KTEP - El Paso, Texas

Angela Kocherga | KTEP

COVID testing line
Angela Kocherga / KTEP




Olivia Meza waited in a long line to get a COVID-test at a site near the University of Texas at El Paso. She was concerned after gathering with relatives during the holidays who later tested postitive.She’s vaccinated but worried about the highly contagious omicron variant.


"I think this line is ridiculous and they should have more locations and more staff," Meza said.

US Ambassador security agreement signing ceremony
Corrie Boudreaux / El Paso Matters




CIUDAD JUÁREZ  -- U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar signed an agreement with mayors of six cities in Chihuahua, with the goal of preventing violent crime, building citizen trust in Mexican police forces and reducing corruption.


“This can be a historic moment because it can mark a new start in ensuring our people can live without fear,” Salazar said. 


Juarez crime scene
Corrie Boudreaux / El Paso Matters

EL PASO --What was supposed to be a routine search by Mexican National Guard troops is under investigation after an 18-year-old U.S. citizen was shot and killed in Ciudad Juárez.

Juan Carlos Medina died near the Paso del Norte Bridge after crossing from El Paso in the early hours of Nov. 20. Medina’s relatives say he was killed while trying to flee and want authorities to check surveillance cameras in the area. Mexican National Guard soldiers say they found two handguns in the teen’s backpack, according to Chihuahua state investigators.

Paso del Norte international bridge
Angela Kocherga / KTEP


EL PASO -- Along the border, residents and businesses are counting the days until the Monday when pandemic-related travel restrictions are lifted, allowing all fully vaccinated visitors to cross into the United States.

“We’re all excited that they’re going to open the bridges because it’s the perfect time of the year,” said Samuel Lara, an employee at Simple Mobile, a South El Paso store about half a block from the international bridge.

Paso del Norte international bridge
Angela Kocherga / KTEP



EL PASO -- The U.S. will lift pandemic travel restrictions at international bridges and border crossings next month, reopening the border to fully vaccinated individuals. This ends a nearly 19-month shutdown that kept people from visiting relatives and hurt U.S. businesses that relied on shoppers from Mexico.

"This is wonderful news, long-awaited news and long-overdue news," said U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-El Paso.

Solider with Afghan children
Staff Sgt. Michael West / U.S. Army - Fort Bliss

FORT BLISS -- From a helicopter high above the desert landscape dotted with scrub brush, row after row of large white tents stand out against the golden brown terrain. 

Each tent can house up to 100 “guests” as the Army refers to the Afghan evacuees. About 10,000 people from Afghanistan are living at Fort Bliss, one of eight army installations temporarily housing the evacuees.

In a matter of a three weeks, Fort Bliss transformed a 1960s era training camp with sleeping quarters for 1800 soldiers into a massive operation

Texas Rangers Public Integrity Cases
Texas Observer

KTEP's Angela Kocherga talks to Lise Olsen, Texas Observer senior editor and reporter, about her investigative report "Justice for Some" in which Olsen examines more than 500 cases to see how and when Texas Rangers handle public integrity cases involving elected state officials and employees. Few officials are held accountable.

Border fence at sunset
Angela Kocherga / KTEP News

A lot has changed along the border since September 11, 2001. The attack led to the creation of the massive, cabinet-level, Department of Homeland Security and disruptions in daily life for those who cross back and forth. An estimated $330 billion has been spent ramping up border security including doubling the size of the Border Patrol, now the largest law enforcement agency in the country. There's also more technology for U.S.

Border Patrol vehicle
Angela Kocherga / KTEP News

EL PASO -- The American Civil Liberties Union is calling for the U.S. Border Patrol make its vehicle pursuit policy public following a crash on a state road in southern New Mexico earlier this month that killed two people and injured eight others.

“Without the policy we don't have a way to kind of measure when Border Patrol is or isn't justified in undertaking these types of pursuits,” said Rebecca Sheff, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of New Mexico.

Walmart memorial at store
Angela Kocherga / KTEP News

EL PASO -- Just ahead of the official unveiling August 3rd, El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego walked through the healing garden planted to honor the victims of the 2019 Walmart mass shooting. 

Since the hate crime that took the lives of 23 people and left dozens more injured, Samaniego has been involved in every painstaking detail of the garden. This includes the shape — “circular, like a hug,” 23 Italian cypress trees planted by family members of the victims, and the fountains with calming cascades of water.

Van Horn Bezos Mural
Angela Kocherga / KTEP News

VAN HORN – Billionaire Jeff Bezos’ flight to the edge of space with his brother and two other passengers has put this tiny West Texas town in the national spotlight. Van Horn, population about 2000, is the closest town to the launch site.

