Monday, October 10, 2011

Tipsheet for the border and immigration coverage - 2013


Lise Olsen, Investigative Reporter,
The Houston Chronicle
Twitter @chrondigger
updated February 2013

United States government sites/or government data:

U.S. Immigration and Citizens Services (formerly the INS) website
You’ll find press releases, of course, but also helpful annual yearbooks with specific
stats on where immigrants are moving, trends in enforcement and contacts for district offices nationwide and overseas.
Homeland Security Investigations, formerly called U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (formerly INS and customs)

Border Patrol US Customs and Border Protection, links to spokesmen and local office phones:

Links to the Federal Court websites
Links to all federal courts are at:
These include federal district, appeals and bankruptcy courts. You can search federal court cases for defendants’ names or company names nationwide and also search by statute (i.e. with the code number for illegal re-entry or other immigration-related cases). It makes sense to get to know the federal prosecutor and federal public defender in your area who handle immigration issues.
Get a log-on and you can get court records for pennies a page – and view case activity and get attorneys’ names, phones and e-mails for free:

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse
A non-profit that has successfully sued the U.S. Justice Department for tons of data and makes it available to reporters and researchers. Some of it is free, the rest you get for a
subscription fee. The ICE and USA (U.S. attorney) prosecutions tools allow you to quickly check out your region's federal enforcement efforts, spot recent trends and compare them to other regions/states. There is a whole section on immigration courts and you can get reports on immigration judges too.

The Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) of the Department of Justice
It oversees the immigration courts (which aren’t part of the ICE, etc. though they are part of the Department of Justice). Among other things, there’s a pretty up-to-date report on
court performance. Immigration court hearings are generally open, but records are not. Also has lists of stats, sanctioned lawyers, court locations, etc.

US Congress – Members of Congress, their staff and committee chairmen in both Mexico and the US congress are key contacts for reporters.
Find the list of the members of the Senate’s immigration subcommittee at: Members of congress can assist with getting information on individual cases, or statistics on INS manpower, etc You can use the service Thomas to keep up with bills: A list of bills related to September 11th is posted at

 US Department of State
Alerts and advisories, contacts, etc.

The State Department's index of Deaths of Americans Abroad data is now online as well

FBI Offices – this page has a link to all of them. Each has a press officer and a searchable archive of press releases.
The FBI is also the best source of crime statistics for all border states and cities (though state governments and individual cities have this too.)

US Census bureau: For information on border population trends, languages spoken, changes in Mexican-born or all Foreign born population on all cities, places, counties, states, towns and the US as a whole.

State governments:

U.S.border states: Texas, Arizona, California,  New Mexico

Mexican border states: Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, Chihuahua,Coahuila, Sonora
Baja California Norte. Each state has its own webpage  and “portal” for public records – “transparencia”

Each state also has a Procurador General de Justicia del Estado – PGJE in Mexico or State’s Attorney General in the US. Find their contact information and e-mails on border state webpages.

Frontera List and related links – collected and updated by Molly Molloy, an author and researcher at New Mexico State University :
Molly Molloy also  runs one of the best border list-serves (in English). To receive it, e-mail her at Now available on social media too.

Gobierno Mexicano (en español)

Mexican Government resources – the indispensable guide to fuentes or sources – a comprehensive list of who’s who in government and in journalism and how to call or e-mail them all over Mexico:

Gobierno de México en Línea Portal Ciudadano, Sitio Oficial del Gobierno de México

Mexico’s state department, the Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores

Mexican Freedom of Information Act information, sample letters, explanation of the law and database of requests. You don’t have to be a citizen to use it and can register under your own name or under Mickey Mouse if you want.

Compranet – information about federal contracts in Mexico

Senado y Camara de Diputados: Just like with the US  Congress, Mexican congressmen on key comisiones (committees) as well as their staffs are excellent sources for stories.

Procurador General de la Republica (PGR – the Mexican Attorney General/Department of Justice). Has an extensive archive of press relases and summaries of stores from around the Républica Méxicana.

