immigration

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.

flickr.com/wallyg

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.

Overcrowding and disease at a temporary immigration detention center in McAllen has the U.S. Border Patrol themselves calling on congress for humanitarian aid. 

Because of the McAllen facility's temporary status, capacity is about 300. But this past week Border Patrol agents brought in 1,000 immigrants and the situation has Chris Cabrera with the local Border Patrol agent's union calling on Congress for help.

Daniel Reese for KUT News

Dozens of jurisdictions across the country have backed away from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deportation program known as Secure Communities.

But Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton is not backing away from the controversial program. And in response, a group of Austin attorneys announced Thursday they plan to start suing the county for its Secure Communities detentions.

As ICE writes, the program "prioritizes the removal of criminal aliens, those who pose a threat to public safety, and repeat immigration violators." But critics charge the program has been overused and resides on shaky legal ground. 

State Senator and GOP Lt. Governor candidate Dan Patrick faced off against San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro in a televised debate over immigration tonight at 6pm.

The debate was moderated by the Texas Tribune's Evan Smith.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Protesters gathered on the UT campus to protest President Obama’s immigration policies during his speech today at the Civil Rights Summit. Some chained themselves to the statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. on campus and many brandished signs deriding the president for strict deportation strategies in light of the event which highlights equal rights. 

“We want them to recognize that the fight for civil rights is not over,” said student organizer Maria Reza. “Enough talk – we need action.”

Jorge Corona for KUT News

Over 100 students, faculty, staff community supporters gathered at the University of Texas campus this afternoon to protest a so-called “Catch an Illegal Immigrant” game that was originally planned for today.

The event, proposed by the UT chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas, called for students to track down and return volunteers wearing shirts reading “illegal immigrant” in exchange for a gift card.

The group called off the event earlier this week in the wake of widespread condemnation. But people gathered on campus today to protest the motivation behind the game.

After successfully staring down congressional Republicans in the shutdown-debt ceiling fight, President Obama pivoted to immigration in a move with almost no downside.

That makes it perfect as the next vehicle for him to use to cause the GOP major indigestion.

Before being re-elected last year, President Obama said he hoped the Republican "fever" of opposition to him would break during his second term. But if the just-completed standoff is any indication, that temperature is still spiking.

Luis Alberto Urrea

Luis Alberto Urrea is one of the most distinguished writers in America.  Just don’t tell him that.  Urrea is refreshingly self-effacing when forced to talk about his status as an award-winning and best-selling author. He is perhaps best known for “The Devil’s Highway,” which won the Lannan Literary Award in 2004. He was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2005.

 

KUT News

It’s been a full week since the opening of the health insurance marketplaces created through the Affordable Care Act. But only certain people qualify to buy insurance through that system.

Immigrants must be “lawfully present” to qualify to buy through the marketplace. That includes Green Card holders, refugees, Cuban or Haitian immigrants, people on worker and student visas and victims of human trafficking. But the 1.5 million undocumented immigrants estimated to live Texas are not included.

Lizzie Chen for KUT News

A way station for immigrants the world over, New York’s Ellis Island is arguably the truest symbol of American identity. But the island is closed today – along with the Statue of Liberty and all other national monuments, memorials, libraries and parks – all as a result of the ongoing government shutdown

Here in Texas, the shutdown’s made an immediate impact on incoming immigrants: it has forced the State Department and the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration to delay the arrival of refugees from Sudan, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Eritrea, Burma, Bhutan, Cuba and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  And approximately 10 percent of these immigrants come to Texas. 

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Every year, the United Nations commemorates the creation of the UN Refugee Agency with World Refugee Day, a day that serves to draw attention to those displaced by conflict and persecution.

KUT News spoke with Desire Nizigiyimana about his experience in the Burundi civil war.

flickr.com Josh Denmark

Today, the U.S. Senate added amendments to its proposed overhaul of immigration policy, doubling the number of border patrol agents from 22,000 to 44,000.

Despite a pattern of illegal border crossings – which, according to a U.S. Border Patrol report, occur more frequently in Texas than in any other state – some Texas advocates say that the added infrastructure and resources won’t make the border safer.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/inkflip/6383917241/

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents are making so many drug busts near the border that local officials are struggling to pay for prosecuting them, the Center for Investigative Reporting found out. We spoke with CIR reporter G.W. Schulz about what they discovered in Hudspeth County, Texas. 

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