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We’ve been hearing a lot lately from politicians and public figures about crimes committed by immigrants to the U.S., but a new study by a group of researchers, including a University of Texas at Austin professor, suggests foreign-born teens are actually much less likely to commit crimes than those born in the U.S.

Guatemalan Activist Granted Stay of Deportation

Aug 18, 2015
Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

Sulma Franco, an LGBTQ activist from Guatemala, was granted a stay of deportation today by immigration officials in San Antonio. She traveled this morning from Austin to San Antonio with a group of activists and supporters to submit her application for the stay.

Franco had been facing deportation, and since June she'd been living in sanctuary at Austin's First Unitarian Universalist Church. Franco requested asylum in the U.S., but was denied based on a “clerical error,” according to activists working for her cause.

In Guatemala, LGBTQ activists have been targeted and killed, Franco argued. She says that she feared for her life there.

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When you hear the words "Mexican immigrant," what image pops into your head? 

Maybe you're picturing a male day laborer. But Rogelio Saenz from the University of Texas at San Antonio says the latest data does not reflect that.

"Women are becoming​ much more a part of the Mexican immigrant population," Saenz says.

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

A federal judge ruled Friday in favor of immigrant rights lawyers who have said the current detention of immigrant children violates a court settlement from 1997 known as the Flores vs Meese Agreement. U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee issued her decision in California.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has yet to announce how it will proceed. DHS recently changed the rules of how it releases mothers and children currently in detention. 

State Seeks to Dismiss Lawsuit Over Birth Certificates

Jul 23, 2015
Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Wednesday asked a federal district judge to dismiss a lawsuit that claims a state agency violated the U.S. Constitution by denying birth certificates to U.S.-citizen children of immigrant parents.

Attorneys with Paxton’s office said that the Texas Department of State Health Services, which is being sued by 17 families living in Cameron, Hidalgo and Starr counties, has sovereign immunity under the 11th Amendment and cannot be sued in federal court because it has not waived that right, according to court documents. 

The immunity extends to interim DSHS Commissioner Kirk Cole and State Registrar Geraldine Harris, who are also named as defendants in the suit, Paxton's office argues.

Congress to Vote on Sanctuary Cities

Jul 22, 2015
Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: Republicans in Texas who grouse that the federal government doesn’t enforce immigration laws might soon have Congress to thank for beefing up enforcement at the state and local levels.

The U.S. House is on track to vote later this week on legislation that would cut off federal funding for cities that don't enforce immigration laws. 

Most members of Congress interviewed by The Texas Tribune on Tuesday had not yet read the legislation — dubbed the Enforce the Law for Sanctuary Cities Act — but said they were considering it ahead of the likely Thursday vote. 

“I think we need to obey the law, but I want to see what sort of language they have on it,” said U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Laredo Democrat.

DonkeyHotey / flickr

From Texas Standard:

Immigration is often discussed in terms of government policy and official enforcement efforts – or lack thereof, depending on whom you ask. But when citizens take actions into their own hands, the dimensions of the discussion get more complicated.

In Dallas, one landlord is reportedly checking the immigration status of tenants and rejecting lease renewals of those who don’t have social security numbers. Now some people are urging Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and the Dallas City Council to step in and stop these unofficial immigration checks.

Jessica Wright/flickr

What does it mean to be a "welcoming" city?

More specifically, what would Austin need to do to become more welcoming toward people from other countries? Perhaps it would need to implement signage in different languages, or perhaps, it'd need to do other things.

In order to find out what those other things are, a team of advisors recently surveyed Austinites and is compiling the answers into a report.

Joy Diaz/KUT News

For the mothers and children detained at an immigrant facility in Karnes County, about 100 miles south of Austin, their best chance for release is to find attorneys willing to represent them pro bono.

And in turn, the lawyers willing to take on these cases need specific training. So this week at the University of Texas School of Law, a group of immigration attorneys attended a training session to brush up on the type of asylum cases faced by the women and children housed at Karnes County Residential Center.

Screenshot from Youtube.

Update Wednesday, April 15, 2015, 3:30 p.m. Council member Don Zimmerman confirmed that Rebecca Forest has stepped down from her appointment to the Immigrant Affairs Commission.

Of Forest's remarks, made at the 2011 rally (see the youtube video below), Zimmerman said, "I don't judge Rebecca Forest by a clumsy remark. I judge her based on ten years of knowing her, and she's not a bigoted person."

KUT News

Hispanic evangelicals in Texas have common ground with some conservative Texas lawmakers on issues like same-sex marriage and abortion. When it comes to a measure known as the sanctuary cities bill, however, evangelicals say their faith stops them from supporting the measure.

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT News

More than 40 mothers held in the Karnes Detention Center started a hunger strike Tuesday to protest for their release, according to the San Antonio legal aid organization RAICES. The center detains immigrant families who cross the border illegally.

RAICES says it recorded a phone call with a detainee, which it posted to YouTube. In it, a woman speaking in Spanish confirms the strike and reports that more women are joining up.

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

There's a new petition making the rounds through Texas and the United States.

Its goal is to end the incarceration of immigrant mothers and children. A catalyst for the petition was a recent wave of suicide attempts by some of the women in detention in facilities in Texas.

The Obama administration wants to move forward with its Deferred Action Program that would shield some illegal immigrants from deportation. But a federal court halted the administration's program last week.

On Monday, the administration asked the court to lift last week's order. In its request, the administration is offering options: Let the program go forward nationwide or let it go forward everywhere except in Texas.

KUT News

The Department of Homeland Security says it has found no evidence that women at the Karnes Immigrant Detention Center in Texas are being sexually assaulted. DHS released the results of its investigation today.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) says the DHS investigation was not thorough enough.

Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune:

Allowing undocumented students to pay in-state tuition is the “morally right thing to do,” University of Texas System Chancellor William McRaven said Thursday.

“My job is to help educate the young men and women of Texas,” McRaven said in an interview with Texas Tribune CEO and Editor in Chief Evan Smith. “If we have been doing that for these undocumented students for, at a minimum, the past three years as they’ve made it through high school, and in many cases since they were in elementary school, I think it’s appropriate to continue to educate them.”

Joy Diaz/KUT News

Mexican Consulates all over the U.S. are now providing Mexican nationals with birth certificates. The change comes after President Obama's executive action that would prevent some undocumented adults from deportation. That program is believed to be similar to the deferred action for children.

In the past, birth certificates for Mexican nationals came from relatives back home, and the process normally took weeks, if not months.

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

Texas is part of a lawsuit filed by 17 states over President Obama's executive action on immigration. The lawsuit was filed Wednesday afternoon in the Federal District Court in Texas and names the heads of immigration enforcement agencies as defendants. 

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is ordering all state agencies under control of the governor's office to use E-Verify to check the residency status of employees and prospective employees. According to his office, 17 state agencies already use it. This announcement is something of a change of heart.

Photo by Jorge Corona

The specifics of how undocumented people will register under the immigration overhaul announced by President Obama last week that would bring nearly 5 million immigrants "out of the shadows" are still unclear.  But some groups in Austin are already reaching out to people who may benefit.  

Bill Beardall is with the Equal Justice Center, one of the groups organizing a series of educational forums for immigrants that start this week.   He says after this kind of policy change, immigrants are often initially reluctant to register.