Sandra Calles, PhD

Dr. Sandra Calles is a psychologist, educator, life coach, mentor and activist. Her passion is to advocate for causes she believes in, teach about mental health topics, and guide others, so they may achieve success in their personal and career endeavors.

She has over 11 years of experience as a mental health professional having worked at various mental health facilities. Most recently she was a therapist at Los Angeles Harbor College at the Life Skills Center. While at Harbor College, she helped many students overcome emotional obstacles so they could transfer to universities and meet their career goals. She devotes her personal and professional life to political causes, and activities that promote mental health, women’s issues, the empowerment of Latinas through education, business ownership, financial literacy and political engagement. Dr. Sandra is a graduate of California State University, Dominguez Hills, earning both a BA in Human Services and an MA in Clinical Psychology. She earned her doctorate from Saybrook University in Psychology, where she developed a treatment modality from her research on survivors of sudden cardiac death. The treatment plan known as PROSPER, is an acronym detailing a healing plan that can be applied to survivors of various traumas and is the underpinning for the work she does with her clients..... Continue Reading

News and Information

Perceptions of Discrimination among Mexican American Families of Seriously Ill Children

Betty Davies, R.N., Ph.D., FAAN,1,2
Judith Larson, Ph.D., F.T.,1
Nancy Contro, M.S.W.,3 and
Ana P. Cabrera, M.A.1
Accepted September 2, 2010

This paper describes Mexican American family members’ descriptions of perceived discrimination by pediatric health care providers (HCPs) and the families’ reactions to the HCPs’ discriminatory conduct. A retrospective, grounded theory design guided the overall study. Content analysis of interviews with 13 participants from 11 families who were recruited from two children’s hospitals in Northern California resulted in numerous codes and revealed that participants perceived discrimination when they were treated differently from other, usually white, families. They believed they were treated differently because they were Mexican, because they were poor, because of language barriers, or because of their physical appearance.

Participants reported feeling hurt, saddened, and confused regarding the differential treatment they received from HCPs who parents perceived “should care equally for all people.”

They struggled to understand and searched for explanations. Few spoke up about unfair treatment or complained about poor quality of care. Most assumed a quiet, passive position, according to their cultural norms of respecting authority figures by being submissive and not questioning them. Participants did not perceive all HCPs as discriminatory; their stories of discrimination derived from encounters with individual nurses or physicians. However, participants were greatly affected by the encounters, which continue to be painful memories.

Despite increasing efforts to provide culturally competent palliative care, there is still need for improvement. Providing opportunities for changing HCPs’ beliefs and behaviors is essential to developing cultural competence.

Link to Journal

Mexican and Canadian NAFTA Professional Worker


North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) creates special economic and trade relationships for the United States (U.S.), Canada and Mexico. The nonimmigrant NAFTA Professional (TN) visa allows citizens of Canada and Mexico, as NAFTA professionals, to work in the U.S. in a prearranged business activity for a U.S. or foreign employer. Permanent residents, including Canadian permanent residents, are not able to apply to work as a NAFTA professional.
How Can Professionals from Mexico and Canada Work in the U.S.?

Professionals of Canada or Mexico may work in the U.S. under the following conditions:

* Applicant is a citizen of Canada or Mexico;
* Profession is on the NAFTA list;
* Position in the U.S. requires a NAFTA professional;
* Mexican or Canadian applicant is to work in a prearranged full-time or part-time job, for a U.S. employer (see documentation required). Self employment is not permitted;
* Professional Canadian or Mexican citizen has the qualifications of the profession.

Note: The application requirements for citizens of Canada and Mexico, shown below are different.
Requirements for Canadian Citizens

Canadian citizens usually do not need a visa as a NAFTA Professional, although a visa can be issued to qualified TN visa applicants upon request. A Canadian citizen without a TN visa can apply at a U.S. port of entry. Learn about requirements and more on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website. Canadian citizens can also review information regarding TN visas through U.S. Embassy Ottawa’s website.

