Alfredo Corchado, a journalist who has faced death threats covering what is arguably one of the world’s most dangerous beats, often ponders his family’s decision to depart their hometown of San Luis de Cordero in Mexico to immigrate to the United States.
That decision set Corchado on a course that led him to a career in journalism, covering Mexico. He is now the El Paso-based Mexico border correspondent for the Dallas Morning News.
The prize-winning journalist has chronicled the national policies affecting Mexican migrants in the United States and the country’s relationship with Mexico.
Corchado’s new book, “Homelands,” offers a personal account of his experiences as a journalist in Mexico and with three friends he met in Philadelphia. He uses those accounts to detail the evolution of the Mexican-American migration over three decades and the complexity of the Mexican-American identity.
“I always ask. How do we fit in this country,” Corchado told El Paso Inc. “That changes with the times.”
He plans to hold a book signing 5 p.m. June 6 at Literarity Book Shop, 5411 N. Mesa.
El Paso Inc. met with Corchado on a warm Friday morning at Hillside Coffee & Donut Co. to talk about his book and current events in Mexico and along the border.
Since graduating from the University of Texas at El Paso in 1987, much has changed in journalism, he said. He and his colleagues aren’t only writing stories; they are also taking photographs and videos.
“The thing that hasn’t changed is the storytelling,” Corchado said. “You still try to find the best damn story you can find, and you try to make sure that when people read it, their Cornflakes get soggy because they can’t stop reading.”
As a reporter for the Dallas Morning News, Corchado is constantly in and out of El Paso, covering the presidential election in Mexico and traveling to the heartland of the United States to talk to Hispanic day laborers.
“Other things that have changed are divisions in society,” he said. “When I write a story that has to do with immigration, I know I am going to get flooded with hate mail. It’s such a divisive time in this country.”
He said the release of his book comes at a time when the Mexican community is experiencing pushback from a wave of nativism in the United States. Corchado said he is curious to know why there is a growing hatred or mistrust between communities in the U.S.
He attributes some of the pushback to a lack of coverage of Mexico by the U.S. news media. The number of American journalists in Mexico is nowhere near where it once was a decade ago, Corchado said.
“It’s a disservice,” he said. “We don’t cover Mexico the way we should. When I was there, we had a staff of about 12 people. Now we have one: Me.”
Corchado has followed the Mexican presidential race closely and says many in Mexico want to punish the main political parties.
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a member of the left-leaning National Regeneration Party, also known as MORENA, has a comfortable lead over the establishment candidates. Obrador is considered a populist and has gained support for his nationalistic comments in speeches.
“What’s different today, interviewing scores of people, is there is no anger, no hope, just a lot of castigo, or punishment,” Corchado said.
The Mexican people’s push to punish the country’s main political parties is fueled in part by growing violence and impunity, according to Corchado.
He said the killings are not as graphic as they once were in the late 2000s, but they are more numerous. “I see it now seeping into the upper middle class away from the border and central Mexico,” he said.
He recalled a gun battle between rival gangs in a prominent neighborhood in Guadalajara. “Sometimes it happens in some of the places you least expect, and it generates more fear.”
Email El Paso Inc. reporter Aaron Montes at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (915) 534-4422, ext. 105, and (915) 777-4154. Twitter: @aaronmontes91.