immigration

Divergent plans are now emerging from the House and Senate on how best to deal with the influx of unaccompanied children from Central America across the border.

Though both would offer the president less money than he asked for to deal with the crisis, a major battle has developed over whether to amend a 2008 law that makes it harder to speedily deport the children.

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Gov. Rick Perry is sending National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border. He says the troops are needed, as the Border Patrol has been focusing on migrant children crossing the border illegally, and not criminal activity from drug and human traffickers.

Gov. Perry’s announcement comes a month after he directed the Legislature to spend millions of dollars increasing the number of Department of Public Safety officers near the border – a move Perry says it's working.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is ordering National Guard troops to the border with Mexico.

Gov. Perry says the U.S. Border Patrol is overwhelmed with the humanitarian needs of the tens of thousands of children coming in from Central America, and unable to devote enough of its resources to border security.

Perry is also calling on the federal government to pay for another 1,000 guard troops at the border until more Border Patrol officers can be brought in. The announcement follows last month’s deployment of Texas DPS resources to the Rio Grande.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

Gov. Rick Perry will announce Monday that he is activating up to 1,000 National Guard troops to help beef up security along the Texas-Mexico border, two people with knowledge of the decision have confirmed.

Perry’s office announced Sunday that he would hold a news conference at 2 p.m. to “make an announcement regarding border security.” Perry will be joined at the briefing by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Texas Adjutant General John Nichols and Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, according to one of the people familiar with the plans. The Texas Tribune will livestream the announcement. 

Bob Daemmrich / Alyssa Banata/Texas Tribune

As the recent surge of Central Americans entering the country illegally through Texas’ border with Mexico has drawn national attention, it has also become a major talking point for the 2014 candidates for lieutenant governor.

And while state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, and state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, have distinct differences on immigration and border security, political observers say they each have advantages as the issue remains at the forefront.

Van de Putte has indicated that the state should secure the border by providing local law enforcement with ample resources to ensure "that troopers can focus on catching criminals, not kids” while calling for immigration reform at the federal level to get to the root of illegal immigration.

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There’s a new hit song in Central America. It’s called “La Bestia” and people in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador are requesting it from their radio stations.

But guess what? The U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioned it.

“La Bestia” refers to a dangerous train called “The Beast” where thousands of immigrants ride to cross the U.S. – risking assaults, robbery, murder, kidnapping and rape. The catchy, upbeat cumbia song is part of Border Patrol’s multi-million dollar Dangers Awareness Campaign, meant to deter immigrants from entering the U.S.

Baylor University

With thousands of children being detained by the Border Patrol along the Texas border, most of the spotlight seems to be focused on government policy and economic response. The Obama administration believes the ongoing immigration crisis is one that will likely to continue, with estimates of up to 90,000 unaccompanied youth being detained by the end of this fiscal year, three times the amount of last year.

While thousands of undocumented migrants successfully make it across the border, many do not. This has led to an overwhelming amount of deceased, many whom are children, that local authorities are unable to properly identify or even bury. The Texas Standard’s David Brown speaks forensic anthropologist Dr. Lori Baker, who has been working along in South Texas in an attempt to locate and identify the scores of remains along the border.

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Because of a 2008 law, thousands of children crossing into Texas illegally are not turned back right away. That’s because they must get an immigration hearing first – due to a federal law that passed with bipartisan support.

The legislation in wound through Congress in late 2007. A year later, President George W. Bush signed it into law. So why is it coming up now?

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Last month, the Austin City Council signed a resolution to opt out of Secure Communities, a partnership between Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and law enforcement to detain, fingerprint and cross-reference the immigration status of people picked up for suspicion of certain crimes, with the goal of deporting "criminal aliens."

At the time of the council vote, many might have assumed most of the people detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement are Hispanic, especially in Texas. But, former Municipal Judge Ramey Ko says the county may also be detaining a large number of Asian Americans. 

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT and Ben Philpott/KUT

Update: Gov. Perry will meet with President Obama, according to KUT's reporting partner the Texas Tribune. 

