies in “helping those who are stuck in the web of immigration,” said John Heid, a long-term core member. Heid has roots in social work since 1984 when he first began his community involvement. He...

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Gasolinazo: Gas crisis in Mexico crosses the border

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Angela Ayala Gonzalez, like many other residents in San Luis, Sonora, and Nogales, Sonora, is struggling even more to make ends meet in Mexico after a 20 percent increase in gas prices following a decision to eliminate state oil subsidies by the Mexican government. Gas stations across the Mexico border have shut down their pumps in reaction to the gasolinazo, or gasoline blow as it is being called. The increase in gas prices sparked major protests across the border towns, including San Luis Rio Colorado and Nogales. President Enrique Peña Nieto said in a message to the nation that the rise in fuel prices is a result of the rise in international prices and that it is “a difficult change” but necessary to guarantee economic stability. However, during Nieto’s 2015 New Year speech, Nieto promised there would be “…. no...

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Movimiento del santuario: ¿Percepción o poder?

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A finales del 2014, Francisco Pérez Córdova dejó su oficina/habitación en Tucson, en St. Francis en la iglesia Foothills United Methodist después de 94 días de estar en el santuario. Un año más tarde, Rosa Robles se fue de su santuario en la iglesia Southside Presbyterian en Tucson después de 461 días. Córdova había sido detenido cuando su cuñado reportó un delito, mientras que Robles había sido detenida por una infracción de tránsito menor. Ambos eran indocumentados, veían a los Estados Unidos como su hogar durante décadas y ambos tenían niños de los que estaban separados mientras estaban en el santuario. “Este es su hogar y por alguna razón no queremos reconocer eso”, comentó el Rvdo. Jim Wiltbank, pastor en St.Francis en Foothills. Casos de santuarios como estos ocurren por todo los EE. UU. — y podría surgir más...

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Witchcraft becoming more popular among young Latinos

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To say the word “brujo” in some communities is akin to yelling “fire!” in a crowded movie theater. It incites fear and panic. For centuries, brujería, or witchcraft, has been an obscure practice. It was woven into the superstitions that abuelas taught their grandchildren — such as using an egg to perform a limpia, a cleanse, on a baby suffering from mal de ojo, the evil eye. Everyone knew it existed but it was seldom acknowledged. Now, more and more younger Latinos are identifying as brujos and claiming to practice brujería, much to the bewilderment of others who grew up in fear of it. “I think it’s both a disconnect from history and a form of reclaiming power for them,” said Patrisia Gonzales, a traditional healer/midwife and professor of Mexican American Studies at the University of Arizona. Gonzales, 57, who is...

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Homeopathic remedies in the Hispanic community.

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In the Hispanic community, homeopathic remedies have been passed down through generations. Whether it’s at the U.S-Mexico border or in South Tucson, visiting a folk healer or an herbalist can be commonplace in the Hispanic culture. A homeopathic remedy is an alternative medicine practice that uses natural remedies such as plants, animals and minerals. In many cases, remedies are similar to what pharmaceutical companies use. Patrisia Gonzales, University of Arizona professor in Mexican American Studies, focuses on indigenous remedies in the Hispanic community. Also an herbalist, Gonzales has found that using plant-based materials in home remedies have helped families thrive throughout the years. “There is this incredible ecosystems throughout what we call today Mexico and throughout the Southwest,” she said. “There are thousands of plants that people can use for home remedies. When the traditional herbs were outlawed, people started to...

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Sanctuary movement: perception or power?

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After 94 days in sanctuary, Francisco Perez Cordova left his Tucson office-turned-bedroom at St. Francis in the Foothills United Methodist Church. A year later in 2015, Rosa Robles left her sanctuary at Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson after 461 days. Cordova had been detained when his brother-in-law reported a crime, while Robles had been taken in for a minor traffic infraction. Both were undocumented, both had called the United States home for decades and both had children they were separated from while in sanctuary. “This is his home and for some reason we don’t want to recognize that,” said Rev. Jim Wiltbank, pastor at St. Francis in the Foothills. Sanctuary cases like these occur throughout the U.S. — and more could arise after President Trump’s executive order targeting undocumented residents. His executive order denies federal funding to sanctuary cities, or cities that choose not...

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Nogales nightlife thrives behind the fence

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Our taxi driver was supposed to be taking us a few blocks down the road for dinner. But we’d been in the cab, weaving around other cars, aggressively accelerating then quickly breaking for at least 10 minutes. “Almost there!” He would assure us over the blaring Spanish rap CD in the car stereo. The three of us were packed in like sardines, tightly into the back seat, exchanging frantic glances about the length of our ride. I invited the two nervous girls next to me to Nogales, Sonora, for a weekend getaway. We were curious about the culture and people, the entire lifestyle, beyond the border checkpoint. I didn’t know what to expect, but we definitely weren’t prepared to be surprised. Panic hadn’t truly settled in until the cab began to scoot along the on-ramp to a desolate two-lane...

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Homeless youth invisible in Southern Arizona

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They are the hidden ones living under a different roof each week. By no fault of their own, they are outcasts without a home. They are teens missing football games and school dances to work extra shifts to pay for another meal. They are poor and battling the world alone. “Homeless youth, is one of those things that sort of perplexes people,” said Kristyn Conner, director of development at Youth On Their Own, a dropout prevention program in Tucson. “It is out of sight and out of mind. With adult homelessness, you can see it. But with homeless youth, it is different because they aren’t actually living on the streets as much as their adult counterparts.” In its most recent report, the state Department of Education reported 28,391 enrolled homeless children and youth in grades pre-kindergarten through 12th grade....

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