When Does a Canadian NAFTA Professional Need a Visa? A Canadian residing in another country with a non-Canadian spouse and child would need a visa to enable the spouse and child to be able to apply for a visa to accompany or join the NAFTA Professional, as a TD visa holder. Canadians applying for a visa will follow the same documentation requirements as shown in the sections Mexican Citizens, Applying for a TN Visa, and Required Documentation.
Requirements for Mexican Citizens

Mexican citizens require a visa to request admission to the U.S. (A USCIS approved petition is not required.)
Applying for a TN Visa

NAFTA applicants must meet specific requirements to qualify for a NAFTA Professional Worker (TN) visa under immigration law. The consular officer will determine whether you qualify for the visa. Applicants may apply at consular sections around the world for a NAFTA professional (TN) visa. As part of the visa application process, an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate is required for visa applicants from age 14 to 79, with few exceptions. Persons age 13 and younger, and age 80 and older, generally do not require an interview, unless requested by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Making your appointment for an interview is the first step in the visa application process. The waiting time for an interview appointment for applicants can vary, so early visa application is strongly encouraged. Visa wait times for interview appointments and visa processing time information for each U.S. Embassy or Consulate worldwide is available on our website at Visa Wait Times, and on most U.S. Embassy or Consulate websites. Visit the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website where you will apply for your visa to find out how to schedule an interview appointment, pay the fees and any other instructions.

During the visa application process, usually at the interview, an ink-free digital fingerprint scan will be quickly taken. Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant’s interview by a Consular Officer.
Required Documentation

Each applicant for a TN visa must adhere to the procedure as explained below:

* Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application, Form DS-160. Visit our DS-160 webpage to learn more about the DS-160 online process.
* A passport valid for travel to the U.S. and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant’s intended period of stay in the U.S. (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions).
* One (1) 2×2 photograph. See the required photo format explained in Nonimmigrant Photograph Requirements. A photograph is not required if you are applying in Mexico.
* Letter of Employment in the U.S. Additionally, the applicant’s employer in the U.S. must provide an employment letter that includes the following:
o The letter must indicate that the position in question in the U.S. requires the employment of a person in a professional capacity, consistent with the NAFTA Chapter 16, Annex 1603, Appendix 1603.d.1.
o The applicant must present evidence of professional employment to satisfy the Consular Officer of your plans to be employed in prearranged business activities for a U.S. employer(s) or entity(ies) at a professional level. Part-time employment is permitted. Self-employment is not permitted. An employment letter or contract providing a detailed description of the business activities may be provided from the U.S. or foreign employer, and should state the following:
o Activity in which the applicant shall be engaged and purpose of entry;
o Anticipated length of stay;
o Educational qualifications or appropriate credentials demonstrating professional status;
o Evidence of compliance with DHS regulations, and/or state laws; and
o Arrangements for pay.
o Although not required, proof of licensure to practice a given profession in the U.S. may be offered along with a job offer letter, or other documentation in support of a TN visa application.

What are the Required Visa Fees?

* Nonimmigrant visa application processing fee – For current fees for Department of State government services select Fees. You will need to provide a receipt showing the visa application processing fee has been paid, when you come for your visa interview.
* Visa issuance fee – Additionally, if the visa is issued, there will be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee, if applicable. Please consult the Visa Reciprocity Tables to find out if you must pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee and what the fee amount is.

Additional Documentation

Applicants must show their intended stay is temporary, without the intent to establish permanent residence. Additionally, applicants must demonstrate that they have the following:

* Education: The applicant’s employer must submit proof that the applicant meets the minimum education requirements or has the alternative credentials set forth in NAFTA agreement, chapter 16 appendix 1603.d.1. Evidence of professional qualifications may be in the form of degrees, certificates, diplomas, professional licenses, or membership in a professional organization. Degrees, diplomas, or certificates received from an educational institution outside the U.S., Canada, or Mexico must be accompanied by an evaluation by a reliable credentials evaluation service specializing in evaluating foreign documentation.
* Work Experience: Documentation proving to the applicant’s experience should be in the form of letters from former employers. If the applicant was self-employed, business records should be submitted proving that self-employment.

