Texas

Same-Sex Marriage
1:41 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

AG Files Brief Supporting Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Texas Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott speaks to supporters at Lavazza Espression on Congress Avenue in Austin.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office filed a brief on Monday arguing that Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage is constitutionally sound and a matter for voters, not courts, to decide. 

The brief was filed with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where the state is appealing a state district court judge’s February ruling that the ban is unconstitutional. The case pits two same-sex couples against Gov. Rick Perry, state Health Commissioner David Lakey and Abbott, who is also the Republican nominee for governor.

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Border & Immigration
11:14 am
Mon July 28, 2014

Migrant Children Have State, Federal Foster Care Competing for Parents

On June 24, 2014, volunteers gather at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen, where the Rio Grande Valley Catholic Charities have a makeshift shelter to help handle the surge of immigrants who have crossed into the U.S. in recent weeks.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

The influx of children from Central America arriving at the Texas-Mexico border has many people asking how they can help.

One way people can help is by becoming foster parents – but acting as a foster parent for the federal government is different than being a foster parent for the state.

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Border & Immigration
10:02 am
Mon July 28, 2014

Can National Guard Troops Make Arrests Along the Texas Border?

Texas Adjudant General John Nichols speaks at a press conference on the deployment of the Texas National Guard to the border on July 21, 2014.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Can the National Guard troops being deployed to the border arrest and detain people? Only if Gov. Rick Perry says they can. But experts do have some concerns about giving law enforcement powers to a reserve military force.

From a legal standpoint, the National Guard has no authority to enforce federal immigration law, because the troops will be operating under the governor’s authority. In this case, Gov. Perry has called them up, and not President Barack Obama.

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Border & Immigration
4:40 pm
Fri July 25, 2014

How Can You Measure the Success of National Guard Troops on the Border?

Members of the Texas National Guard
flickr.com/texasmilitaryforces

The eyes of the nation are focused on the Texas-Mexico border, due to the humanitarian crisis involving undocumented and unaccompanied minors. This week, Gov. Rick Perry announced the deployment of 1,000 Texas National Guard Troops to the border.

Politically speaking, Gov. Perry’s message is that the Federal Government is failing in its duties. But in a story set to be published in Sunday’s Austin American-Statesman, investigative reporters Jeremy Schwartz and Eric Dexheimer pose a question: just what constitutes “mission accomplished?” 

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Border & Immigration
3:58 pm
Fri July 25, 2014

How Austin Can Help Unaccompanied Minors at the Border

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Unaccompanied minors and other immigrants continue to arrive at the border, creating a national dialogue on immigration reform.

President Obama is expected to meet with the presidents of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras today to discuss the humanitarian crisis along the border.

Organizations and faith-based groups around the country are doing what they can to assist the minors. Austin is no exception – several organizations and churches are currently accepting donations. Here’s a roundup:

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Texas Foster Care
7:17 am
Fri July 25, 2014

After Child Deaths, Texas Lawmakers Examine Foster Care Practices

State lawmakers have had several committee meetings to discuss possible reform to the state's foster care system. Yesterday's meeting was the third in the past two months.
Credit David Garzon

Texas lawmakers have already convened several times this year to discuss rampant – and persistent -- problems in the state’s foster care system. On Thursday, another hearing at the Capitol took place to look into what can be changed.

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Border & Immigration
4:15 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

Who Are The Kids Of The Migrant Crisis?

Volunteers such as this woman — who's with a group that calls itself "Las Patronas" — throw bags of food and water to migrants in Veracruz, Mexico, who are headed toward the U.S.-Mexico border.
Courtesy of Deborah Bonello

Originally published on Thu July 24, 2014 5:23 pm

Since October, a staggering 57,000 unaccompanied migrant children have been apprehended at the southwestern U.S. border. Sometimes, they've been welcomed into the country by activists; other times they've been turned away by protesters.

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Border & Immigration
6:38 am
Thu July 24, 2014

Amid Wave Of Child Immigrants, Reports Of Abuse By Border Patrol

Thousands of young immigrants, many of them from Central America, have crossed illegally into the United States this year, causing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Thu July 24, 2014 1:21 pm

Some of the immigrant children crossing the border say they are being subjected to abusive and inhumane treatment in U.S. Border Patrol stations in South Texas. This includes frigid holding rooms, sleep deprivation, verbal and psychological abuse, inadequate food and water, denial of medical care, and worse.

Dozens of children have come forward to make complaints against Customs and Border Protection officers. The agency responds that any complaints are the result not of mistreatment, but of its stations being overwhelmed by the surge of minors.

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Texas
8:01 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Fort Hood Memorial Moves Forward But Still Needs Money

An artist's rendering of the pavilion at a memorial remembering the shootings at Fort Hood in 2009.
November 5, 2009 Ft. Hood Memorial

People trying to build a memorial for victims of the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood hope a ground breaking ceremony they held Tuesday will help raise the last amount of cash they need to complete the project. 

It's been almost five years since Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan opened fire at the Army post, killing 13 people and wounding more than 30. Hasan, 43, was sentenced to death last year by a military jury.

