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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

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.

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.

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.

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.”

Memory Bear Ramos
Gina Ramos

CIUDAD JUAREZ -- Every time Gina Ramos looks at her teddy bear, she remembers her father. The bear is a deep indigo color, made from one of her father’s shirts. “It’s a blue shirt I had given him on his birthday. His last birthday,” Ramos said.  Her 62 year-old father Jose Womhar Ramos Hernandez died in December.

Claudia Araceli Ramirez Pereira’s bear is blue and white plaid with a touch of brown, made from her father’s favorite winter jacket. “This year he didn’t get to wear it,” said Ramirez. Her father 70-year old father Lorenzo Ramirez died in October.

Border Fence/Wall Sunland Park
Angela Kocherga / KTEP

 

 

 

PALOMAS, Mexico –  Jhon Jairo Ushca Alcoser, a 25-year-old migrant from Ecuador, said when he fell off the border wall, “my dream” of reaching the U.S. ended. 

 

  

Pedro Gomez, 37, of Guatemala was so determined after he injured himself toppling off the top of the fence, he “crawled on hands and knees” away from the structure because he couldn’t walk. 

 

Fort Bliss Training
Staff Sgt. Michael West / U.S. Army

EL PASO – The Army has launched a criminal investigation after eleven Fort Bliss soldiers were hospitalized suffering from antifreeze poisoning. The soldiers are recovering at William Beaumont Army Medical center. They were sickened Thursday at the end of a 10-day field training exercise at McGregor Range.

“Initial reports indicate soldiers consumed this substance, thinking they were drinking alcoholic beverage,” said Lt. Col. Allie Payne, a Fort Bliss spokeswoman for the 1st Armored Division during a news conference Friday afternoon.

Missing Fort Bliss Soldier
Halliday Family

EL PASO – As the Army continues to search for missing soldier Pvt. Richard Halliday, the commanding general at Fort Bliss has ordered an investigation of the soldier’s unit. 

“I directed an investigation into the leadership, climate and treatment of soldiers in the 1st Battalion 43rd Air Defense Artillery Battalion, “said Maj. General Sean C. Bernabe, senior mission commander at Fort Bliss.

Bernabe announced the investigation during an extensive update on the case for handful of journalists on post. 

U.S. Congresswoman Veronica Escobar
Veronica Escobar

EL PASO-- Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (D-El Paso) was one of the lawmakers in the U.S. Capitol when a pro-Trump mob stormed the building. In a phone interview with KTEP's Angela Kocherga she talks about the terrifying experience of being trapped inside as Capitol Police tried to keep the violent mob from breaking into the U.S. House Chamber. 

Bowie Bakery
Angela Kocherga / KTEP News

EL PASO -- The phone is ringing off the hook and people are lined up outside of Bowie Bakery in West El Paso. The shop is only allowing three customers inside at time as a COVID-19 precaution. With Christmas around the corner, the bakery is even busier than usual this holiday season.

“So we’re buying red tamales for the office. We figured we’d spread some holiday cheer for our 14 employees,” Fred Lopez said as he was paying for his order.

Binational voters
Ana Hernandez / Hernandez Family

EL PASO --All along the Texas-Mexico border voters with strong ties on both sides are casting ballots.  They’re US citizens whose jobs and families intersect with Mexico, and their political concerns span the border. 

Ana Hernandez grew up on the border in the sister cities of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez. “I like going over there, it’s home,” she said of Juarez where she was born and went to school. “But this is home too,” she said of El Paso, the city where she is building her career.

Young voter
Angela Kocherga / KTEP News

EL PASO -- Social justice, racism, and hate crimes have become hot-button issues on the presidential campaign trail and debate stage.  Voters in predominantly Latino El Paso are paying attention. They know the horror and heartache caused by a hate crime.  This August marked a year since a gunman from North Texas traveled to border city and went on a shooting rampage inside a Walmart.

Border Shutdown Paso del Norte Bridge
Angela Kocherga / KTEP News

CIUDAD JUAREZ --It’s been more than six months since the U.S. and Mexico border closed to all but essential travel to slow the spread of COVID-19. The disruption of lives and livelihoods has been widespread on both sides during the pandemic. 