Is Licensure Required?

Requirements for NAFTA professional do not include licensure. Licensure to practice a given profession in the U.S. is a post-entry requirement subject to enforcement by the appropriate state or other sub-federal authority.
Spouses and Children

Spouses and children (unmarried children under the age of 21) who are accompanying or following to join NAFTA Professionals (TN visa holders) may receive a TD visa. Applicants must demonstrate a bona fide spousal or parent-child relationship to the principal TN visa holder. Dependents do not have to be citizens of Mexico or Canada. Spouses and children cannot work while in the U.S. They are permitted to study.

* Canadian citizen spouses and children do not need visas, but review the CBP website for the port of entry requirements:
* Spouse and children are not Canadian citizens – They must get a TD nonimmigrant visa from a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. They should review U.S. Embassy or Consulate website how to apply information.
* Mexican citizen spouses and children must apply for TD nonimmigrant visas at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate,
* Spouses or children following to join must show a valid I-94, thereby providing proof that the principal TN visa holder is maintaining his/her TN visa status.

Period of Stay and Extension of Stay

Review the USCIS website for NAFTA period of stay information. Canadian or Mexican citizens admitted as a NAFTA Professional may apply to USCIS for extension of stay.
NAFTA Professional Job Series List

For a complete list of professions with minimum education requirements and alternative credentials, see the NAFTA webpage, Appendix 1603.D.1 With some exceptions, each profession requires a baccalaureate degree as an entry-level requirement. If a baccalaureate is required, experience cannot be substituted for that degree. In some professions, an alternative criteria to a bachelor’s degree is listed. For some professions, experience is required in addition to the degree.
Additional Information

* No assurances regarding the issuance of visas can be given in advance. Therefore final travel plans or the purchase of nonrefundable tickets should not be made until a visa has been issued.
* Unless previously canceled, a visa is valid until its expiration date. Therefore, if the traveler has a valid U.S. visitor visa in an expired passport, do not remove the visa page from the expired passport. You may use it along with a new valid passport for travel and admission to the U.S.

Misrepresentation of a Material Facts, or Fraud

Attempting to obtain a visa by the willful misrepresentation of a material fact, or fraud, may result in the permanent refusal of a visa or denial of entry into the U.S. Classes of Aliens Ineligible to Receive Visas, provides important information about ineligibilities.
Visa Ineligibility/Waiver

Certain activities can make you ineligible for a U.S. visa. The Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-156, lists classes of persons who are ineligible under U.S. law to receive visas. In some instances an applicant who is ineligible, but who is otherwise properly classifiable as a visitor, may apply for a waiver of ineligibility and be issued a visa if the waiver is approved. Classes of Aliens Ineligible to Receive Visas provides important information about ineligibilities, by reviewing sections of the law taken from the immigration and Nationality Act.
Visa Denials

If the consular officer should find it necessary to deny the issuance of a TN visa, the applicant may apply again if there is new evidence to overcome the basis for the refusal. For additional information, select Denials to learn more.
Entering the U.S. – Port of Entry

Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the U.S. The visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to a port-of-entry in the U.S., such as an international airport, a seaport or a land border crossing, and request permission to enter the U.S. CBP, U.S. immigration inspector will permit or deny admission to the U.S., and determine your length of stay in the U.S., on any particular visit. Form I-94, Record of Arrival-Departure, which notes the length of stay permitted, is validated by the immigration official. Form I-94, which documents your authorized stay in the U.S., is very important to keep in your passport. Additionally, as a Mexican citizen seeking entry as a NAFTA professional, you must present evidence of professional employment to satisfy the Immigration Officer of your plans to be employed in prearranged business activities for a U.S. employer(s) or entity(ies) at a professional level. To find out more detailed information about admissions and entry in the U.S., select Admissions to go to the CBP website.
Staying Beyond Your Authorized Stay in the U.S. and Being Out of Status

