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Thursday , December 13 2018
Bordertown Undergroun Show 728
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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Vows to Challenge Lupe Valdez on Border Issues

KINGWOOD — Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday vowed to challenge Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lupe Valdez over her views on border security and immigration, emphasizing an early contrast with the former Dallas County sheriff who has not yet secured her party’s nomination.

Abbott’s comments drew a full-throated response from Valdez, who suggested the Republican incumbent “would rather spend his time sowing division than talking about his failed leadership.”

Abbott offered his most extensive comments on Valdez’s candidacy yet after a Tea Party meeting here Monday night, telling The Texas Tribune that he and she “have been locked in a battle for an aspect of Texas ideology” that goes back to their clash three years ago over her department’s policy on compliance with federal immigration authorities. Like he did in a tweet earlier this month — when he broke his silence on Valdez’s campaign — Abbott treated her as the Democratic nominee Monday, despite the fact she is in a May 22 runoff against Andrew White, the son of late Gov. Mark White.

“It’s clear that she’s not only obviously the frontrunner and had the most votes in the initial go-around, but it’s our analysis that she’ll be the nominee,” Abbott said. “And so every time she comes out and starts talking about ways that are antagonistic to the Texas perspective on making sure that we ban sanctuary cities, secure our border, I’m going to challenge her on it.”

Valdez opposes the state’s ban on “sanctuary cities”  — known as Senate Bill 4, or SB 4 — that Abbott signed into law last year, looking to punish local officials who do not fully cooperate with federal immigration authorities. She has also been critical of his decision to heed the call of President Donald Trump and send hundreds of National Guard troops to the border earlier this month — criticismthat prompted Abbott’s April 4 tweet declaring her his November opponent.

“I think she embodies the Obama approach, which is more open borders, obviously not enforcing the ban on sanctuary cities,” Abbott said Monday. “We went through a big legislative process to make sure that Texas would pass a ban on sanctuary cities. If Lupe is elected, she will eviscerate that ban on sanctuary cities, and all these concerns that so many Texans have will be threatened.”

Valdez fired back in a statement Tuesday morning, saying it’s “back to business as usual with Greg Abbott spewing his fear-based open borders nonsense.”

“I’ve spent 42 years working in law enforcement, working to keep Americans safe, I know what smart security looks like and this isn’t it,” Valdez said. “Demonizing immigrants, and spreading fear and hatred is exactly the wrong approach.”

As for the “sanctuary cities” law, Valdez added, “You can bet this military veteran, former federal agent and four-term Sheriff of Dallas County is going to eviscerate SB 4.”

Read related Tribune coverage:


US Attorney General Sessions Visits Las Cruces, Talks Immigration, Border Wall

LAS CRUCES – Providing 4,000 National Guardsman to assist, ending of “radical” catch and release practices, and reducing the backlog of immigration cases were the resounding messages that Attorney General Jeff Sessions left a group of about 150 county sheriff’s and border patrol agents during the Southwestern Border Sheriff’s Coalition spring conference.

Just outside about 150 protestors from the Border Network for Human Rights, churches and other organizations gathered outside the hotel demanding that Sessions leave the border.

On Facebook, Fernando Garcia, director for the BNHR said that Session’s message and the deployment of the National Guardsmen along the border was a war against families.

The coalition, which comprises of sheriff’s offices from 31 counties in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, is an annual event that provides additional training to law enforcement that are within 25 miles of the international boundary line.

In his to Las Cruces on Wednesday, Sessions congratulated the U.S. Border Patrol, the Department of Homeland Security officers and the county Sheriff’s of the Southwestern Border for keeping America safe.

“The independently elected sheriff has been seen as the people’s protector,” Sessions said. “Keeping law enforcement close and accountable. So the work you do is essential because it is keeping safety in America. I believe it, and the Department of Justice believes it and President Trump believes it. We have your back and you have our thanks.”

Sessions spoke to law enforcement officers just before his speech, without members of the media. After his speech he did not take questions from the audience or the media.

He repeatedly stated that President Donald Trump and his administration stood with them and would support them. On Monday, hundreds of National Guardsmen deployed in the states of Texas, New Mexico an Arizona.

“They can help,” Sessions said. “Certain things they are not going to be able to to do and they will not be doing. But, there are many ways that they can be supportive and helpful.”

According to the U.S. Department of Defense memo, the troops will simply work help in identifying vulnerabilities.

“The troops will not perform law enforcement activities or interact with migrants or other individuals detained by DHS (Department of Homeland Security) without approval from (Defense Secretary James) Mattis,” the Memo states.