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Affordable Care Act
4:26 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Could Medicaid Expansion Boost the Texas Economy?

A new study from Families USA suggests taxi drivers are among the 1.5 million Texans who would get health insurance if Texas expanded Medicaid eligibility.
flickr.com/bionicteaching

If Texas accepted federal funding to expand Medicaid, roughly 1.5 million more people would have health insurance. Now a new study suggests more than half of them are people who work in service industries that help fuel the state’s economy.

The report by Families USA says the people in Texas who’d benefit most from closing the coverage gap are cashiers, drivers, cooks and servers, hotel clerks and construction workers, for example.

Many of them don’t earn enough to qualify for a tax subsidy under the Affordable Care Act, Dee Mahon with Families USA says.

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Border & Immigration
10:44 am
Tue July 22, 2014

Texas Sends National Guard Troops to Border, Despite Opposing Voices

From left: Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw, Gov. Rick Perry, Texas National Guard Maj. Gen. John Nichols and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst spoke at a press conference on border security on July 21, 2014 at the Texas State Capitol.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

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.

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Border & Immigration
1:55 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

Watch: Gov. Perry's Border Announcement

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.

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Border & Immigration
9:32 am
Mon July 21, 2014

Perry Will Activate Up To 1,000 Guard Troops

Gov. Rick Perry and DPS Director Steve McCraw spoke at a June 23, 2014, news conference following a tour of a federal facility housing unaccompanied minors in Weslaco, Texas. The state is providing $1.3 million per week to step up border patrols.
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. 

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Abortion and Women's Health
9:05 am
Fri July 18, 2014

The Texas Abortion Debate Continues a Year After HB 2 Was Signed Into Law

Wendy Davis' HB 2 filibuster, catapulting her into the national limelight and serving as a springboard for her gubernatorial campaign.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT

Last legislative session, House Bill 2 proved to be a landmark moment for the abortion debate in Texas. It further politicized the issue both sides of the aisle, garnered national media attention, boosted political profiles and launched campaigns.

When the debate was over and it finally passed, HB 2 established a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, required clinics to be certified as ambulatory surgical centers, and forced abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. 

Today marks the one-year anniversary of Gov. Rick Perry signing the bill into law.

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Elections 2014
4:59 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Can Democrats Really Keep Up With Republicans in the Fundraising Race?

Texas Democrats may be raising more money from individual donors, but Republican campaigns have proven adept at consistently garnering campaign-sustaining contributions.
Photo by KUT News

Both candidates in the race for governor have raised $11 million since late February. In the race for lieutenant governor, the Democratic candidate beat out the heavily-favored Republican nominee in fundraising over the last campaign finance reporting period. To some that could appear to be a watershed moment in Texas politics for red state Democrats, but The Austin American-Statesman's chief political writer Jonathan Tilove says the moment is a bit misleading, if not one-sided.  

Tilove spoke with The Texas Standard's David Brown about whether the Democrats' historic fundraising efforts will be enough to defeat their Republican opponents in November. 

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Border & Immigration
1:27 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Undocumented Journalist Jose Antonio Vargas Released After Being Detained

Jose Antonio Vargas in handcuffs at McAllen/Miller International Airport.
@ryangrim Twitter

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 6:40 am

UPDATE, July 16, 6:17 a.m.: The Associated Press reports Jose Antonio Vargas has been released by U.S. Border Patrol agents after being detained at McAllen/Miller International Airport Tuesday morning.

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Immigration
8:45 am
Tue July 15, 2014

Death on the Border: Trying to Identify the Youth Who Never Made It

Members of the Reuniting Families Project excavating bodies along the border.
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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Immigration Reform
8:48 am
Fri July 11, 2014

How a Bush-Era Law Against Trafficking Impacts the Immigration Surge

Because of a 2008 law, thousands of children crossing into Texas illegally are not turned back right away.
flickr.com/cbpphotos

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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Obama In Austin
4:38 am
Fri July 11, 2014

In Texas, Obama Sets Stage To Answer 'Do-Nothing' Congress

Speaking about the need for congressional action on immigration, President Obama told a crowd at the Paramount Theatre in Austin, Texas, on Thursday that he would "love it if the Republicans did stuff too."
Jack Plunkett AP

Originally published on Fri July 11, 2014 10:06 am

Six years into his administration, President Obama has apparently not given up on the "hope" that was a major theme of his first run for president.

What else but undying optimism could explain the president's hope for the Texas congressional delegation expressed in his visit to their state this week?

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Texas
10:35 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

Attorney Impersonators 'Sell Hope' & Steal Money From Immigrants Looking for Help

Veronica Avila Zavala was the victim of an attorney impersonator that promised her husband's release, but took $14,000 from her.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT

One of the biggest traps undocumented immigrants fall into is the advice of "faux" attorneys. They pretend to know the ins-and-outs of immigration law and often scam victims of thousands of dollars. 

For Veronica Avila Zavala, it seemed like an easy way out of a bad situation.

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