* It is important that you depart the U.S. on or before the last day you are authorized to be in the U.S. on any given trip, based on the specified end date on your Arrival-Departure Record, Form I-94. Failure to depart the U.S. will cause you to be out-of-status. Staying beyond the period of time authorized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and being out-of-status in the U.S. is a violation of U.S. immigration laws, and may cause you to be ineligible for a visa in the future for return travel to the U.S. Select Classes of Aliens Ineligible to Receive Visas to learn more.
* Staying unlawfully in the U.S. beyond the date CBP officials have authorized, even by one day, results in your visa being automatically voided, in accordance with INA 222(g). Under this provision of immigration law, if you overstay on your nonimmigrant authorized stay in the U.S. your visa will be automatically voided. In this situation, you are required to reapply for a new nonimmigrant visa, generally in your country of nationality.

How Do I Extend My Stay?

Visitors who wish to stay beyond the date indicated on their Form I-94 are required to have approval by USCIS. See Extend Your Stay on the USCIS website.
How Do I Change My Status?

Some nonimmigrant visa holders, while present in the U.S., are able to file a request which must be approved by USCIS to change to another nonimmigrant category. See Change My Nonimmigrant Status on the USCIS website.

Important Note: Filing a request with USCIS for approval of change of status before your authorized stay expires, while you remain in the U.S., does not by itself require the visa holder to apply for a new visa. However, if you cannot remain in the U.S. while USCIS processes your change of status request, you will need to apply for a nonimmigrant visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.
Further Visa Inquiries

* Questions on visa application procedures and visa ineligibilities should be made to the American consular office abroad by the applicant. Before submitting your inquiry, we request that you carefully review this web site and also the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website abroad. Very often you will find the information you need.
* If your inquiry concerns a visa case in progress overseas, you should first contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate handling your case for status information. Select U.S. Embassy or Consulate, and you can choose the Embassy or Consulate website you need to contact.

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Canadian Work Permits

Dream Act

December 23, 2010
J. Perez

jperez2002 My musings Christian, DREAM Act, college admissions, immigration, Mennonite Central Committee, Reform, enculturation, Lynne Hybels Leave a comment

Lynne Hybels a prominent evangelical Christian woman posted on her blog the following post in regards to the DREAM Act. I am active support of this legislation as I have come into contact with many high school and college students that live in the shadows. In response to her blog I made the following comments in the hopes that reader of her blog would be better informed about what is at stake for many students in the US that have been education in our system, but when it comes to college they have been shut out. Below you will find her post and my comments.

Lynne Hybels: Like many of my friends, I am profoundly disappointed by Saturday’s defeat of the DREAM Act by just a few votes in the Senate. I have to confess this is the first time I have actually called the offices of politicians to ask for their vote on a particular piece of legislation. I had really hoped that Senator Kirk would change his mind and vote Yes. I’m grateful to Senator Dick Durbin for sponsoring and championing this bill, and to Representative Melissa Bean for voting Yes and helping to pass the bill in the House of Representatives last week.

I want to say to the many God-loving, hard-working young people—some in my church—whose hopes were dashed by the failure of the DREAM Act that you will not be forgotten. Your dreams will not be ignored. Your value and dignity depend not on the affirmation of any government, but on the affirmation of the God who created and loves you. Your friends will continue to work on your behalf.

My comments: Being a college administrator and one who has spoken extensively with high school and college students who are undocumented, the defeat of this bill was devastating not only for me but the students I work with. This has been shared before, but for some of the students that have a desire to pursue college degree do not discover their immigration status until they begin to apply for financial aid. I have had high school college counselors share with me their experiences in advising students who discover their status during the financial aid process. I would encourage all of you to watch “Papers.” Is the DREAM Act perfect? No, but it is a start and there are several laws that have far worse loopholes than the ones listed above. I believe that this is a moral issue for us as believers. If a Republican congress wants to work on new legislation I encourage them to do so.

In regards to immigrants being enculturated, Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform reports that within 10 years of arrival more than 75 percent of immigrants speak English well. Having parents myself who immigrated to this country from Mexico and watching them obtain US citizenship I would say if there was a path to legal residence, most immigrants would take it and be productive citizens of our country. I would also encourage all of you to get to know immigrants in your communities. You will be surprised by their resiliency and determination to succeed in spite of their circumstances. The Mennonite Central Committee which has put together excellent resources on immigration.