Marco Antonio Corral, 60, has watched it all unfold from the middle of the Paso del Norte Bridge where just over the borderline on the Mexican side he peddles potato chips and cold water to drivers and passengers stuck in idling cars calling out “Papitas! Agua!”  

CBP officers seize Mexican Bologna
U.S. Customs and Border Protection / CBP

EL PASO -- U.S. customs and Border Protection officers continue to seize large loads of drugs on the Texas-Mexico border.  Smuggling during the pandemic also includes a comfort food that is contraband Mexican bologna. 

Miriam Ortiz, a loyal shopper at La Mejor Texas Meat shop understands the popularity of the lunchmeat. She was at the meat market buying dinner for her family including steaks and some short ribs.  

EL PASO -- A class-action lawsuit aims to end the Trump administration's expulsion of migrant children who arrive at the border alone seeking refuge. Many of the kids have been held in hotels in Texas border cities including El Paso and McAllen before being removed from the country.

 

The ACLU is spearheading the lawsuit filed in Washington D.C.  along with the Texas Civil Rights Project and Oxfam America seeking to block border officials from suspending legal safeguards for children who arrive at the border alone.

 

William Englisbee holds a photo of his mother Angelina Maria Silva de Englisbee
Angela Kocherga / KTEP News

 

EL PASO -- William Englisbee embodies the quiet strength of the city he calls home. 

 

“Every day’s a struggle,” said Englisbee at Evergreen Cemetery east recently where he was paying respects to his mother. Angelina Maria Silva de Englisbee was among 23 people gunned down at an El Paso Walmart a year ago.  She was 86.

 

Walmart survivors meet at park
Angela Kocherga / KTEP News

EL PASO --It’s been nearly a year since the August 3rd mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart, the deadliest attack targeting Latinos in modern U.S. history.  Alongside the horror of what happened that day, there were moments of heroism -- Shoppers risking their livesto help others escape from the gunman.  

On a sweltering summer day recently, Eduardo Castro, 72, met the woman who saved his life for the first time since their paths crossed when the gunman made his way through the store.

Ringside Seat to a Revolution by David Romo
David Romo / Cinco Puntos Press

KTEP's Angela Kocherga and guest co-host Alfredo Corchado, Mexico border correspondent for The Dallas Morning News  based in El Paso continue their series of COVID-19 conversations with authors, historians and researchers. Borderland historian and author of Ringside Seat to the Revolution David Romo discusses the health, economic and political implications of pandemics then and now and lessons as El Paso and the region copes with COVID-19.

 

UTEP College of Liberal Arts Dean Denis O'Hearn
Denis O'Hearn / UTEP

KTEP's Angela Kocherga begins a series of conversations about COVID-19 that go beyond the grim numbers to examine some of the issues and disparities exposed by the pandemic. Angela and guest co-host Alfredo Corchado, Mexico border correspondent for The Dallas Morning News based in El Paso, interview authors, historians and researchers.

 

by René Kladzyk, El Paso Matters 

EL PASO -- Two eyewitness accounts of the deadly car crash in Downtown El Paso conflict with what law enforcement officials have said about the events prior to the accident that killed seven and left three with serious injuries.

Border Patrol officials have said agents initially pursued a vehicle believed to be transporting undocumented immigrants, but broke off the chase after it reached dangerously high speeds heading into Downtown El Paso. They said the driver who evaded agents bears sole responsibility for the deaths.

The Weekend: UTEP President Heather Wilson

Jun 29, 2020
UTEP Communications

On this edition of The Weekend, University of Texas at El Paso President Healther Wilson talks to KTEP's Angela Kocherga about plans for the fall during the COVID-19 pandemic, including life on campus and the first football game. Dr. Wilson's first full academic year at the helm of UTEP began in August when El Paso was in mourning following the Walmart mass shooting, in the Spring the COVID-19 pandemic forced universities to shut down and move to remote learning and then the protests demanding justice for George Floyd.  Dr.

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