Capital Tonight: Lawmakers Get Details on DPS Border Surge

Three weeks after state leaders approved an additional $1.3 million a week in state funding to boost patrols along the border, lawmakers are hearing from the Department of Public Safety on exactly how the money is being spent.

In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we heard from DPS Director Steve McCraw about how his agency is helping out at the border while federal officials deal with an influx of more than 50,000 immigrants.

CAPITAL COMMENTATORS

Political strategists Harold Cook and Ted Delisi weighed in on how federal and state officials are handling the wave of immigrants and whether immigration reform has a chance of passing next year.

EXPENSE REPORT

Plus, Texas Comptroller Susan Combs joined us to explain a new study looking into how much Texas school districts are spending on construction.

Capital Tonight: Congressman Doggett on Hobby Lobby Ruling, Immigration

In a major blow to part of the president’s signature health care law, Supreme Court justices ruled 5-4 that family-owned corporations with religious objections to contraceptives can refuse to pay for them under the Affordable Care Act.

In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we heard responses from both sides of the debate over religious freedom and women’s health. Plus, Congressman Lloyd Doggett talked about the influx of immigrant children, including the executive action announced by President Barack Obama from the White House.

ON THE AGENDA

The Quorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg is back in Austin after covering his twelfth Texas Democratic Convention. We heard his thoughts on how the party is portraying itself this time around.

NEW JOB DESCRIPTION

The federal guidelines for veterans employment are changing — a move that has some state officials speaking out. Shawn Deabay of the Texas Veterans Commission explained how the new rules could affect his efforts to help veterans here in Texas.

TWCNews-Video

Capital Tonight: Convention-al Proceedings and the Fight for Texas

 

We visited our reporters on-scene in Dallas to see how the Texas State Democratic Convention is going, and checked in on some big names. Democrat Joaquin Castro, U.S. Rep. for San Antonio, District 20 joined us Friday. He answered our questions regarding the viability of their party, the immigration situation in South Texas, and his brother’s expected promotion to Washington. Also, we asked his opinion on some unconventional strategies which Republicans hope will dampen the festivities in Dallas this weekend.

POLITICAL PREDICTIONS

Democrats weren’t the only ones busy this weekend. Attorney General Greg Abbott, Republican candidate for Texas Governor, visited South Texas to view the detention centers housing Central American minors. A sharp increase in numbers of youths crossing the border has spurred action from several Texas political players. We spoke with Abbott to hear his solution to what some are calling a “humanitarian crisis.” Campaigns for November elections hit the ground running after each party’s state convention. In the last straight away, Republican strategist Rob Johnson and Democratic strategist Harold Cook helped us review the race and predict who’s going to pull ahead. The next few months are crucial for all the campaigns, and here at Capital Tonight, we tried to determine their next steps.

REPORTER ROUNDTABLE

Erica Grieder with Texas Monthly and Reeve Hamilton with the Texas Tribune joined us to discuss education and security. University of Texas Regent Wallace Hall has come under investigation for suspicious activity, and as the scandal approaches resolution, we talked about possible outcomes. Then, a story far from resolution, the border security concern prompted blame, but who’s really at fault? We dug into the issue in the Reporter Roundtable.

Capital Tonight: Democrats Set Stage for Convention Weekend

Fresh off their filibuster anniversary, Texas Democrats are headed to Dallas to kick off their statewide convention. In Thursday’s Capital Tonight, we got a preview of the message they’re hoping to send and how they plan to use the GOP’s recently published platform as ammunition.

BORDER POLITICS

The surge in Central American immigrants continues to generate headlines, but it might also be changing the conversation about immigration as a whole. James Henson with the Texas Politics Project joined us to discuss that and more.

RIGHT ON CRIME

And Texas is known as a state that’s tough on crime, but many conservatives are working to make us smarter on crime as well. Marc Levin of the Texas Public Policy Foundation joined us to explain their latest efforts and whether there’s common ground to be found with Democrats.

Capital Tonight: Revisiting the Abortion Law Filibuster and Its Aftermath

Wednesday marked the one-year anniversary of last summer’s filibuster, where Sen. Wendy Davis stood and spoke for nearly 11 hours against a controversial abortion bill. The national attention helped propel her into the current Texas gubernatorial race.

