Mexicans Abroad May Vote in 2018 Home Elections

By Andrea Johnson

The Razorback Reporter

Mexicans who have valid identification may be eligible to vote in Mexico’s federal and local elections in July 2018 even while living abroad, officials said. For some UA students from Mexico, the process appears confusing, according to interviews.

Sophomore Guillermo Miranda knows he can vote in Mexico’s upcoming elections and would like to get involved, but a lack of information for how to do so prevents him from pursuing those interests, he said. Born in Santiago de Querétaro, Mexico, Guillermo moved to the U.S. at age 14 and is in the process of becoming a U.S. citizen.

“I really want to be involved (in the U.S.) because this is the culture I live in, and it’s the culture that has given me so many opportunities,” Miranda said. “But in the same way, I was born and basically raised in Mexico, so I also want to be involved in Mexican politics and be able to choose who represents our people here and in Mexico.”

Mexican voter registration opened Sept. 1 and will close March 31, according to the Instituto Nacional Electoral. The INE serves as Mexico’s autonomous body that administers elections throughout the country.

INE officials invited Xavier Medina Vidal, the Diane D. Blair professor of Latino Studies and an assistant professor of political science, to their forum, “The Mexican Diaspora and the Vote of Mexicans Living in the United States,” Aug. 15-16 in Mexico City.

Medina Vidal gave insight concerning how to better involve Mexicans abroad in transnational politics, he said. He defined the Mexican diaspora as those living away from their ancestral homeland.

“It implies there’s a disconnection, which is a physical one like the border, and the diaspora tends to form its own identity that is tied to Mexico but is unique in certain ways,” Medina Vidal said.

Though he was born in the state of New Mexico, Medina Vidal “grew up on both sides of the border” because his mother’s side of the family is from Mexico, he said. At the forum, he brought the perspective of a U.S.-born person who identifies as Mexican.

“That’s kind of the perspective that’s been missing historically in Mexican-American relations,” Medina Vidal said.

Medina Vidal served as one of three political scientists from the U.S. at the forum who discussed political behaviors, ideologies and media use of the Mexican diaspora. All could determine the level of interest in the 2018 elections, he said. Other officials representing fields such as economics, anthropology and economics also weighed in on how to engage Mexicans abroad.

For senior Soledad Huaracha, the complexity of the voting process and a distrust in recent political leaders in Mexico and in the U.S., discourages her from participating in politics, she said. Born and raised in Durango, Mexico, Huaracha moved to the U.S. at age 24 and has lived in the U.S. for 28 years.

Before her brother died, she discussed politics with him because he worked as a professor in Mexico, Huaracha said. She had lacked political information from Mexico since his death but began discussing politics again after she enrolled in Medina Vidal’s Latino Politics course.

Those with a valid Mexican identification card may register online and if approved, they will receive a Postal Electoral Package by mail. The package will include instructions for voting, information about candidates and electoral ballots.

Medina Vidal advised those seeking information to go to the INE website and contact officials at the Consulate of Mexico in Little Rock, he said. Consulate officials travel around the state, and some will be in Northwest Arkansas Sept. 15 at the Mexican Independence Day celebration in downtown Springdale.

Participation in politics among the Mexican diaspora has been low in past Mexican elections, Medina Vidal said. He strives to educate students in his classes of political issues abroad and reminds Mexicans in the U.S. that their voices can be heard across borders.

A version of this article appeared in the Sept. 13 edition of The Arkansas Traveler.

7hills Homeless Center Extends Outreach to Veterans

By Veronica Torres

The Razorback Reporter

Veterans who served active military duty and need assistance in getting temporary housing can turn to 7hills Homeless Center in Fayetteville.

The 16-year-old non-profit organization has goals of “ending homelessness and poverty with education, opportunities and hope,” according to the website.

“The ultimate goal is to develop a continuum of services and housing programs that will allow us to assist all clients and families, no matter their individual challenges and life circumstances,” according to

Beyond that goal, 7hills staff work with veterans in Washington, Benton and Madison counties.

Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) is aimed to promote housing among low-income and veteran families. The idea is to assist veterans and veterans’ families in transitioning to permanent housing, according to

SSVF offers short-term services for veterans, including case management, moving and storage costs maximum of three months, short-term rent assistance and/or arrears, short-term utility assistance and/or arrears, housing search assistance, security deposit once per two years, utility deposits once per three-year period, money management skills, job readiness assistance, childcare, community referrals, assistance obtaining public benefits and emergency supplies, according to

Seven Hills services are different for each individual.

“Homelessness is a really unique situation,” said Steven Mills, chief operating officer for the 7hills Homeless Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas. “Most of the homeless individuals don’t want to be homeless.”