Construction for a border wall replacement in Santa Teresa began on Monday, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
In a press release the USCBP said the construction of the wall was awarded on Jan. 22 to Barnard Construction of Boezman, Montana.
The area in which replacement will begin is along the 20-mile section of the existing vehicle barrier. The contract includes drainage improvement along that section.

Construction of the wall is slated to run for 390 days and estimated to cost $73.3 million.

According to the CBP the El Paso sector had 25,193 illegal aliens apprehended and 24,189 pounds of marijuana and 140 pounds of cocaine seized.

Sessions added that while he knew it was not the place of Sheriff or State law enforcement to enforce immigration law, he asked that they consider voluntarily doing so as the Border States face a “crises” according to Sessions.

Additional help by this presidential administration will also be provided as many as 100 immigration judges to the border areas, Sessions said.

“We are actively working with our partners in homeland security to ensure that we can deploy judges electronically and by video teleconference so that they can help us handle a lot more cases efficiently.”
He added that the threshold the administration would like to see is a completion of 700 cases by each judge.

“This is the average by some judges, and some are well below that,” he said. “This is not a radical goal. It’s positive to have consistent and efficiency and productivity in our immigration system.”

Throughout his speech Sessions referred to criminal activities that some undocumented immigrants have been arrested for. He spoke about the need to dismantle the MS-13 gang, and then added that along the border law enforcement agencies may have additional challenges with gangs that are “bigger” than MS-13.

Sessions went on to speak about the opioid epidemic and the number of illegal drugs that cross into the United States through the Mexico border.

“So, we are going to step up our efforts to achieve zero tolerance; zero tolerances on releases and 100 percent prosecution wherever possible,” Sessions said. “And it’s not possible, probably – to do everything we want to do this year, but we are moving in that direction.”

He indicated that an uptick in illegal border crossings within the last month could be because of the “loopholes” within the immigration system, the lack of a wall along the southern border, and probably because things are going well in the Trump economy.

Sessions then referred to Obama’s administration practices of catch and release programs as radical, and then referred to the reason of fear of going back to their country.

“They claimed (illegal aliens) that they couldn’t be sent home because of fear, surprisingly the exploitation and the abuse of a credible fear loophole has been a big problem for us,” Sessions said.

“And if you talk to our Border Patrol and ICE and HIS and U.S. Attorneys then you know that’s true. After the release from custody, a large number of illegal aliens disappear. They abscond – they never show up for the hearing in court. The vast majority that do show up have had their asylum claims denied because their claims were not justified.  Just because you have danger in one town in Mexico or any other country doesn’t mean you can’t go some other place in that same country. If someone feels dangerous that doesn’t mean you get the right to demand citizenship or entry into Canada. Give me a break. That’s never been the way the system was ever intended to work.”

Sessions then briefly spoke about the catch and release of children that enter illegally into the United States and added that it is unknown who they are released to.

“This is not a healthy way for us to operate,” he said. “It encourages people to make the trip that they shouldn’t be making at great expense and risk.”

He added that the flow of farm workers who are willing to get paid less are “pulling down the wages of Americans that need a better chance to advance themselves….It huts particularly the recent immigrants who are trying to get their feet on the ground as well as minorities. They are clearly suffering the most from these policies. They have dreams too. They want to do well too.”

Sessions visit comes just a few days after national media outlet reported President Trump had weighed the option of whether to fire the Attorney General, and replace him with Scott Pruitt, Chief of the Environmental Protection Agency.

But since Sessions recused himself on March 2017, from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation on whether interference with the 2016 presidential election had ties to Trump’s campaign, national media outlet have reported that Trump has been vying to replace Sessions – additionally citing his unhappiness with Session’s handling of the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Removing Sessions from his seat as attorney general, could open up the position to Pruitt, who was recently criticized for his travel costs use of security detail and other questionable use of tax payers money.

But on Friday, Trump stated that talk of replacing sessions with Pruitt was merely fake news.

“Do you believe that the Fake News Media is pushing hard on a story that I am going to replace A.G. Jeff Sessions with EPA Chief Scott Pruitt, who is doing a great job but is totally under siege? Do people really believe this stuff? So much of the media is dishonest and corrupt.”

As of Wednesday Sessions was still the United States Attorney General.

After speaking to law enforcement and Border Patrol officers, at the Southwestern Border Sheriff’s coalition, he was scheduled to return to Washington D.C.

