As many as half of Texas construction workers could be undocumented immigrants, according to a study released today.

In the study, the Workers Defense Project examined building permits in five big markets across the state, including Austin. They visited random residential and commercial building projects to survey 1,200 construction workers during lunch breaks or after their shifts.

Jacob Villanueva/Texas Tribune

As Congress continues to debate whether to take up comprehensive immigration legislation, some Texas lawmakers hope to get the Legislature to support those efforts.

Reps. Ana Hernandez Luna, D-Houston, and Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, filed a resolution this morning that would “urge Congress to swiftly enact and fund comprehensive immigration reform.”

An event in Austin today aims to bring together Texas leaders in business, law enforcement and faith to talk about immigration.

Liang Shi, KUT News

The 2013 Texas Legislature is running behind last session when it comes to bill filings, according to legislative reporting service Telicon.

The firm reports 476 fewer bills have been filed this legislative session, compared to this time in the 2011 session. The 27 percent drop is partially to blame on 2011 being a big year for ideological legislative filings, said UT government professor Jim Henson.

Ann Choi/KUT News

With immigration reform on the agenda in Washington, U.S. Congressman Joaquin Castro of San Antonio predicted today that some sort of path to citizenship will be created for undocumented workers. 

At the annual Texas Association of Business conference today, Castro said the current immigration system creates a second class of people who can never gain citizenship. However, he believes that society's changed views on immigration ultimately will lead to change in policy.

With President Obama and some legislators from both parties pushing immigration reform, Texas’s Sen. John Cornyn says he does not support a comprehensive overhaul of the country’s immigration laws.

Instead, he advocates stricter enforcement of existing laws.

Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

A day after a bipartisan group of U.S. senators offered a plan to fix the country’s immigration system, President Obama offered up his own — and warned lawmakers to get serious about the issue or deal with him.

“If Congress is unable to move forward in a timely fashion, I will send up a bill based on my proposal and insist that they vote on it right away,” he told a crowd in Las Vegas.

Update at 3:06 p.m. ET. 'Now Is The Time':

Talking to an audience in Las Vegas, an upbeat President Obama said that "now is the time" for "common sense comprehensive immigration reform."

While Obama echoed the pillars of immigration reform presented by a bipartisan group of senators on Monday, he also made an emotional plea for reform.

"What makes somebody American," he said, "is not just blood or birth, but allegiance to our founding principles."

Flickr user Noah Jacquemin,

Yesterday’s bipartisan Senate proposal to overhaul the immigration system has drawn praise and criticism from both sides of the aisle. In Texas, one question remains: is immigration good or bad for business? 

The proposal from eight U.S. Senators calls for increased border security and a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the country.

Saying their proposal would "secure the border, modernize and streamline our current legal immigration system" and create "a tough but fair legalization program for individuals who are currently here," eight senators unveiled a "bipartisan framework for comprehensive immigration reform."

KUT News

The City of Austin has started a new program to welcome foreigners moving to town.

The Welcome to Austin program provides language resources, offers local advice and teaches newcomers how to navigate the city's local schools, law enforcement and public transportation. Here's a look at the agenda.

It's not just any ol' Monday—it's Inauguration Day and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The streak of beautiful weather in Central Texas looks to continue today. The National Weather Service reports we'll get up to a high of 68 with partly sunny skies.

Lead Story: President Barack Obama will be ceremoniously sworn in for his second term this morning. NPR is providing on air coverage on KUT 90.5. Click here for a full list of the day's events.

Locals Head to Washington: The Bailey Middle School Wind Ensemble will represent Texas at the Presidential Inauguration Festival today. Ensemble Director Bill Haehnel is leading the group of sixty-one 12 to 14 year-olds.

KUT News

Contrary to what you may have heard, people in the country illegally can file a return. They use a special IRS-issued number called an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN). But new IRS rules effective this month mean some changes for people using ITINs.

In 2010, the latest available data from the IRS, nearly 18 million people paid their taxes with ITINs.

In 2012’s presidential election, 27 percent of Hispanics in the U.S. voted for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Until that number increases, Republicans will have a hard time winning a Presidential race – so party insiders say it’s time to soften the GOP’s position on immigration.

For Texas Senator John Cornyn, it’s about who’s the best fit to tackle the topic. He says if Republicans are going to seriously tackle immigration policy, Texas lawmakers are uniquely qualified to take the lead.

“I happen to believe that we in Texas understand a little bit more about some of these issues than people from other parts of the country – given our proximity to the border and given the nature of our population,” Cornyn says.

Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted to modernize archaic legal language by striking the term “lunatic” from federal law. The measure passed resoundingly, with only one vote against: conservative East Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert.

Former Austin scribe Jennifer Bendery writes for Huffington Post that while Gohmert’s office didn’t expand upon the representative’s vote, his words in the House chamber provided some context:

"To keep spending and not pay the price, that is immoral," Gohmert said. "That's why we shouldn't eliminate the word 'lunatic.' It really has application around this town. … We want to eliminate the word 'lunatic' from the federal code?" Gohmert asked. "That's lunacy."

Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

DALLAS — During his opening remarks Tuesday at a daylong conference on immigration and the economy, former President George W. Bush urged the nation’s leaders to debate immigration reform with compassion and kindness.

In a brief appearance at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Bush did not advocate for a specific solution. But his statements indicated he supports policies similar to those he championed during his presidency, when immigration reform was last debated in Congress.

One of the big questions that arose out of the November general election is how Republicans would pivot to close the astonishing gap in the Latino vote.

Hispanics voted for President Obama instead of Gov. Mitt Romney by a 71-to-27 percent margin. That kind of lopsided result immeditately changed the minds of many Republicans on immigration reform.

Ed Schipul / Texas Tribune

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, will be named the chairman of the powerful House Committee on Homeland Security later today, Republican sources have confirmed. 

McCaul, who currently chairs the subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations and Management and is also a member of the subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, will replace Congressman Peter King, R-New York, who announced just days ago that he was leaving the post. King has chaired the committee since 2005, the same year the U.S. House granted the committee permanent status. It was created in 2002.

KUT News

Could you create a mathematical formula to increase voter turnout?

The idea may sound far-fetched. But Travis County clerk Dana DeBeauvoir has an idea on what it might look like.

“It has to do with how well each voter is connected to their local community,” DeBeauvoir tells KUT News. “For example: Do you own a house? That’s a point. Do you have children in school? That’s a point. All of those add up.  And it turns out that people that have the most points of connection with their community are the people who vote.”

DeBeauvoir notes those variables are “roughly all about how old you are. It takes a while to get connected.” And those factors may have a lot to do with why young Texans are sitting out elections.

It's been more than a month since the government began accepting requests for its Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the Obama administration's policy for young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Hundreds of thousands of people are eligible for the program. So far, only 82,000 have applied.

Carlos Martinez is one of the 29 people who have actually gotten deferrals. It means that he won't be deported, and that he can get a work permit. Martinez applied for the deferred action program the first day.