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.

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.

Photo by Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

Despite Latinos' mounting disapproval for President Obama over his administration’s immigration policies, a majority of the demographic would still prefer to see him in the White House over his Republican challengers.

study conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center found that 59 percent of Latinos disapprove of his handling of illegal immigrants in this country while 27 percent approve. The center estimates that about 81 percent of the 11.2 million illegal immigrants in the country are of Hispanic descent, although the group accounted for 97 percent of the immigrants deported in 2010.

“Deportations have reached record levels under President Obama, rising to an annual average of nearly 400,000 since 2009, about 30 percent higher than the annual average during the second term of the Bush administration and about double the annual average during George W. Bush’s first term,” according to the report.

Photo illustration by Todd Wiseman and Matthew High with the Texas Tribune

Surveillance helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft will take the place of about 900 U.S. National Guard troops on the southern border as early as next year, according to information released today by the federal government.

The White House announced last week that it planned to reduce the number of troops to concentrate instead on an aerial strategy, something the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said today would enhance its relationship with the U.S. Department of Defense. Only 300 active troops will remain on the border.

The decision, however, sparked a party-line split among members of Texas’ delegation in Washington. U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, criticized the move as irresponsible and assailed the president on immigration policy.

Photo by Simrat Sharma KUT News

The U.S. Department of Justice informed the Texas Secretary of State’s office that it has yet to provide the federal government sufficient information about the contentious voter ID law — which could affect the bill's scheduled implementation date of Jan. 1.

Photo by Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

Immigration and Customs Enforcementannounced this week it deported more immigrants during the 2011 fiscal year than it did in any year since the agency's 2003 inception. The total includes more than 216,700 people convicted of felonies and misdemeanors.

Photo illustration by Todd Wiseman / Bob Daemmrich

Was it the latest in a string of campaign-trail mistakes, the gaffe of an inexperienced candidate outside the friendly confines of Texas, or a legitimate conversation starter for an issue now too large to ignore?

Photo by Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Many Democrats are crowing that the 82nd Legislature will go down as one in which, despite the "emergency" push for sanctuary cities legislation, nothing emerged from the Capitol that waill substantially alter the way immigration laws are enforced.

Jacob Villanueva/Texas Tribune

It was an awkward moment for the swashbuckling, gun-toting governor of Texas. Fresh off the heels of several raucous welcomes before adoring groups of conservatives across the country, Gov. Rick Perry found himself staring into a crowd more intent on dessert than the speech he was delivering, and in his home state no less.

Photo by KUT

Like parents threatening to withhold allowance from a misbehaving child, proponents of the Republican-backed sanctuary cities bill are warning local authorities across the state: Comply with the bill or face the fiscal consequences.

Photo by Todd Wiseman

U.S. law enforcement officers in Hidalgo County today received heavy weapons fire from Mexico, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The exchange happened when law enforcement officers participating in a multi-agency Texas Ranger Recon operation attempted to interdict a load of drugs. Three law enforcement patrol boats were notified of a suspicious vehicle and two recovery boats on the U.S. side of the border. They were fired on when they arrived at the scene.

Photo by Liang Shi/KUT News

Republican lawmakers in Texas, unfazed by state governments across the country opting out of a controversial immigration enforcement program, are instead seeking to expand it here.

Photo by Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

Gov. Rick Perry has added controversial immigration and homeland security measures to the agenda for the special legislative session that began last week.

Perry added abolishing “sanctuary cities,” the common term for entities that prohibit law enforcement from inquiring about immigration status, to the special session "call" — the list of items he’s asking lawmakers to address. The item was the only one of six "emergency items," so designated by Perry, that didn’t make it the governor’s desk during the regular session that ended last month. The governor has also asked lawmakers to address matters relating to the federal government’s Secure Communities program, which is administered by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The initiative compares the fingerprints of those arrested to a federal database to determine if the individual is eligible for deportation under current immigration laws. Additionaly, the call includes matters relating to “the issuance of driver’s licenses and personal identification certificates.”

Photo by KUT

A decision by the U.S. Supreme Court last week upholding an Arizona law that punishes employers who hire illegal immigrants may give Texas lawmakers some newfound momentum to file immigration-related legislation with the hope that the governor adds the topic to the special session now underway.

Photo by Mose Buchele/KUT News

Legislation that would grant the state authority to erect southbound checkpoints near the Texas-Mexico border was successfully revived today after lawmakers attached it as an amendment to a bill concerning record sharing by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.

Photo courtesy The Texas Tribune

Sanctuary cities legislation was revived today and will be sent to the Texas Senate for consideration.

Photo courtesy The Texas Tribune

In a last-ditch effort to tweak one of their most despised bills of the session, House Democrats tried — and failed — to adopt several amendments today to the “sanctuary cities” bill initially passed by the House late Monday.