El Pasoan writes book on past and future of immigrant story in U.S.

Robert Holguin and Alfredo Corchado.

As an award-winning journalist, Alfredo Corchado has been writing about the U.S.-Mexico border for the better part of three decades. But in his most recent book, "Homelands," Corchado's writing takes a more personal turn.

"Being an immigrant myself, I've always been curious about what my parents sacrificed for what they call the American dream. So I'm always curious about what is the American dream," he said.

Corchado's new book is part memoir, a narrative that starts when Corchado worked for The Wall Street Journal in Philadelphia. He had left his home in El Paso and was homesick. He went into a Mexican restaurant and made three friends: an activist, a lawyer and a restauranteur.

"We center our friendship around one question and that's: 'How do we fit in?' And you're asking this question in the city which is really considered the birth of this nation: Philadelphia. And I'm coming from what I consider the Ellis Island of the Southwest: El Paso. And so this is a coming together."

Those friendships form the basis of the book, a way to examine the story of Mexican immigration to the U.S.

"I think also a story about unrequited love, where you're trying to belong, to find the respect of the country you left behind, which is Mexico, and the same, the country you now belong to, which is the United States."

The book also delves deeply into a shift in America's demographics.

"Following IRCA (the Immigration Reform and Control Act), amnesty signed by President Regan, all of a sudden you have an explosion of Mexican immigrants but really immigrants of all types of all backgrounds moving across the country," Corchado said.

Corchado spent 20 years as the Mexico City bureau chief for The Dallas Morning News. His previous book, "Midnight in Mexico," focused on the Mexican drug trade. He said his new book is a prequel to "Midnight in Mexico."

As a reporter, Corchado has gained a unique perspective on changing tides of immigration policy.

"Anytime I use the word 'immigration' or even 'President Trump,' I know I'm going to be flooded with emails because it is such a divisive time," he said.

In 2015, Corchado left journalism for academia and taught at Arizona State University. But then the presidential election of 2016 happened.

"You kind of feel the calling back to your profession," he said.

Corchado is back with The Dallas Morning News, based now in his hometown of El Paso.

"In 'Homelands,' I study many cities and I'm convinced 100 percent that El Paso is one of the greatest American cities that there is and I'm lucky to be here at this time," he said.

Corchado is scheduled for a book signing on Wednesday at 5411 N. Mesa Street at 5 p.m.

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