University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) journalism professor Zita Arocha launched a website dedicated to reporting on one of the most prominent, hot-button political issues facing the United States today: immigration.
The website, Mexodus, focuses on the plight of middle-class Mexicans and the dangers that drive many to cross the border into the United States, including kidnapping and extortion.
"It's my wish to change the stereotypes about Mexican immigration into the United States and to inform the American public about this phenomenon," Arocha told the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas.
Mexodus features a series of 20 bilingual reports on the issue, compiled over the course of nine months by about 100 journalism students from UTEP, California State University Northridge, and the Chihuahua and Mexico City branches of the Monterrey Technical Institute (ITESM).
One 14-year-old interview subject discusses in a video her family's journey to the U.S. after enduring the trauma of kidnapping.
Most of the stories are gathered from former residents of Juarez, El Paso and Tijuana, although the students did not venture to Mexico due to the dangers of drug violence.
The project was funded by the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, Investigative Reporters and Editors and the MEPI Foundation. It is a project of Borderzine, a web community for Latino student journalists funded by the Ford Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and other donors.
The El Paso Times will publish the reports on August 7.