Julian Aguilar, Texas Tribune

Texas Tribune Reporter

Julian Aguilar covered the 81st legislative session for the Rio Grande Guardian. Previously, he reported from the border for the Laredo Morning Times. A native of El Paso, he has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Texas and a master's degree in journalism from the Frank W. Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism at the University of North Texas.

Texas Tribune

A federal appellate court has affirmed a lower court’s decision that banning the purchase of handguns by people younger than 21 does not infringe on a person’s constitutional rights.

The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, which has appellate jurisdiction over districts in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, made the unanimous decision Thursday. It affects the sale of weapons by federally licensed firearms dealers.

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Travis County resident Michael Moore isn’t dead. And he doesn’t know why he has to prove it to be able to vote.

Moore received one of about 82,000 letters recently mailed out by elections officials asking recipients to verify their voter status and prove they are not deceased, the result of a little-known House bill passed last year by the Legislature.

House Bill 174, sponsored by state Rep. Jim Jackson, R-Carrollton, requires the Texas secretary of state’s office to access the Social Security Administration’s death master file to check for deceased or possibly deceased registered voters and purge them from voter rolls.

Jacob Villanueva, Texas Tribune

Immigration lawyers and legal scholars say applicants who are approved for deferred action will be able to obtain state-issued ID cards and driver’s licenses under state policies, despite their lack of official legal status in the country.

Gov. Rick Perry on Monday issued a memo to state agencies reminding them that despite the federal policy that allows some illegal immigrants a two-year reprieve from deportation and a renewable work permit, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, Texas' policies on individuals in the country illegally remain unchanged.

Perry’s office said the governor had no plans to issue an executive order to amend any state policies and did not mention a specific agency he was concerned with. Instead, he used the federal government’s own words to reiterate that applicants — even if approved — hold no status or pathway to citizenship.

“In fact, the [Department of Homeland Security] secretary specifically closed her directive by explaining that [t]his memorandum confers no substantive right, immigration status or pathway to citizenship,” Perry wrote in a letter to Attorney General Greg Abbott dated Aug. 16.

Ben Philpott

Gov. Rick Perry advised state agencies on Monday that despite the Obama administration’s “deferred action” policy allowing illegal immigrants a two-year reprieve from deportation and a renewable work permit, Texas' policies on persons in the country illegally remain unchanged.

Perry's rebuke of the president's plan, which he called a "slap in the face to the rule of law," comes a week after it took effect.

Carrying the weight of his murdered son’s memory, a Mexican poet is leading a national caravan — with stops in Austin and several other Texas cities — to publicly condemn American drug policies.

Javier Sicilia and his Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity, a group whose members have been affected by drug-related violence in Mexico — including several who have lost loved ones — will descend on the state Capitol on Aug. 25. The group aims to raise awareness of how it says U.S. drug policy, particularly the war on drugs, has affected Mexico.

“In order to protect the 23 million drug consumers in the United States, this nation initiated this war that has destroyed Colombia and which now in turn is destroying Mexico, Central America, and is also menacing to destroy in the medium term the United States itself,” Sicilia wrote on the movement’s website. “The burden we bear upon us contains the weight of our dead, of our missing ones, of those displaced, of our criminalized and humiliated immigrants.”

Jacob Villanueva, Texas Tribune

new ad in toss-up state Nevada warns Hispanic voters that a vote for President Obama is a vote for the “deporter-in-chief” — an incumbent who fell short on his campaign promise to enact immigration reform.

"Since he took office, President Obama has broken up hundreds of thousands of families through a policy of massive deportations,” Alfonso Aguilar, the executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, said in a news release. “He has been hoodwinking the American people, deploring the Arizona and Georgia immigration laws as bad laws, while deporting more immigrants than any modern president.” 

The ad, paid for by the conservative nonprofit American Principles in Action, is part of a larger strategy by Republicans to challenge the perception that Democrats are friendlier toward immigrants than they are.

graphic by: Todd Wiseman / Kyle Steed

The Obama administration next week will begin accepting applications for deferred action from what it expects to be hundreds of thousands of immigrants in the country illegally.

The policy, which was announced June 15, grants relief from deportation proceedings to certain immigrants who meet certain guidelines. Two-year work permits will also be issued to qualified applicants.

KUT News

Immigrants brought to the country illegally by their parents will likely not face prosecution or other repercussions — and neither will their families — if they apply for a new federal program that allows them to avoid deportation, federal officials said Friday.

Under a policy shift announced in June, certain illegal immigrants beginning Aug. 15 can apply for what the government calls deferred action. It would release them from deportation proceedings and allow them to apply for work permits. The renewable status will last two years.

But officials also warned that applicants for deferred action who knowingly lie, attempt fraud or do not meet the criteria but apply anyway could be considered immigration-enforcement priorities and turned over to prosecutors for removal proceedings.

Photo Illustration courtesy Texas Tribune

San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro said Tuesday morning that despite growing speculation about his political future after being named the Democratic National Convention’s keynote speaker, he is content leading the city of San Antonio.

“I am doing exactly what I want to do, and I am excited about the progress that we have made here,” Castro told the Tribune. “When I thought about getting into public service, this was the role that I looked forward to, and it’s exciting to actually see progress in San Antonio. So, I can’t see anything out there that would change my mind.”

Todd Wiseman / CIMMYT for Texas Tribune

The likely return to power of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, in Mexico has prompted Mexicans and Texans alike to question whether the party’s former alleged practice of making deals with cartel members will be the standard after President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto is sworn on Dec. 1.