Semefo – Servicio Médico Forense  is Mexico’s national medical examiner network, though not all big cities have offices (just like some places in the US rely on Coroners.)

Mexico’s INEGI – Census bureau and so much more. The motherlode of statistics and official information.

Mexican non-profits with great info and archives:

Instituto Ciudadano de Estudios sobre la inseguridad This is the best site by far for Mexican crime statistics and for citizens’ survey data on crime – very interesting information.

Center for Border Students and Promotion of Human Rights (CEFPRODHAC) – a non-profit with a great archive on human rights issues on the border – including statistics, complaints and archives from all across the border. However it's web site is not as reliable as it was in prior years. Based in Reynosa.
An example of resources available is this list of murders in Tamalipas from 2009:
(CEFPRODHAC also operates an online news service called Enlinea directa.)

Key journalism websites:
Many other news sites exist, but these are some of the oldest and most reliable and offer investigative stories from El Paso to the Pacific.

Tijuana/Baja California/San Diego:

Crónica de Baja California –
(sister paper to Frontera and to El Imparcial in Hermosillo)

Juarez/El Paso:
El Diario de Juarez (with sister papers in Chihuahua and in El  Paso)

Arizona Border reporter blog – Michael Marizco
Arizona Daily Star;
And its database of border deaths:

General border:
Frontera NorteSur another compilation site of U.S. Mexico Border News

National and border news coverage:

El Universal – Mexico’s largest daily with a huge archive of stories that is free.

La Jornada– a smaller but important Mexico City-based daily with a free searchable archive.

Deaths in U.S. Immigration detention centers posted on the New York Times website

Journalism organizations:

Investigative Reporters and
IRE en español

Sala de Prensa

Centro de Periodismo y Ética Pública – México
A great journalists’ listserve and website with public information and information on attacks on journalists

Sociedad Interamericana de Prensa: An association of editors and publishers in the Americas that monitors and provides help after attacks on journalists and lobbies for better press laws. (Spanish and English)

Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas – Newsletter in three languages, free and inexpensive web seminars and e-books as well as events.

Internacional Center for Journalists: Leyes de Prensa, becas


American Immigration Lawyers Association
PIO: 202-216-2404  Ask who are AILA members or board members in your area. AILA also has press releases on national issues on their website.

The American Bar Association’s Commission on Immigration Tel: (202) 662-1698 The ABA is a good source of information for keeping up with issues and for finding groups who handle immigration cases in your state.

The ACLU’s Immigrant Rights Page
Among other things, there are copies of key federal court decisions, as well as updates on
federal legislation as well as immigration groups all over the U.S. at this page:
      Think Tanks/Experts:
      NOTE: Many border universities have special study programs and great experts…        way too many for one list.

Center for Immigration Studies
This is a think tank devoted exclusively to the research and policy analysis of all
immigration-related issues. Among other things, the CIS has a
mailing list that lets you stay on top of what everyone else is writing about immigration
issues, from the smallest border papers to the New York Times. -- link for joining the mailing list.

Federation for Immigration Reform Tel: (202) 328-7004
An organization that argues the US has too many immigrants and proposes reforms.
Among other things, the site has state-by-state profiles and news releases.

International Human Rights organizations:

Human Rights Watch

Amnesty International:

Mexican Human Rights organizations

There are many other well-known human Rights organizations in Mexico:
      This website offers another even longer list of NGOs in all Mexican states -
(with e-mails, brief descriptions, addresses and websites.)


Americans murdered in Mexico

Americans murdered in Mexico
US citizens continue to be killed in ongoing border violence. I've been covering this since 2009.

Was this teen offender wrongfully executed?

Was this teen offender wrongfully executed?
Debate over this 2005 Chron investigation - and other cases continues in Texas

Who killed Baby Jane Doe?

Who killed Baby Jane Doe?
A 2003 investigation from the now online-only newspaper gave this baby back her name. But her murder remains unsolved...