Dona Ana County Sheriff Enrique, “Kiki” Vigil said that while he’s heard that other Sheriff’s along the Texas-Mexico border have had some problems, in New Mexico there is not a crises as Sessions and the Presidential administration has implied.

There are other issues that we need to take care of here first,” Vigil said. He added that with modern technology that can secure the border without National Guardsman. “The wall is going to take a lot of money, that will take a lot of money. You know why not put that toward helping those with mental illness, our schools and fixing our infrastructure. I don’t support the wall.”

When asked if the Dona Ana County Sheriff’s office would voluntarily assist Border Patrol agents in enforcing immigration law, Vigil shook his head.

“Not from my office we are not immigration officers we are here to protect everybody. “

From Presidio, Texas, County Sheriff Daniel Dominguez argues that having a wall will help in many ways as well as additional funds and technology.

“On the border, where we are short handed we could use the extra resources,” Dominguez said. “By doing so we can slow it down – it won’t stop it – but it will slow it down.”

Dominguez said the assistance of the National Guardsmen would also assist his deputies.

“They are tied up most of the time in the office and they can’t be out there in the field,” Dominguez said. “So they can come down here (Presidio) and alleviate the pressure.”

The conference was held at the Ramada Las Cruces Hotel and Conference Center, 201 E. University Avenue.

Author: Alex Hinojosa – El Paso Herald Post

Bishop Seitz Statement on Executive Order Sending National Guard to Southern Border

In the midst of a week in which we Christians continue to celebrate God’s mercy and Christ’s gift of peace to all humanity, I have learned of President Trump’s Executive Order ordering the National Guard to our Southern Border.

It is my understanding that the National Guard is a military force intended for the protection of our nation. They assist in times of natural disasters or respond to an armed threat from a foreign military force.
I am left with many questions to which there appear to be no reasonable answer.

To what threat are the citizen soldiers of our powerful nation responding? Why are we placing a military force on the border when the vast majority of those in our country without documents are here because they have overstayed their visa? Why are we further militarizing a border that we share with a peaceful neighbor at a time when undocumented immigration across our border is at a low ebb? Is our nation reacting to a ragtag group of Hondurans who are fleeing for their lives seeking refuge? They are fleeing from a nation controlled by narco-trafficking gangs flush with cash provided by our nation’s insatiable appetite for illegal drugs.

This group is not invading, they are fleeing! They are not sneaking across an unguarded frontier, they are presenting themselves at border crossings and seeking asylum. They are seeking to enter our country legally following international asylum laws which our country had a major role in writing, to assure that people fleeing persecution and organized violence would be able to find safe refuge. If a just system were in place in which the lives of parents and children were secure, the vast majority of those entering our country from the Northern Triangle countries of Central America, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, would not have departed from community or family.

Has it now become a crime in our country to run for your life? Have we become so fearful and hypocritical that we would expect a country like Lebanon to accept a number 30% the size of their population from Syria, but we ourselves cannot accept a fraction of one percent of those fleeing from the countries with the highest homicide rates in the world? If you were a Honduran whose children were being raped and told that they would have to do the gang’s bidding or die, what would you do?

It is time for Mr. Trump to stop playing on people’s unfounded fears. I live on the border and my city is year after year one of the safest in the country. These troops are being asked to leave their families and their employment to come to our border where they can do battle against the wind. They will find no enemy combatants here, just poor people seeking to live in peace and security. They will find no opposition forces, just people seeking to live in love and harmony with their family members and neighbors and business partners and fellow Christians on both sides of the border.

A President’s use of military force is one of his most sacred trusts. I pray that our President will reconsider this rash and ill-informed action.

Most Rev. Mark J. Seitz, D.D.
Bishop of El Paso

Commission on Migration, Bishop Seitz, Release Statement on National Guard Border Deployment

On Wednesday, the Commission on Migration of the Diocese of El Paso and the Most Rev. Mark J. Seitz, Bishop of El Paso, released the following statement regarding President Trump’s decision to deploy the National Guard to the border.

Today’s decision by the Trump administration to deploy the National Guard to the border is morally irresponsible and dangerously ineffective. It is a hurtful attack on migrants, our welcoming border culture, and our shared values as Americans.

As a border community, we already know the painful moral and human consequences of the militarization of our border. Our undocumented brothers and sisters go through daily existence trapped between checkpoints and failed laws. Our Dreamers continue to live an anxious twilight of uncertainty and stress. The asylum seekers fleeing terror and seeking mercy at our border are imprisoned and separated from their families.