There are eligibility requirements for the SSVF program. They must be from a veteran household, either being a veteran or a household where the head of household, or the spouse of the head of household, is a veteran. The veteran must have served in active military, naval, or air force and was discharged or released under non-dishonorable conditions. They must have very low-income meaning it would not exceed 50 percent of area median pre-tax income. And they must occupy permanent housing, meaning they are experiencing homelessness or at risk of losing permanent housing, but not SSVF assistance, according to

“I wouldn’t say there is a high volume of students coming through,” Mills said in an interview.

“Of the homeless population 37 percent are veterans in northwest Arkansas,” according to

“One of the No. 1 reasons for someone becoming homeless is because just a lack of a support system,” Mills said.

Affordable Housing Available for Veterans

By Leah Nelson 

The Razorback Reporter

The Fayetteville Housing Authority has four buildings which helps house people who need assistance with finding an affordable place to rent.

The housing authority has three programs with 878 rental units for people with low income and is on a first come, first serve bases.

The Fayetteville Housing Authority has a few veterans living in their four buildings but they’re either elderly or have a disability. Most veterans the housing authority helps are in the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development Veterans Association Supportive Housing program.

The VA provides veterans with health care, mental health care and substance use counseling to help them in their recovery process and their ability to maintain housing in the community, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website.

The program is for homeless veterans who are brought to the housing authority by the VA after the veterans’ case has been handled.

“They provide the supportive and we provide the housing,” said Joy Hunnicutt, the section 8 housing specialist at the Fayetteville Housing Authority.

Veterans work with case managers from the VA to help them pick a place to live if they meet certain requirements. If they are a registered sex offender they are not eligible for the program. The Fayetteville Housing Authority houses 112 veterans through HUD VASH vouchers, Hunnicutt said.

Case managers help veterans with their problems and get jobs, so they eventually earn a high enough income and they do not need to be in the affordable housing system anymore.

“Income isn’t initially an issue but veterans eventually go off the program because their income exceeds our maximum, low income requirement,” said Deniece Smiley the director of the Fayetteville Housing Authority.

The veterans have 120 days to use the voucher from the housing authority in order to receive an affordable housing rental. It takes veterans about one to two months to find a suitable one-bedroom apartment but they usually find a place quickly, Hunnicutt said.

“The difficult thing is that every veteran has a different situation they’re going through, so the time frame is different as well,” Hunnicutt said.

Campus, NWA Organizations Push for Suicide Awareness

By Lindsey Guimont

The Razorback Reporter

More than $40,000 has been raised toward awareness of suicide and research for prevention, organizers said this week after a successful event in Bentonville.

The Arkansas chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention presented the fourth annual Northwest Arkansas Out of the Darkness Walk Sunday. The event attracted loss survivors to commemorate those they lost to death by suicide and to promote prevention. Participants released yellow balloons at the end of the walk.

“We currently stand at over $40,000 raised and we have until the end of the year to raise more money,” Maureen Cover-Bryan, a loss survivor and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention volunteer, said in an interview.

Cover-Bryan participates in the foundation because she lost her son, Colin Bryan to death by suicide July 25, 2011, she said. Colin Bryan was an Army veteran paratrooper who was honorably discharged. He was being treated for mental illness up until his time of death.

“He was under care of a physician, a psychiatrist, under the care of the VA and he was receiving counseling,” Cover-Bryan said. “We knew he had suicidal thoughts and ideation and he was being medicated, yet still he had lots of problems and had been in and out of facilities for the last seven or eight months of his life.”

Cover-Bryan volunteers with the foundation, because they are the largest private provider of research funds for suicide, she said.

The Northwest Arkansas Out of the Darkness Walk was one of 320 such events nationwide. Organizations in northwest Arkansas are planning for more events throughout September. The Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks presented an event specifically for veterans, Sept. 9.

“We partnered with Arkansas Freedom Fund. It was a bike ride because one of the things that my passion here in Fort Smith is to get veterans involved in a cycling group. We have a cycling group named Project Hero Fort Smith,” said Ashley Moffett, suicide prevention coordinator for Veteran’s Health Care System of the Ozarks in Fayetteville and Fort Smith.

During the bike ride, Moffett said, they set up booths with awareness information and goodie bags with the Veterans Crisis Line phone number (800-273-8255). She also will set up similar booths at events throughout the month of September.

The University of Arkansas community is joining the effort to raise awareness and provide services for suicide prevention.

The Pat Walker Health Center will promote Let’s Talk, a program introduced on campus during the second week of September, said Michele Cooper, suicide prevention coordinator for Counseling and Psychological Services. Let’s Talk will be available in Bell Engineering on Tuesdays and the Arkansas Union on Fridays for students to be able to drop in and have a consultation with clinicians.

“It’s not traditional therapy, but it makes CAPS more accessible to everyone,” Cooper said.

Cooper and Counseling and Psychological Services also will participate in the Lane Marrs 5K Memorial Run in Fayetteville Sept. 16. They will have a table with officials from the Dean of Students offices and UofA Cares to provide information and support for anyone who needs it, she said.