The Red State Blues Life in the Bush Leagues Sunday, April 18, 2010 Mexican American Political Activism At Mid-Century

Michael Phillips
Location: Plano, Texas, United States

Mexican American Political Activism At Mid-Century
I am a coauthor of an updated version of the college American history textbook, currently titled “American Dreams & Reality: A Retelling of the American Story.” Below I describe the civil rights struggles of Mexican Americans and Mexican immigrants during the time from 1945 to 1960.

From 1941-1945, close to 500,000 Mexican Americans served in the United States military out of a Hispanic population of about 2.7 million. In Los Angeles, Hispanics accounted for one-tenth of the total population but comprised one-fifth of the metropolis’ wartime casualties. Hispanics made up 25 percent of the victims of the “Bataan Death March” (in which the Japanese beat, shot and marched to death captured British and American prisoners of war in the Philippines), and Mexicans and Mexican Americans earned more medals of honor than any other demographic group.

The Mexican population in the United States increased dramatically during the post-World War II period, with Mexican immigrants increasing from 5.9 percent of all newcomers to 11.9 percent at the end of the 1950s. Part of this increase resulted from the bracero program, in which American landowners imported Mexicans as low-paid agricultural workers. The number of braceros brought in from Mexico jumped from about 35,000 in 1949 to 107,000 in 1960. In 1956, the bracero program peaked with more than 445,000 Mexicans working on American farms that year. Many braceros remained in the United States after their year-long contracts expired, joining a growing number of Mexicans who fled poverty in their country by crossing the American border.

Responding to Anglo concerns about the rising number of so-called “wetbacks” – the insulting term used for Mexican immigrants who supposedly crossed the border by swimming across the Rio Grande River – the federal government launched a crackdown on undocumented workers, “Operation Wetback,” in 1950. During the next five years, the government seized and deported nearly four million people whom authorities claimed were illegal immigrants, with Mexican American legal residents sometimes included in the sweeps. Immigration would heavily politicize the Mexican American community after the war, and many Hispanic political organizations battled to improve working conditions for migrant workers and to fight what they saw as harassment of the Mexican American community, including repeated FBI investigations of Hispanic labor unions which Anglo law enforcement insisted were communist fronts.

As with African Americans, Mexican American veterans of World War II returned from a war against racist fascist regimes impatient with the intolerance they still encountered at home. Passage of the G.I. Bill meant that more Mexican Americans attended college than ever before, and with increased enrollment at colleges and universities came rising expectations for a better life. The percentage of Hispanics living in towns and cities as opposed to rural areas dramatically increased after the war, reaching 65 percent in 1950, which facilitated political activism. Hispanic veterans in particular played a major role in the two primary Latino civil rights organizations of the post-war years: the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and the American GI Forum. Well-educated, often prosperous and urban Mexican American elites formed LULAC in Texas in the late 1920s. LULAC’s founders saw assimilation with the Anglo majority as a path toward winning acceptance in American society. They embraced a “Mexican American” identity that combined respect for Mexican traditions and pride in American citizenship. A major focus was “Americanizing” Mexican Americans and recent Mexican immigrants who still spoke Spanish.

“LULAC symbolized the rise of the Mexican middle class,” according to historian Rodolfo Acuña. “As in the past, the organization did not really serve the interests of the poor, but, rather, reflected the philosophy of the middle class, who wanted assimilation . . . To achieve its goal, the middle-class leadership demanded constitutional and human rights for all Mexicans . . . They demanded equality as North Americans; their major goals remained equal access to education and other public and private institutions, and the enactment of state laws to end discrimination against Mexicans.”

The Anglo response to Mexican Americans and immigrants in states like Texas and New Mexico varied widely, with discrimination more common and harsher in places with large Spanish-speaking populations. In such communities, authorities denied Mexican Americans access to public parks and swimming pools, and restaurants either would not serve Mexican American and Mexican patrons or would force them to take their food through a back window and eat outside. Though no formal law segregated Mexican and Mexican American children from Anglos in Texas schools, in districts with large Latino populations, school officials routinely assigned Hispanic children to separate, crowded and poorly funded schools.

