IMG_0660Bilingual journalist Maria Esquinca, 21, is not afraid to knock heads to get her story.

By Sam Shaw

Maria Esquinca focuses on immigration and politics. Her coverage has run the gamut between interviewing detainees in immigration jails to asking hard questions of faculty members at her school, the University of Texas at El Paso.

Kathleen Flores, director of student publications at University of Texas at El Paso, commented on her tenacity.

“Her strongest trait is her fearlessness. She is willing to wade into any story and approach any source for a story,” Flores wrote in an e-mail.

Esquinca came to the U.S. as an infant and grew up in El Paso, but spent a lot of time on the other side of the border. The El Paso-Ciudad Juárez urban area straddles the U.S.-Mexico border. There, Esquinca developed her interest in the politics of immigration.

“As journalists, I feel like we’re doing a civic duty because we’re informing citizens about what’s going on in the world,” she said.

Esquinca is not daunted by the shifts in audience. She thinks that the journalist’s mandate remains the same regardless of the format.

“It’s our duty to inform people about what’s going on,” she said, “We’re telling stories that are relevant to people’s lives.”

Esquinca’s work covering immigration jails in El Paso reveals her empathic approach to her job. The story she found most interesting was about a man who had been detained after his car broke down and he asked for help. He was then mistreated at the detention center.

This summer, Esquinca will work at Crain’s Detroit Business. There, she hopes to do more of the investigative work she has done in the past.

Soon after, she plans to apply for graduate school, though she does not yet know whether she will study journalism or sociology.

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