But some experts on U.S.-Mexico relations say that what the party is likely to do — focus on the most brutal elements of organized crime — isn’t deal-making or playing favorites, but instead similar to what American law enforcement does: focus resources where they are needed most.

Peña Nieto edged leftist candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador after garnering 38.2 percent of the vote, or 19.2 million ballots, to López Obrador’s 31.6 percent, about 15.9 million. Josefina Vázquez Mota, of current President Felipe Calderón’s National Action Party, finished third with 25.4 percent, about 12.8 million ballots cast, according to the official and final computations released late Monday by the country’s Federal Electoral Institute.

Edgar Alberto Domínguez Cataño / Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

MEXICO CITY — After 12 years of rule under the conservative National Action Party, Mexicans on Sunday appeared to have elected a candidate from the Institutional Revolutionary Party to lead Texas’ largest trade partner and southern neighbor. 

Enrique Peña Nieto, 45, the former governor of the state of Mexico, was projected to best challengers Josefina Vázquez Mota of the National Action Party and Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the leftist progressive alliance, made up of the Party of the Democratic Revolution and the Labor Party. Peña Nieto, who would succeed President Felipe Calderón, would be sworn in in December and serve a single six-year term; Mexican law prohibits presidents from serving more than one term.

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld a key provision of Arizona’s controversial immigration law that requires police officers to verify the legal status of people they stop or arrest. But it struck down much of the rest of the bill, including a measure that would have make it a crime for unauthorized immigrants to work. 

The long-awaited decision in Arizona v. United States could prompt other states to craft their own versions of Arizona's SB 1070, signed into law by Gov. Jan Brewer in 2010. But they'd have to do it narrowly, according to Monday's Supreme Court ruling. 

Though justices upheld the “papers, please” provision, several other provisions of the bill were struck down. Those include a section of the law that makes it a crime if an immigrant fails to carry proof of legal status; a provision that makes it a crime for an unauthorized immigrant to work, apply for work or solicit work; and a provision that would have allowed police to stop and arrest anyone whom they believe to be an illegal immigrant.

Caleb Bryant Miller, Texas Tribune

The Obama administration announced Friday that, effective immediately, it will begin issuing work permits and grant relief from deportation to certain illegal immigrants brought to the country before they were 16 years old and are currently younger than 30.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera for Texas Tribune

Texas Democrats, trying to compete in a state that overwhelmingly favors Republican candidates for executive, legislative and judicial offices, elected their first Hispanic chairman Saturday.

In a reflection of the state’s burgeoning Hispanic growth and the party’s longtime success with Latinos, delegates overwhelmingly elected Gilberto Hinojosa as the next party chairman. He will replace outgoing chairman Boyd Richie, who announced in April 2011 that he would not seek another term after six years on the job.

Hinojosa successfully breathed some life into the sparse crowd on the convention floor with a fiery speech before the delegates cast an overwhelming majority of votes in his favor.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera for Texas Tribune

Late Friday night, Texas Republicans approved an unprecedented change to their official party platform: a call for a national guest-worker program.

The more moderate language is a welcoming gesture to Hispanics who have avoided the GOP because of what they view as its hardline position on immigration issues. 

"It takes away a tool that Democrats have used for years to drive a wedge between conservative Hispanics and Republicans," said TexasGOPvote.com's Bob Price, who is also a delegate at the Republican Party's state convention.

Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune / Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

A charismatic personality isn't going to end the Texas Democratic Party long electoral drought, three prominent local officeholders said Friday. But bickering Republicans and a renewed effort to build their party and their bench of candidates will help bring Texas Democrats back into statewide office.

Spencer Selvidge, Texas Tribune

HOUSTON — Texas Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Richie said Thursday during his final convention as the party’s leader that despite his disappointment in being unable to propel a candidate to victory in a statewide race during his six-year tenure, the party should still reflect on the significant milestones it has accomplished.

Photo illustration by Todd Wiseman / Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

Citing an unprecedented level of unaccompanied illegal-immigrant minors breaching the U.S.-Mexico border, Gov. Rick Perry sent a letter Friday asking the Obama administration to address the “humanitarian crisis.”

Calling the issue a byproduct of Obama’s failed effort to secure the border, Perry cites recent media reports that indicate 5,200 unaccompanied and illegal-immigrant minors crossed in to the country during the first six months of the 2012 fiscal year, including 1,300 in March alone. It is unclear from the letter how many minors crossed into Texas.

“To be clear, Texas has been working diligently to protect the immediate health and safety of our citizens and the unaccompanied minors now in our state. However, by failing to take immediate action to return these minors to their countries of origin and prevent and discourage others from coming here, the federal government is perpetuating the problem,” Perry wrote.

Photo illustration by Ben Hasson for the Texas Tribune

Texas economists are confident that the financial upheavals long associated with Mexican elections are a thing of the past. Still, they are closely watching what this summer's presidential contest means for the peso and, in turn, Texas' symbiotic business ties to Mexico.

Texas politicians are paying close attention, too — to whether the trade, security and energy policies of President Felipe Calderón’s successor will affect illegal immigration or the state’s robust trade relationship with Mexico.

Three Texas customs districts, Laredo, El Paso and Houston, rank among Mexico’s top four trading partners. Collectively, they accounted for roughly $235 billion in trade between Texas and Mexico from January to September 2011, according to United States Census data analyzed by WorldCity, which tracks global trade patterns. The figures show an increase over 2010 despite the American recession and unprecedented violence in Mexico because of warring drug cartels.

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