Uncertain future for detained #Dream9: an example of sourcing the story

(a post discussing sourcing with examples from backgrounding work I did on The New York Times July 23 piece 9 in Deportation Protest Are Held in Bid to Re-enter U.S.)

This week on Tuesday, I got invited to help locate sources and gather background information for a brief follow-up story that Julia Preston was working on. A big part of reporting is reaching sources – and this becomes doubly high pressure when working on a breaking news or developing story. The day before, nine protesters were intentionally apprehended in Nogales on Monday morning. In press releases sent out before the event, protest organizers said that eight young immigrants who’d grown up in the U.S. but then had either voluntarily left or been deported would be protesting family separation (a ninth person joined the initial eight during the protest). They’d try to cross the U.S.-Mexico border at Morley Gate, a pedestrian crossing between Nogales, Sonora and Nogales, Arizona and request humanitarian parole.

Family through a fence

A bittersweet reunion lets three young immigrants see – and reach for – their deported mothers through a fence. Read more here in the June 11 The New York Times piece: Immigrants Reach Beyond a Legal Barrier for a Reunion

As a young man and two young women approached the border from the Arizona side, a cry rang out through the bars of the border fence. Waiting for their children in matching turquoise t-shirts on the Mexican side were their mothers, separated for years since their deportations for being illegally present in the U.S.

The six came together, reaching through the spaces between the thick metal poles, with sobs and laughter under the watchful (and not always dry) eyes of organizers, reporters, Border Patrol, and Mexican Federales last Tuesday – the culmination of days of travel and two months of planning. All three children are in President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program which gives qualified applicants the ability to go to school, work and in some states get drivers licenses while they wait for a more permanent resolution to their legal status limbo. It’s a way for participants to start coming out of the shadows.

Border Patrol busts: an illustrated mini news roundup

Drug busts are a big part of Border Patrol coverage, and it’s a topic that agents are often happy to discuss. As part of my work for Tucson Sentinel, I’ve been logging the incidents Border Patrol reports to the press in the righthand column of my weekly border roundups. Last week’s edition featured an unusual amount of photos provided by Border Patrol of some cases that demonstrate both regular smuggling activity – and a few especially inventive attempts – that I discussed with Border Patrol Agents Jeremy Copeland and Jason Rheinfrank. Customs and Border Protection’s Yuma Air Branch spotted suspects hiding bundles of marijuana in brush along the Colorado River near the U.S.-Mexico border about 5:30 Thursday evening. They notified Border Patrol agents who arrived on scene to seize the narcotics.

The brujas are back

I checked in with Eddie this weekend to see how the holidays had gone. In mid-December, he’d mentioned that he and his wife Monse were discussing coming south to look for Monse’s missing brother-in-law Andy again. They hadn’t come yet but he did have some news for me: the brujas are back. “I’m trying to go convince there’s no such thing, you know, don’t believe those people,” Eddie said. But about two weeks ago, Andy’s sister in Tijuana went to one and the information she shared with Eddie’s wife Monse has Eddie worried.

Questions still: a year of living with the unknown

A year ago, through his brother-in-law Eddie, I learned how a Los Angeles area hair salon owner named Andy had gone missing along the U.S.-Mexico border, trying to return home after burying his mother in Sinaloa. A few weeks after his disappearance, Andy’s large family of brothers and sisters, spouses and cousins, nieces and nephews-in-law were scared and anxious. They turned to each other and individually they turned to outside sources including friends, hospitals, law enforcement and psychics on both sides of the border, even questioning the potentially dangerous coyote smugglers paid to safely guide Andy home – but they weren’t finding answers. One year later, they know barely anything more than they did when Andy first went missing. Here’s what they know (also used to generate Andy’s timeline):

Born in Sinaloa in November 1965, Andy came to the United States in the 1980s.

MFM blog update: timeline of a disappearance

A year ago, Andy’s family was coming to the realization that something had gone wrong. Instead of making an illegal and dangerous border crossing from Mexico to the U.S. somewhere in southern Arizona, Andy had disappeared. Now, just over a year later, they still do not know what happened to him. But they have worked with me on developing a timeline of Andy’s travel between Mexico and the U.S. which is posted today.

Hiking with Samaritans, part 3

This is the last of a three part series on hiking in southern Arizona with humanitarian volunteers: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 & photo gallery

The sun is emerging more frequently as we start take the left branch and begin the last stretch before we reach the border. There is no question that this trail is in use. There are signs of passing people everywhere, some old like a cloth shirt deteriorating into the debris in the stream bed but others fresh like a brightly colored Mexican toilet paper wrapper resting in the grass. The feet that trod these trails both leave and return to family. Migrants seeking jobs may be hoping to pay for anything from food and shelter to housing and medical care.