María Esquinca is a reporter for Radio Bilingüe in Fresno, Calif, where she focuses on environmental issues in the San Joaquin Valley. A fronteriza, comfortable on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, she was born in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, and mostly grew up across the Rio Grande in El Paso, Texas. She is an M.F.A candidate at the University of Miami. She has focused her reporting on issues that affect communities of color like immigration, gentrification, and discrimination. She interned at WLRN, the New York Times Student Journalism Institute, and was a Dow Jones News Fund Business Reporting intern at Crain’s Detroit Business. As a News 21 Ethics and Excellence Fellow, she reported on lack of access to clean, drinking water in colonias along the U.S.-Mexico border. The story was re-published in outlets like The Texas Tribune and the Center for Public Integrity. During her undergraduate education, she was a reporter and editor at The Prospector, the student-run newspaper at the University of Texas at El Paso. Her stories earned her awards from the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association and the College Media Association. Her poetry has been published in Waxwing, The Florida Review, and Glass: A Journal of Poetry.
Beat: San Joaquin Valley
The San Joaquin Valley is often called the Appalachia of the West due to its severe poverty, low health outcomes for the working poor and environmental degradation by the agriculture and fossil fuel industries. Many Valley towns and cities are majority Latino, and this Reporter covers urgent issues in the Valley for Spanish speakers. The journalist also amplifies nationally the Valley’s universal low-income community concerns, such as the fight for access to clean water and air in many contaminated towns, as well as the impact of the administration’s new Public Charge rule, which requires the immigrant working poor to choose between essential public services for their families and losing their permanent residency and right to work.