We know that our border has never been more secure. We know that it is irresponsible to deploy armed soldiers in our communities. We know that only by working together to address the dehumanizing poverty and insecurity in our sister countries in Latin America and around the world will we resolve the root causes that drive migration. And we know we must end the hopelessness in our communities that fuels our nation’s addiction to drugs, which deals only death and destruction to the people of our continent.

Jesus Christ, the Sun of Justice, gives us hope that our efforts to build bridges among peoples and cultures is not in vain. On this solemn day when we recall the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., let us remember his words. “If we will make the right choice, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. If we will but make the right choice, we will be able to speed up the day, all over America and all over the world, when ‘justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.’”

Most Rev. Mark J. Seitz, Bishop of El Paso

Ms. Lily Limón and Mr. Dylan Corbett, Co-Chairs


The Commission on Migration supports the Bishop of El Paso in advancing the mission of the Church so that persons who migrate are welcomed, protected, promoted and integrated, both in the life of the Church and in society.

Bishop Seitz Visits Washington Monday to Advocate for Immigration Reform

On Monday, March 5, 2018, the deadline originally set by the Trump administration for Congress to extend protections for Dreamers into law, the Most Rev. Mark J. Seitz, Bishop of the Diocese of El Paso, will advocate for immigration reform in Washington DC.

In visits to federal lawmakers and during a congressional policy briefing together with immigration advocates from El Paso, the Bishop will make the case for the need for a path to citizenship for Dreamers.

Via a news release from the Diocese of El Paso, officials add, “Bishop Seitz will also lift up the human and moral impacts of increased border enforcement, including the detention of asylum seekers and family separation.”

Although federal courts have ordered the government to continue processing DACA renewal applications, hundreds of thousands of DACA-eligible youth who did not or could not apply before the Trump administration terminated the program will soon be in jeopardy.

Speaking on the need for a permanent legislative solution, Bishop Seitz said, “God’s dream is for every child and every family to enjoy safety and security. In my ministry as a bishop on the border, I have seen how the aspirations and hard work of Dreamers have renewed everyone’s faith in the American dream and the hope of a reform that keeps families together and protects the vulnerable who seek refuge at the border.”

The policy briefing, Sealing the Border: The Border Wall, the Militarization of Border Communities and the Criminalization of Asylum Seekers in the Trump Era, is sponsored by the Hope Border Institute (HOPE) and the Center for Migration Studies.  The briefing builds on HOPE’s latest report on the treatment of asylum seekers at the border, Sealing the Border.

Commenting on the upcoming briefing, Dylan Corbett, executive director of HOPE, said, “Bishop Seitz takes the Gospel mandate to be in solidarity with the poor and vulnerable seriously.  We continue to be inspired by his vision that border communities can lead the way in building a more just society and in getting the job done on immigration reform.”

Hurd on the Hill: NAFTA Fuels the Texas Economy

What do you call the facilitation of $2 million of goods and services across our borders every minute? In Texas, we call it NAFTA.

In Texas, more than one million jobs, and fourteen million nationwide, depend on trade with Mexico and Canada.

Many of these Texas jobs are in the 23rd Congressional District. These jobs feed families in El Paso, San Antonio and everywhere in between. They include manufacturing, logistics, agriculture and energy. They fuel our local economies in West Texas, along the Rio Grande and all the way up I-35’s NAFTA superhighway.

Many folks don’t realize the magnitude of the impact that NAFTA has had on our economy. Since it was signed into law in San Antonio 24 years ago, America’s trade with Mexico and Canada has more than tripled. US-Mexico trade alone increased more than 280 percent between 1993 and 2016.

In 2015, Texas-Mexico trade amounted to approximately $94.5 billion, making Mexico Texas’ largest trading partner, surpassing the next four largest combined – Canada, Brazil, China and South Korea. And it’s paid off. With a $1.6 trillion GDP, if Texas was its own country, we’d have the tenth largest economy in the world.

But exports are only one piece of the pie. Imports create jobs too. In the last decade and a half, over 70 percent of imports from Mexico were intermediate goods, meaning, they weren’t finished and ready for market when they came into our country. They still required additional parts, assembly, transportation, and packaging.

Sometimes we think of imports and exports as static numbers, when in fact, goods often go back and forth across the border multiple times as they are produced. Another example of this is that forty percent of U.S. imports from Mexico were originally made in the U.S. – demonstrating further that the U.S., Mexico and Canada are actually building things together.

