Immigration

Capital Tonight: Lawmakers Examine Border Issues Beyond Recent Surge

While the state continues to ramp up its response to the wave of immigrant children, a group of lawmakers visited the Texas-Mexico border for a field hearing on human trafficking. It was a pre-scheduled interim committee meeting, but the recent influx of unaccompanied minors took center stage.

In Thursday’s Capital Tonight, we got an update from the Rio Grande Valley on how lawmakers are coping with both issues and how some say they’re related. Plus, we spoke to Julie Flanders of the group Justice For Our Neighbors about some of the legal hurdles immigrant children face even while they await their immigration hearings.

CAPITAL COMMENTATORS

When it comes to Congress’s response to the border crisis, the partisan fighting hasn’t come as a surprise. But will doing nothing come back to haunt them in November? We sat down with Republican strategist Ted Delisi and Texas Democratic Party Executive Director Will Hailer to get their take.

 

FOSTER CARE QUESTIONS

The foster care system in Texas was back under the microscope Thursday, as lawmakers considered ways to reform how the Department of Family and Protective Services handles contractors who screen potential foster parents. We heard more about the issue from former caseworkers and foster kids who’ve seen the system up close.

And while we know UT Austin President Bill Powers will be stepping down in June, 2015, questions remain over the rocky relationship between Powers, the chancellor and some regents. We spoke to a former head of the UT Graduate Student Assembly, Michael Redding, to get his perspective.

Capital Tonight: Dual Decisions Bring Health Care Law Back into Question

The fate of the Affordable Care Act is once again in the hands of the courts. A federal appeals court dealt a critical blow to a key component of Obamacare Tuesday. Then, just hours later, another panel ruled to keep the law in tact.

In Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, we explained how the decisions could put subsidies for health insurance at risk and what that could mean for nearly 600,000 Texans counting on them.

CONGRESSIONAL RESPONSE

The surge of immigrant children continues, while Congressional action is delayed another day.
We spoke to Congressman Roger Williams about whether any legislative answer has a chance of passing.

CAPITAL COMMENTATORS

Plus, Gov. Rick Perry has officially called in the cavalry to help DPS officials at the Texas-Mexico border. Is the move a practical solution or political stunt? Political strategists Harold Cook and Ted Delisi weighed in on that question and more.

 

 

Capital Tonight: Dewhurst Explains Details of National Guard Deployment

Gov. Rick Perry is calling for military backup to deal with the border crisis. The governor joined other state leaders Monday in announcing the deployment of 1,000 National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border.

In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we sat down with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst to learn more about what role the troops will play, how the operation will be funded and the legal basis for the deployment.

IMMIGRATION ANSWERS

While state Republicans are praising the move, others are calling it a “militarization” of the border and an unnecessary step. We spoke to Denise Gilman of the UT Law School’s Immigration Clinic, who says legal — not military — resources are needed more.

ON THE AGENDA

Plus, a high-profile activist gets reprimanded by the Texas Ethics Commission. The Quorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg gave us the background on that story and more.

Democrats, Business Leaders Respond to National Guard Deployment to Border

Minutes after Gov. Rick Perry announced the details of a plan to send 1,000 National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border, Texas Democrats and border-area business leaders responded with criticism.

In a press release, the Texas Democratic Party characterized Perry’s decision as political posturing.

“Local law enforcement, elected officials, and faith and community leaders in the Rio Grande Valley have expressed concerned about militarizing the border, the need to create a short-term humanitarian solution, and solving the long-term need for comprehensive immigration reform. Today, Governor Rick Perry ignored those voices. While those in the Valley are working hard to care for thousands of children in need and demanding we fix our broken immigration system, Governor Perry is continuing his routine of photo-op politics to further his Presidential aspirations.”

Sen. Wendy Davis, who is running to replace Perry as governor, said that National Guard troops weren’t necessary. Instead, she said the real need is for additional law enforcement personnel and reiterated her call for a special session to discuss extra funding for local law officials dealing with the surge of immigrants.

“If the federal government won’t act, Texas must and will.  However, we should be deploying additional deputy sheriffs to the border like local law enforcement is calling for rather than Texas National Guard units who aren’t even authorized to make arrests. Therefore, I reiterate my call for Governor Perry to immediately convene for an emergency legislative session to provide the resources to get additional law enforcement personnel on the ground immediately.”

Meanwhile, a group of business leaders in the Rio Grande Valley area is expressing concern about what effect the presence of National Guard troops will have on the local economy. They sent out a press release asking the governor to reconsider.