In New Mexico, teachers taught Mexican school children in Spanish, which LULAC saw as a deliberate attempt to block these pupils from economic success in an English-speaking country. Mexican children fared poorly in Anglo-run school districts. Hispanic students rarely finished their public school education with a high school diploma. Many non-native speakers of English ended up assigned to remedial classes. In San Antonio in 1920, 11,000 students attended the district’s elementary schools, but there were only 250 high school graduates. In 1928, only 250 Mexican students attended colleges and universities in the entire state of Texas.

To address the high drop-out problem in the Mexican American community, in 1956 LULAC President Felix Tijerina established “The Little School of the 400” program designed to teach Spanish-speaking preschool children a 400-word vocabulary of basic English words before they began first grade. Like the NAACP, from the late 1920s through the post-World War II years LULAC helped members file lawsuits against informal school segregation in the public schools and to open access to higher education for the Mexican and Mexican American community.

In 1946, a U.S. District court in Southern California ruled, in Méndez v. Westminster School District, that segregating Mexican school children violated their constitutional rights, a decision later upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The dismantling of segregation in Texas began with the 1948 Delgado v. Bastrop ISD U.S. Supreme Court decision that banned school boards from placing Mexican-American students in different schools than Anglo children. These cases established a precedent for the Brown decision. In the 1957 Hernandez v. Driscoll CISD case, the court ruled that a Texas district’s practice of holding back Mexican American children in grades one and two for four years served as a form of discrimination.

Dr. Hector Garcia formed the American GI Forum (AGIF) in Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1948 to serve Mexican American veterans who frequently did not receive Veterans Administration benefits on time. Shut out by the Anglo-run American Legion, Garcia and others decided to form their own veterans’ group. The AGIF grabbed national headlines in 1949 when it led protests against a Three Rivers, Texas, funeral home that denied the use of a chapel to the family of Army Private Felix Longoria, who died in combat in World War II. The AGIF launched an intense lobbying campaign. Lyndon Johnson, at the time a U.S. senator from Texas, successfully persuaded authorities to grant a full funeral service for Longoria at Arlington National Cemetery. Angered by the treatment of Longoria, Mexican American veterans across the country flocked to the GI Forum and by the end of 1949, there were 100 AGIF chapters in 23 states across the country. With its ladies’ auxiliary, entire families could participate in GI Forum events, a key to its success.

The LULAC and AGIF leadership tended to be conservative, and through the 1950s often presented Mexican Americans as a white ethnic group with a distinct cultural identity but American loyalties. As such, the leaders of these groups distanced themselves from the African American civil rights movement, were often critical of black civil rights protests, and sometimes even used racist terms to describe African American leaders. Nevertheless, Mexican American politicians like Henry B. Gonzalez of Texas threw his support behind the NAACP and black desegregation efforts. The Chicano movement of the late 1960s would bring increased efforts to unite blacks and browns in a common battle against racism.

Michael Phillips is the author of “White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity and Religion in Dallas, 1841-2001” published in 2006, and “The House Will Come To Order: How the Texas Speaker Became a Power in State and National Politics,” co-written with Patrick Cox and published in 2010 by The University of Texas Press

Letter to the editor. New York Times

To the Editor

Hispanics are traditionally ignored by most media as the largest ethnic minority

Re-In Job Hunt, College Degree Can’t Close Racial Gap by Michael Luo

Nov. 30, 2009

I Goggled Hispanic joblessness and got no results to my query. This is typical of the stereotypic view of Hispanics in the United States.  The Internet media and the East Coast publishing empire are provincial in thinking that Hispanics do not exist in U.S.  The general media in the U.S. does not know that the largest ethnic minority in the U.S are Hispanics and not Blacks; which is not intended to ignore the need to point out racism for both Blacks and Hispanics.