Lately, NAFTA has gotten a bad rap, because like all other 24-year-old business deals, it needs to be modernized to keep pace with policy changes, evolving industries and emerging technology. For example, in 1994, commercial use of the internet was not taken into account during negotiations. Neither was the ability for the U.S. to export crude oil or the natural gas discoveries in the Eagle Ford, Permian and Delaware Basins in Texas.

These are opportunities for us – and all Americans – to win big with NAFTA 2.0.

NAFTA is the lifeblood of many communities across TX-23 but there are areas where we can strengthen it. This week, I’ll be spending time with business owners and operators in Del Rio, Ciudad Acuña and Eagle Pass before heading up to Montreal for the next round of NAFTA discussions.

I look forward to witnessing how modern-day goods are jointly-produced, transported and eventually available to consumers worldwide. As we enter the next round of renegotiations, I will be there to remind our neighbors to the North and South about the tremendous impact that NAFTA has had on South and West Texas communities, and what we have to lose if negotiations fall flat.


A former undercover CIA officer, entrepreneur and cybersecurity expert, Will Hurd is the U.S. Representative for the 23rd Congressional District of Texas. In Washington, he serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, as Vice Chair of the Maritime and Border Security Subcommittee on the Committee for Homeland Security, and as the Chairman of the Information Technology Subcommittee on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Rep. Hurd: Mexico City Trip Strengthens Bilateral Relationship

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representative Will Hurd joined a bipartisan group of 11 Members of Congress to Mexico City Monday for the U.S.-Mexico Interparliamentary Group (IPG) meeting.

While in Mexico, the group along with 15 Members of Mexico’s Congress, were inaugurated into the 53rd US-Mexico Interparliamentary Group and met with their counterparts to discuss our trade relationship, migration and human safety, national security cooperation and a 21st Century border.

“We have an enormous opportunity to work with our partners in Mexico to enhance the physical and economic security of people on both sides of the border,” said Hurd, who represents more miles of the U.S.-Mexico border than any other Member of Congress. “In a district that is both heavily dependent on cross-border trade and ground zero for energy production, I am especially optimistic about modernizing NAFTA to account for the digital marketplace and promoting North American Energy Security. I look forward to working with my colleagues to make sure Texans benefit from NAFTA renegotiation.”

Dring the meeting, members of the 53rd IPG also approved a Joint Declaration affirming the mutual benefits of shared understanding, respect, and cooperation in the areas of Immigration and Human Safety, Trade and Economic Relations, National Security and a 21st Century Border. Read the full Joint Declaration here.

Hurd was appointed to the IPG in February, which is tasked with fostering dialogue between members of the United States’ and Mexican legislative bodies on issues of bilateral importance. This week’s bipartisan delegation was led by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX).


Video: Texas Legislature Faces a Shift in Border Security Funding Debate

In 2015, state lawmakers approved $800 million for border security efforts. But the election of Donald Trump as president has some thinking there will be a change in spending plans this session.

This kicks off The Texas Tribune’s “State of Mind” video series looking at community concerns coming to the Capitol.

Authors: JUSTIN DEHN AND ALANA ROCHA – The Texas Tribune

Trump’s Rhetoric and State’s Border Surge Colored Immigration Debate in 2016

The president-elect’s tough border talk propelled him to victory, the U.S. Supreme Court dashed President Obama’s deferred action hopes and the Texas border surge drew questions.

Between a presidential candidate making a border wall the centerpiece of his winning campaign and debates over whether local or state officials were doing enough on the complicated issue, illegal immigration was at the forefront of the political landscape in 2016.

Here’s a look at the year’s biggest stories related to immigration and the border, all of which could reverberate during next year’s legislative session in Austin and the upcoming transition of power in Washington, D.C.

1. Border talk helps propel Trump to White House

In 2015, Donald Trump, then a new candidate for president, quickly sparked outrage among border residents and many Democrats after he said Mexico was sending “criminals” and “rapists” to the United States and promised to build a “big, beautiful” wall on the southern border. He also vowed to eliminate NAFTA, a 20-year-old trade deal that has made some Texas cities among the busiest trade hubs in the country.

In 2016, with little change in his rhetoric, Trump survived the Republican primaries and withstood a grueling general election to be elected the next president of the United States.

The real estate mogul’s surprise victory immediately sparked fear in some border communities, as residents wondered whether Trump would make good on his promise to deport millions of undocumented immigrants. Although he scaled back his tough deportation talk concerning DREAMers — immigrants brought to the country illegally by their parents or guardians — in December, uncertainty still lingers.