“Adding a military presence to our communities will only create an inaccurate image that our safe and viable border region in the Rio Grande Valley is dangerous, and that the problem is not presently being managed, which is not the case. This erroneous impression can harm our attempts to recruit new businesses. We respectfully ask the governor to rescind his orders to send the National Guard to the border.”

The group is made up of business leaders of the Rio Grande Valley and the Rio South Texas Economic Council. They pointed out new reports from the White House, which show that the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border has dropped from 355 per day in June to about 150 children apprehended in the first two weeks of July.

Gov. Perry Details Cost, Scope of National Guard Operation at Border

The governor has revealed more details of a plan to send 1,000 National Guard troops to the border, to act as a “force multiplier” for Department of Public Safety officers already there.

Gov. Rick Perry says the move, dubbed “Operation Strong Safety,” will cost approximately $12 million per month. Major General John Nichols of the Texas National Guard says troops will be authorized to detain people if necessary, but that he expects them to play a “deter and defer” role, meaning they will deter criminal activity and defer arrests to DPS officers.

DPS Director Steve McCraw said the focus of the operation is to combat crime driven by drug cartels, including homicide, sexual assault, robbery and extortion.

Attorney General Greg Abbott said his office is consulting with the governor’s office and the National Guard about “legal issues related to the deployment.”

The move is in response to the more than 50,000 immigrant children who have been detained at the Texas-Mexico border since October. Many of them are from Central America and come here unaccompanied by their parents.

 

Capital Tonight: Lawmakers Respond to President’s Plan for Immigrant Kids

Lawmakers in Washington are pushing back against the president’s request for funding to deal with the surge of immigrant children, and suggesting ideas of their own.

In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at the response to the president’s plan for nearly $4 billion in emergency funds, and we outlined a bipartisan proposal from Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Henry Cuellar.

PERRY VS. PAUL

Gov. Rick Perry is still in the national spotlight. This time, he’s trading blows with Rand Paul over foreign policy. Scott Braddock of the Quorum Report weighed in on the fight over Iraq, isolationism and even eyewear.

CANDIDATE CONVERSATION

And the Texas Railroad Commission has tightened up its policy on media access. Has the agency overseeing the state’s oil and gas industry gone too quiet? We spoke with the Libertarian Party candidate for railroad commissioner, Mark Miller, to get his take.

Capital Tonight: Texas Democrats Renew Call for Obama to Visit Border

With rolled up sleeves, the President leaned on the podium and asked the audience to choose hope over cynicism during his only public speech in Austin Thursday. Then, he went on to lambaste House Republicans for nearly half an hour over what he called partisan politics in Congress.

In Thursday’s Capital Tonight, looked at the highlights of the president’s speech, including his handling of two protesters calling for immigration reform.

FOCUS ON THE BORDER

While the president hoped to turn the conversation toward the economy, plenty of elected officials in Texas are happy to keep talking about border issues. We heard what state leaders in town for an education conference had to say. Plus, Congressman Henry Cuellar explained his recent criticism of the president in a one-on-one interview.

REGENTS RESPOND

While most of the focus was on President Obama Thursday, many here in Texas are still tracking the ongoing tension surrounding UT Austin President Bill Powers. UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa accepted Powers’ resignation only yesterday, meaning the head of UT’s Austin campus will be staying on until June 2015. But that doesn’t mean things are completely resolved. We checked in on the fight over UT leadership.

Capital Tonight: While Politicians Debate Border Issues, Volunteers Step In

The buzz surrounding President Barack Obama’s Texas trip is getting louder, amid calls for him to see the situation at the border while he’s in the state. After much back and forth, he and Gov. Rick Perry have worked out plans to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Dallas, along with some of the volunteer groups who have been helping Border Patrol handle the influx of undocumented children.

In Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, we heard how the Salvation Army and other groups are helping, and why they say the influx of immigrants goes beyond politics. Plus, we spoke to Rep. Dan Flynn about the call for UT Austin President Bill Powers to resign

CAPITAL COMMENTATORS

Political strategists Harold Cook and Ted Delisi joined us to talk about Perry, the president and the border crisis, along with how the location of hazardous materials in Texas is playing into the governor’s race.

CANDIDATE CONVERSATION

Republican Ken Paxton had to fight his way to the Republican nomination for attorney general. Now, the Democratic candidate for that office is making sure the general election is even tougher. Sam Houston joined us to talk about his run to be the state’s top lawyer.