Journalist discusses immigration and border politics

Jack Ramirez Bernal and Ryan Duff

Staff Writers

Award-winning journalist, Alfredo Corchado described his career in journalism as “an infection that once you get, you can never get rid of.” The Mexico Border Correspondent for The Dallas Morning News was the keynote speaker at the fifth annual Honors Conference, “Global Responsibility and Citizenship.”

Corchado discussed his career in journalism, covering cartels and border issues along with his new assignment of covering presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke. He also discussed his new book, “Homelands: Four Friends, Two Countries, and the Fate of the Great Mexican-American Migration.” The book focuses on the timeline of Mexican immigration to the United Stated told through the eyes of four different characters, including Corchado. The story is set in Philadelphia during 1980s in a small cantina where they share their passion for conversation and tequila.

This was Corchado’s second visit to Richland. In 2015, under the sponsorship of the Richland Honors Program, he discussed his book, “Midnight in Mexico: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Country’s Descent into Darkness.” That book documented his experience during the early 2000s investigating drug cartels in Mexico and its ties to government that resulted in one of country’s most violent periods.

Before his address to the honor students, Corchado met with Chronicle TV reporter Ryan Duff for a one-on-one interview. Duff asked Corchado his views on the recent Mexico-America border disputes.

Corchado discussed his career as a correspondent in Mexico covering immigration cartels and life south of the border.

Corchado discussed his career as a correspondent in Mexico covering immigration cartels and life south of the border.

“Looking back, I realize that there were Mexicans moving throughout the country” Corchado said. “This happened because in 1986 you had the Immigration Reform and Control Act and that I think this bolstered, [and] underscored, the movement of Mexicans to arrive in the United States.”

After the interview, Corchado joined some of the Chronicle staff for a conversation. He explained that he got into journalism while studying at El Paso Community College.

“[My college professors] said, I had the potential to be a good writer, but my English was really bad,” Corchado said. He went on to explain how he went to work at the college newspaper to improve his language skills and got hooked. It would become the first step of his journalism career.

Corchado jokingly warned the media staff about the rabbit hole they were getting themselves into. He discussed how journalism has changed over time and how journalists must adapt.

“People that say ‘back in my time’ have to understand that that time is gone,” Corchado said. “Right now, the younger generation has an advantage when it comes to reporting the news.”

The last event on his schedule was the Honors conference. Corchado shared his experience as a reporter and the threat on his life that caused him to leave the country. He acknowledged the commitments and struggles Mexican journalists face in Mexico.

“I’m no more courageous as my Mexican colleagues. Six journalists [have been] killed in Mexico this year,” Corchado said. “The difference between my Mexican colleagues and me, is that I have a US passport. If anything goes wrong, I drive straight to the airport.”

A question and answer session followed his presentation. Students had the opportunity to ask Corchado his opinion of the new Mexican president and the transition of journalism to digital formats. He encouraged those attending to subscribe to newspapers as an alternative to social media.

Corchado concluded his presentation by asking the audience to “imagine a world without reporters. “What to do?” he contemplated. “Pursue facts. Tell stories. Tell truths. Point out deception.”

Corchado’s new book “Homelands” is available in the Richland bookstore. The recorded interview with Corchado is available online at www.RichlandStudentMedia.com.