What I can tell you is that according to the Current Population Survey of 2008 the total percentage of employed occupations in Management professional and related occupations was 8.3% for Black or African American and 7.1% for Hispanic or Latino.  From the start Hispanics are underreprested and Mexicans fare much worse.

According The U.S Department of Labor, in 2007 job losers and persons who completed temporary job were  44.1% for Black or African American and 52.1% for Hispanic or Latinos.

Humberto Gutiérrez


Commercial interior designer earns award
David Burge / El Paso Times
Posted: 08/25/2009 12:00:00 AM MDT

Patty Holland-Branch, founder and CEO of Facilities Connection, stands inside her West Side office which showcases some of the office furniture and commercial design elements sold by her 22-year-old interior design company. (Victor Calzada / El Paso Times)
EL PASO — Patty Holland-Branch knows how to put together space, furniture, and color to make an office a nice place to work and also convey a company’s preferred image.

Those design skills have made Holland-Branch and her 22-year-old El Paso company, Facilities Connection, succeed in commercial interior design. But other skills have made the company click and grow.

“We always have to be re-creating ourselves. That’s how our business has survived,” said Holland-Branch, founder, owner, and CEO of the West Side company she started in 1987 in a West Side condo she shared with her children.

The company now has about 30 employees, including three other interior designers, and is headquartered at an acre site at 240 E. Sunset on the West Side.

Through the years, the company has diversified its services beyond traditional interior design. It now also sells, installs, and maintains furniture; provides move management, and offers information technology services. In the past few years, it also has shifted its customer base from mostly private companies, including the maquiladora industry, to a large focus on the military and other government agencies.

That shift, which required spending years learning the ins and outs of federal contracting, is responsible for the company’s revenues growing 411 percent from 2003 through last year, Holland-Branch said. She did not provide revenue numbers.

The success caught the attention of the Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers
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of Commerce, which earlier this month named Holland-Branch, 65, a native of Chihuahua City, Mexico, as Texas Hispanic Business Woman of the Year.

Cindy Ramos-Davidson, CEO of the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said the local chamber nominated Holland-Branch for the award because of her company’s longevity, and growth, but also because she figured out how to “re-engineer” the company to find new opportunities with the federal government. She also is focused on knowing her clients and how best to meet their needs, Ramos-Davidson said.

“There’s a difference between those who service their customers and those who really care about their customers,” as Holland-Branch does, Ramos-Davidson said.

Holland-Branch said her husband, Dave Branch, 62, president of the company, gets credit for helping the company move into the federal contracting arena.

Dave Branch said he focuses on much of the business management side of the company while his wife focuses more on the creative, and client-services side.

Holland-Branch, who said she’s always had a creative streak, said designing some homes and a restaurant years ago convinced here that interior design was her forte. She received a degree in interior design technology from El Paso Community College, and worked for an El Paso interior design company for three years before going into business for herself in 1987.

Cindy Bilbe, president of Stewart Title, which hired Facilities Connection to design and furnish the interior of its 12,000 square-foot Downtown office and three branches, said Holland-Branch has “an extremely good eye for space planning and color selection,” and also delivers what she promises. Holland-Branch was involved in all aspects of the Stewart Title project, including talking to the Downtown office’s 20 employees to find out their space and desk needs so the interior and furniture worked for them, Bilbe said.

The design featuring Southwest colors has increased employee morale, and has received great customer reviews, Bilbe said.

Facilities Management also recently designed and furnished the interior of the new JDW Insurance offices on the seventh and eighth floors of the Chase Bank Building. That design features more muted tones to convey a more “classic” executive style, Holland-Branch said.

“You see a lot of designers where everything looks like them (their tastes). For Patty, everything looks like the customer,” Dave Branch said. “She can take the personality of a person and turn it into a work space where everything works.”

Vic Kolenc may be reached at; 546-6421.