“Van Horn being put on the map, it’s exciting for some and there’s some that are going to benefit economically from it,” said Culberson County Sheriff Oscar Carillo.

Lee and Bobby Byrd
Angela Kocherga / KTEP

Bobby and Lee Byrd  raised the profile of books about the border, Mexican-American culture and more. The husband and wife started Cinco Puntos press in their home in El Paso’s Five Points Neighborhood in 1985. Their small publishing company helped launch the careers of award-winning authors.

Pfc. Asia Graham
Fort Bliss / U.S. Army

EL PASO -- Asia Graham enlisted in the Army right out of high school to follow in her father’s footsteps; Her mother Nicole Graham says he served for 23 years. After his death, Asia wanted to take care of her mother.

“She joined the military to make me a dependent. I was living in a trailer: roach-infested, no heat,” Graham said.

Her daughter Asia was "full of pride and excitement” at basic training according to Nicole Graham. But her mood changed dramatically about a month after she arrived at Fort Bliss in December 2019.

Pfc. Christian Alvarado booking photo
El Paso Police Department

EL PASO -- Pfc. Christian Alvarado has begun serving an 18 year, three month sentence for sexually assaulting fellow solider  Asia Graham and another woman. He was aquitted for sexually assaulting two other women. Judge Robert Shuck sentenced Alvarado on Friday after a week of emotional testimony from victims and Alvarado who took the stand in his own defense during the court-martial.  

Chihuahua Governor race campaign rally
Alfredo Corchado / The Dallas Morning News

Sunday Mexico holds a massive mid-term election with voters casting ballots for every member of the lower branch of Congress, 15 governors and hundreds of mayors . The race for governor of border state Chihuahua is among the most hotly contested. Among the concerns: a concentration of power in one party, Mexico'spresident's party, and violence on the campaign trail. More than 30 candidates have been murdered since April.   KTEP’s Angela Kocherga reports on what’s at stake.

Mexico National Guard overlooking Rio
Corrie Boudreaux / El Paso Matters


CIUDAD JUAREZ – The figures in pale camouflage uniforms are visible in key spots along this border, from the fence jutting high above the desert in Anapra to the muddy banks of the shallow Rio Grande near downtown Juárez. 


“These points are strategic,” said a Mexican National Guard member in Juárez who did not want his name used because he is not authorized to do interviews. “The flow of migrants is reduced because of our presence here.” 


Trans migrant shelter
Angela Kocherga / KTEP News


CIUDAD JUAREZ – The final days at Casa de Colores were hectic as the last residents living in the old hotel turned migrant shelter prepared to leave.


“It’s a bittersweet feeling,” said Fernanda Levin, a 25-year-old trans woman from El Salvador. “I’m happy that I’ll be able to fulfill my dream, but we’re sad that Casa de Colores is closing.


UTEP Campus
UTEP Communicaitons / University of Texas at El Paso Communications

In this edition of The Weekend, University of Texas at El Paso President Heather Wilson discusses UTEP's 10-year strategic plan with KTEP's Angela Kocherga. The plan focuses on strengths but also the challenges ahead for UTEP and students seeking a higher education in our region.  UTEP's president also talks about community engagement, a cyber intrusion on campus and  the university's newly-hired men’s basketball coach.  

Border Patrol truck on banks of Rio Grande
Angela Kocherga / KTEP

CIUDAD JUAREZ --Ana Castro sat with her two children on a curb just steps from the Paso del Norte Bridge in downtown Ciudad Juarez, considering her options and crushing debt.

“Truthfully, I’d like to try again,” said Castro, hours after she and her daughter, 12, and son, 9, were expelled by the U.S. Border Patrol after crossing into the United States. “We’re already here and have a debt weighing on us.”

Mothers on Paso del Norte bridge
Angela Kocherga / KTEP


CIUDAD JUAREZ --  The Biden administration is grappling with a huge logistical and humanitarian challenge on the Southwest border, where about 5,000 unauthorized migrants are crossing on average every day.

About half of the migrants are allowed to stay in the U.S. and ask for asylum, and the rest are turned back to Mexico, according to a senior Border Patrol official who spoke on condition of anonymity to reporters on Friday. 

JUAREZ, MEXICO — The Biden administration is grappling with a huge logistical and humanitarian challenge on the Southwest border, where about 5,000 unauthorized migrants are crossing on average every day.

About half of the migrants are allowed to stay in the U.S. and ask for asylum, and the rest are turned back to Mexico, according to a senior Border Patrol official who spoke on condition of anonymity to reporters on Friday.