Trump’s recent decision to tap Gen. John F. Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general and outspoken border security hawk, as his pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security prompted several analysts to conclude Trump’s administration plans to take a hard-line approach to immigration policies.

2. Sanctuary cities debate

The issue of “sanctuary cities” — a term that broadly refers to a local government that doesn’t enforce federal immigration policies — was once again at the forefront of state politics in 2016 after Gov. Greg Abbott continued a fight he started the previous year with Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez. Abbott accused Valdez, a Democrat, of creating a sanctuary city in Dallas after she said in an interview she’d limit cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement when the agency makes requests that deportable immigrants be handed over for possible removal.

Valdez later said her words were taken out of context and that her jail never declined to turn over a person to federal authorities. (A 2016 Texas Tribune analysis revealed most Texas jails cooperate well with ICE). Still, Abbott threatened to cut off state funding to any county sheriff’s department that didn’t cooperate with immigration officials.

The issue was also a major talking point for several GOP candidates who won their primaries and general elections this year. Afterward, several lawmakers filed bills for the upcoming legislative session to ban sanctuary cities. Both Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick have described the legislation as a priority next year.

3. Influx of Central American asylum seekers continues

A recent influx of women and children from Central America crossing the Rio Grande into Texas and seeking asylum slowed some in 2015, only to regain strength this year.

Agents in the Rio Grande Valley sector of the U.S. Border Patrol came across about 52,000 families and about 36,700 unaccompanied minors during the 2016 fiscal year. That’s compared to 27,400 and 23,864, respectively, the year before. The federal government’s 2016 fiscal year began in October 2015 and ran through September 2016.

Overall, the total number of apprehensions on the country’s southwest border increased by more than 77,500 to 408,870 in 2016, compared to 331,333 in the prior year.

Though the Rio Grande Valley was the epicenter of the exodus, the figures show that each sector in Texas saw at least a double-digit percentage increase in 2016. In the Del Rio sector, apprehensions of unaccompanied minors increased by 18 percent and family units by 66 percent. In Big Bend, the increases were 13 and 30 percent, respectively.

The Laredo sector saw a 20 percent increase in apprehensions of minors and family units, while the El Paso sector, which includes New Mexico, saw an increase in minor apprehensions of 134 percent — from 1,662 in 2015 to 3,885 in 2016.

The overwhelming majority of the undocumented immigrants — most of whom say they are fleeing violence and poverty in the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — turned themselves into law enforcement on the border and were then processed by immigration agents.

4. The Texas border surge

When lawmakers approved a record $800 million for border security efforts in 2015, border Democrats balked at what they said was a waste of money. The majority of the people crossing illegally, they argued, were women and children fleeing violence and poverty and not people intent on harming Texans.

In 2016, those cries grew louder when lawmakers accused the state’s Department of Public Safety, which received the lion’s share of the money, of failing to provide data that showed the effort was working. Instead lawmakers from both sides of the aisle said that although DPS was able to make security improvements in Starr and Hidalgo counties, smugglers simply adjusted their routes and entered Texas through adjacent counties.

But Texas DPS Director Col. Steve McCraw said that wasn’t an anomaly and instead assured budget writers that the outcome was what the agency expected. A quick fix was never a possibility, he said, and securing the entire border would take more time.

The agency also told lawmakers that it would seek about $300 million in additional monies to keep the surge going. But with the price of oil and the decline in the natural gas industry, budget writers expressed doubts in October about whether DPS will get everything it asks for during next year’s legislative session.

5. U.S. Supreme Court ends Obama’s deferred action bid

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court finally put an end to an executive order issued by President Obama in 2014 that sought to let as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants in the country live and work without the fear of deportation.

Obama issued his deferred action order in November 2014, but Gov. Greg Abbott, then the state’s attorney general, quickly filed suit to stop the program. Twenty-five states would eventually sign on to the lawsuit. The program was scheduled to take effect in February 2015 but was halted that month by a U.S. district judge in Brownsville, who ruled that it violated the Administrative Procedure Act, which governs how federal regulations are made and how much input the public has.

The White House asked the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to let the program proceed but was denied twice.

In July, the White House asked the Supreme Court if it would reconsider the case when it had a full bench. It is still one short since the February death of Justice Antonin Scalia. But in October the court announced it would not take up the case again, leaving in place the lower court ruling that blocked the program.

Author: JULIÁN AGUILAR – The Texas Tribune

Bordertown Undergroun Show 728