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.

Mariana Salazar for KUT

President Barack Obama announced broad changes to national immigration policy last night, affecting up to five million undocumented U.S. residents.

Immigrants who have been living in the United States for at least five years, who have children who are U.S. citizens or whose children are legal residents, may stay in the U.S. temporarily without fear of deportation, provided they register with the government, pass a criminal background check and pay their taxes. 

After six years of often bitter back-and-forth with congressional Republicans over the issue of immigration, President Obama announced he has decided to go it alone by temporarily shielding up to 5 million immigrants from being deported.

Ben Philpott/KUT

Republicans in Washington and Texas are set to fight President Obama on his expected executive order on immigration. But how will the order affect life in the Lone Star State?

The biggest change would obviously be for the people who qualify for work permits the president is expected to announce tonight. Co-Director of the UT Law School Immigration Clinic Barbara Hines says not only will those people no longer live in fear of deportation, it should also improve their financial situation.

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Immigration advocates say whistleblowers are reporting sexual assault by guards at a privately run immigrant detention center in South Texas. The Karnes County Residential Center is run by GEO Group.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund and attorneys at the University of Texas School of Law have filed a complaint with the federal government. It comes on the heels of a separate complaint last week alleging detainees have inadequate access to food, telephones and appropriate conditions to care for their children. 

In the latest complaint, MALDEF and the attorneys allege GEO guards are having sex with detainees, groping them in front of children, and calling the women detainees their "girlfriends." 

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

In a speech in Washington, D.C., on Friday, outgoing Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst doubled down on claims that Muslim prayer rugs had been found on the Texas-Mexico border.

"Prayer rugs have recently been found on the Texas side of the border in the brush," Dewhurst said at the Values Voter Summit, according to a report on Friday by Talking Points Memo, a liberal news site.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Texas lawmakers got an update yesterday on children who’ve crossed the southern border illegally over the last several months.

Officials expressed concern about the unaccompanied children's health and welfare at a hearing of a Texas House Child Protection Committee hearing.

The number of unaccompanied children crossing the border has been dropping over the summer. About 54,000 have crossed the border, and 4,000 of them have settled in Texas, so far.

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Security at the Texas-Mexico border has grown exponentially after an influx of undocumented, and often unaccompanied, migrant children in recent months. In response to the surge, Texas Governor Rick Perry has deployed up to one thousand National Guard troops. In addition, there's been a surge in federal Border Patrol agents and Department of Public Safety troopers.

Suffice to say, there are a lot of boots on the ground along the Rio Grande. But what exactly is the role and responsibility of every local, state and federal agency in securing the border?

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Almost four weeks after Gov. Rick Perry said he was deploying the National Guard to the border, the first wave of soldiers has started setting up at observation posts. Several guardsmen were seen Thursday afternoon manning an observation tower along the busy road leading to the Hidalgo International Bridge, which connects McAllen and Reynosa, in the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico near Matamoros.

Perry announced in July he would send up to 1,000 members of the National Guard to the Texas-Mexico border, on top of extra state troopers he already ordered there from the Texas Department of Public Safety. Perry says the National Guard will serve as extra eyes, reporting suspicious activity to authorities.