“Gov. Perry is pleased that President Obama has accepted his invitation to discuss the humanitarian and national security crises along our southern border, and he looks forward to meeting with the president tomorrow,” Perry spokesman Travis Considine told the Tribune in an email.

Original Post: President Barack Obama has offered to meet Gov. Rick Perry on Wednesday to discuss the ongoing influx and detainment of unaccompanied Central American child immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. 

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Militia groups are planning their own response to the recent flood of Central American immigrants across the Texas-Mexico border, according to a San Antonio Express-News report. The initiative called Operation Secure Our Border says it is recruiting armed volunteers to bolster law enforcement and border patrols near Laredo as soon as next week, but that they will not directly engage any so-called "illegals."

The Obama administration says it will try to speed up deportations of tens of thousands of children who have illegally entered the U.S. from Central America in recent months. It's part of a stronger message the administration is hoping gets back to would-be migrants contemplating coming to the U.S.

But the message isn't getting through, and even those who have recently been deported say they will try again.

President Obama said over the weekend that he is seeking to fast-track deportations of unaccompanied immigrant children from Central America who cross into the United States.

More than 52,000 have been caught in South Texas since October, and hundreds more arrive daily, overwhelming Border Patrol stations and overflowing temporary shelters.

But once they get here, what happens? Do they just get to stay, as the president's critics charge?

President Obama's tough predicament on immigration is only getting worse.

He certainly didn't want to be dealing with an influx of unaccompanied minors illegally entering the U.S. across the Southern border, overwhelming the Homeland Security Department's ability to deal with them during a critical midterm election year.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Texas Democrats support immigration reform – so it came as no surprise that the issue arose on at the party's convention of Saturday. But at the start of the day, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins made an unexpected announcement regarding the surge of unaccompanied minors in Texas from Central America:  the county is locating facilities to take in roughly 2,000 unaccompanied minors. 

"We had a lot of the elected officials here, all of whom stand for the proposition that it is the right thing to do to be compassionate to children," Jenkins said, when asked why he made the announcement at the convention. "If [the state] would open up facilities to the federal government and work with them instead of working against them, then we could move these children from cages on the border to compassionate care." The move is expected to take place by late July;  the average stay of children will be about 21 days. After that, the children would be taken to relatives' homes.

ChinLin Pan/KUT

People across the nation – especially here in Texas – have been riveted this past month by the crisis unfolding at the border as thousands of children arrive on their own. So desperate to flee their home countries in Latin America, children set off on a perilous journey, unsure of how they’ll be received once they get here.

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Now that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has lost his primary to a Tea Party opponent, immigration legislation may be a tougher prospect.

But in Texas, a number of Republicans say they’ll keep urging Washington to change immigration law.

"Dollars don't vote — you do." And with that statement to his supporters, college professor Dave Brat ousted seven-term Rep. Eric Cantor in their primary battle Tuesday night. The loss by the No. 2 House Republican shocked many political analysts and the congressman himself.

"It's disappointing, sure," Cantor told supporters after the results came in. "But I believe in this country. I believe there's opportunity around the next corner for all of us."

KUT

Undocumented immigrants live in deplorable conditions at private prisons in Texas, according to a report out today by the American Civil Liberties Union. 

The report is based on years of interviews the ACLU and ACLU of Texas have conducted with immigrants detained at so-called Criminal Alien Requirement prisons. Inmates said conditions include overflowing bathrooms and infestations of vermin.

Rebecca Robertson, Legal & Policy director of the ACLU of Texas, says these companies are in business to make money – and federal Bureau of Prisons contracts are lucrative.

Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

FORT WORTH — After several hours of debate Saturday, the final day of the biennial state GOP convention, Republican delegates voted to remove the "Texas Solution" from the party’s official platform, reverting to a more hardline stance on immigration.

About 8,000 delegates gathered to consider the party platform and eventually rejected a proposed immigration plank that included language calling for a provisional visa program for immigrants. In its place, they adopted a plank that echoes the party’s 2010 platform. It does not call for a guest-worker program and instead calls for ending in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants and prohibiting sanctuary cities — municipalities that do not enforce immigration laws.

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