Personal file
# Name: Patty Holland-Branch
# Job: Founder, owner and CEO of Facilities Connection Inc., a 22-year-old commercial interior design company, which also sells, installs, and maintains office furniture; does move management; and provides information technology services.
# Background: Born in Chihuahua City, Mexico. Moved to El Paso at age 6 when her father, an engineer for Asarco, was transferred here.
# Family: Married 21 years to her second husband, Dave Branch, 62, Facilities Connection president. Five children and nine grandchildren.
# Education: Austin High School graduate. Associate’s degree in interior design technology from El Paso Community College.
# Quote: “I love creating things. I also like solving problems. I have a passion to work with my customers.”

Award winners
TheTexas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce gave these awards to El Paso area business people at its recent state convention:
# Texas Hispanic Business Woman of the Year: Patty Holland-Branch, CEO and founder of Facilities Connection.
# Texas Hispanic Business Man of the Year: Ray Hernando, owner of RHO Logistics.
# Texas Corporate Hispanic Business Advocate of the Year: Maria Mendez, vice chair of corporate relations, Aetna insurance.
# Large Hispanic Chamber of the Year: El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Source: El”Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
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Mexican Professionals flee Drug War

Mexicans fleeing drug war help El Paso house market

Wed Sep 10, 2008 2:41pm EDT

EL PASO, Texas (Reuters) – Mexicans fleeing a gruesome drug war are buying homes across the border in El Paso, helping keep the Texan city’s property market afloat despite the worst U.S. housing crisis in decades.

With clashes between rival drug gangs leaving dead bodies on the streets of the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez almost daily, hundreds of middle class Mexicans are selling up and moving to El Paso, just over the Rio Grande.

The cities are a short walk apart, but there have been 12 homicides in El Paso this year compared to some 900 in Ciudad Juarez, where law and order has collapsed as Mexico’s most wanted man Joaquin “Shorty” Guzman battles local drug baron Vicente Carrillo Fuentes for U.S. smuggling routes.

The increase in the number of Mexican buyers has helped support El Paso’s housing market. While foreclosures hit a record high across the United States between April and June, El Paso estate agents report brisk sales of houses and apartments in the $80,000 to $300,000 range and broadly steady prices.

“Our market is not a plummeting market compared to the rest of the country,” said Dan Olivas, president of the Greater El Paso Association of Realtors.

“A lot of that is buoyed by a substantial number of people from Juarez coming over to buy properties for security reasons, for fear of kidnappings, extortion, cartel violence,” he said.

Already notorious for a spate of brutal murders of young women in the 1990s, Ciudad Juarez has become Mexico’s most violent city in a drug war that has killed some 2,700 people nationwide so far this year. Some 3,000 troops were sent to the city of 1.5 million but they have failed to stop the chaos.

El Paso real estate brokers say demand from over the border began rising early this year as the drug violence flared, and has ballooned since then as murders, abductions, extortions and car theft have spiraled. Many Mexicans are even paying cash.

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“…And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
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T.S. Eliot
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Press Release

2015 Annual Report on Mexican American Professionals Now Available

The 2015 Annual Report on Mexican American Professionals is now available on

News from the 2015 American Community Service shows good increases in the numbers of Mexican Americans attending college, achieving educational attainment, and holding jobs in industries including science, management, and business.

• Mexican American college enrollment increased from 18.7% to 18.9% between 2014 and 2015
• Graduate or professional degree attainment among Mexican Americans rose from 2.9% to 3.0%
• The number of Mexican Americans achieving bachelor’s degrees rose from 7.6% to 7.8% in 2015

Despite these numbers, Mexican Americans are still near the bottom of college enrollment and educational attainment by race and ethnicity.

The University of California is proactive in pushing for a greater number of underrepresented minorities. The number Chicano/Latino students attending UOC increased by 2.7% since 2014; this group now makes up 32.3% of admitted university freshmen.

In terms of occupations, the number of Mexican Americans making up part of the management, business, science, and art occupations continues to rise, from 16.6% to 17.5% from 2012 to 2015. Mexican Americans have also seen consistent numbers in the professional, scientific, management, administrative, and waste management services occupations, keeping steady at 10.2% of all jobs in these fields held by Mexican Americans.

These numbers represent continuing gains in higher education and professional jobs for Mexican Americans. For more, visit