FRONTERAS: Border Agents Sickened By Sewage; Lupe Valdez Runs For Governor; Mariachi Students

Dec 8, 2017

This week on Fronteras:

  • In California, Border Patrol agents are getting sick from sewage spills in the Tijuana River.
  • A language barrier often exists between patients and their doctors  (7.02).
  • A high profile Hispanic throws her hat into the ring for Texas governor (12.57).
  • Mariachi music makes its way out of the cantinas and into the classrooms (17.27).

Border Agents Getting Sick From Sewage Spills

In California, U.S. Border Patrol agents are getting sick from cross-border sewage spills in the Tijuana River Valley. According to a report this week in The San Diego Union-Tribune, the number of agents who have become ill has nearly tripled since June. The Border Patrol agents’ union had reported 83 illnesses by mid-November compared to 30 five months ago.

Maureen Cavanaugh of KPBS spoke with reporter Barbara Zaragoza, who has been following this story for the Union-Tribune.

Cruz Ramirez is one of the dozens of medical interpreters at Parkland Hospital.
Credit Lauren Silverman / KERA News

Breaking Language Barriers  In Patient Care

Just trying to keep up with medical terminology and acronyms during a doctor’s visit can be tricky for anyone. KERA’s Lauren Silverman reports on a new study of language barriers between patients and doctors and the interpreters working to bridge the communication gap.

Lupe Valdez attends the Annie's List luncheon in Dallas on Nov. 10.
Credit Norma Martinez

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez Enters Race For Governor

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez is running for governor of Texas. Valdez, the daughter of South Texas migrant workers, was in her fourth term as sheriff. But Wednesday, Valdez gave up that job to challenge Gov. Greg Abbott. Observers say Valdez is the strongest Democratic challenger in the race, but winning office will be an uphill battle. KERA’s Christopher Connelly reports.

Sandra Gonzalez leading violin students at the mariachi workshop at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center
Credit Norma Martinez

Mariachi Classrooms A Sanctuary For Students

If you’ve ever eaten at a Mexican restaurant or attended a Mexican wedding, you’ve probably encountered a band of mariachis.

Now, mariachi music has expanded beyond the usual haunts. Mariachi programs have blossomed in schools nationwide in the last couple of decades. TPR’s Norma Martinez talked to some students at the 23rd Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza to see what mariachi music means to them.

​Norma Martinez can be reached by email at and on Twitter @NormDog1