In Wednesday’s Capital Tonight, we revisited that night to discuss the outcome of the anti-abortion legislation and what it means for Texas. Plus, we spoke to Cari Christman of Red State Women, a group formed after the filibuster that believes Republicans have the right answers to women’s health issues.

SULLIVAN SITUATION

All eyes are on Dallas as Texas Democrats prepare to convene for their statewide convention Friday. Harvey Kronberg joined us to talk about how Davis’ filibuster anniversary plays into the platform and what issues are getting women interested. Davis isn’t the only one making waves, though. In the ongoing Texas Ethics Commission hearing of Michael Quinn Sullivan, questions arose over Empower Texans and the role it plays in supporting candidates.

TECH TALK FROM THE SUPREME COURT

In two separate cases Wednesday, the Supreme Court made decisions related to technology. In a tight, 6-3 ruling the Court told Aereo their use of broadcast signals was theft. Aereo is a streaming service that uses antenna to skim broadcast TV signals. In a more decisive ruling, the Court required law enforcement to have a warrant before searching cell phones, citing the vast amount of personal information kept on the modern phone. Geoff Bennett joined us from Washington to give us the details.

Dallas, Cleveland Named 2016 RNC Finalists

Dallas and Cleveland are the two finalists to host the 2016 Republican National Convention. The GOP site selection committee made the announcement, Wednesday. The decision eliminates Denver and Kansas City from the running.

If Dallas wins the bid, the convention would be held at the American Airlines Center, downtown. That is the same arena where the Mavericks and Stars play. Republican leaders are pushing for an early summer convention, which could pose a scheduling conflict with the NBA and NHL finals.

On the plus side, Dallas won’t have any problems with fundraising. Officials say they’ve already secured 45-million dollars toward the 60-million needed.

The site-selection committee is scheduled to make another visit to Cleveland. A final decision is expected on August 8.

 

Davis Calls for Special Session to Address Surge of Immigrants

Sen. Wendy Davis is calling for a special session, extra federal support and a declared state of emergency in response to the influx of Central American immigrants at the Texas-Mexico border.

In a letter to Gov. Rick Perry, Sen. Davis says the decision to add $1.3 million a week in funding for the Department of Public Safety was a “solid step” by state leaders, but that more needs to be done to address what she calls the “growing crisis on the border.” The Democratic candidate for governor is joining several of the state’s Republicans in calling for an immediate special session to “provide local agencies with the resources they need in order to do their job in protecting local communities and provide appropriate care for these individuals and families.” 

She’s also calling for Gov. Perry to declare a state of emergency for the border region, in order to open up more state funds.

Sen. Davis is in McAllen to view the detention centers firsthand and talk to local officials. Her response comes on the same day that her Republican opponent in the race for governor, Attorney General Greg Abbott, is touring a temporary detention center at San Antonio’s Lackland Air Force Base with Sen. Ted Cruz.

Capital Tonight: From Border Security to School Finance Complications

A specially appointed judge is one step closer to deciding whether the man presiding over the state’s school finance suit will continue doing his job. San Antonio Judge David Peeples will decide whether State District Judge John Dietz showed bias in the case, after emails between the judge and the prosecution were uncovered. Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office is demanding he step down, but Judge Dietz’s attorney maintains that he did nothing wrong.

In Friday’s Capital Tonight, we checked in on the latest twist in the long-running court battle over how the state funds public education.

REPORTER ROUNDTABLE

The future of the school finance case, Hillary Clinton’s book-tour crowds, and Gov. Rick Perry’s trip to California were all big topics this week. We sat down with Ross Ramsey from the Texas Tribune and Mike Ward of the Houston Chronicle to discuss those issues and more.

CROSSING THE BORDER

Gov. Perry weighed in on immigration this week, saying more non-Mexicans are crossing over than ever before, and Sen. Leticia Van de Putte insisted Mexico is our number one trading partner. Gardner Selby of PolitiFact Texas and the Austin American-Statesman joined us to evaluate those claims and give the official “Truth-O-Meter” ruling.

Gov. Perry Invites President Obama to Visit Border, Requests More Resources

Gov. Rick Perry is asking for more help from the federal government to combat a flood of illegal immigration along the Texas-Mexico border. In a letter to President Obama, Perry requested 1,000 National Guard troops and permission to use Predator drones to identify human trafficking. He also asked the administration to reassess policies that release undocumented children to their families until they can be processed and possibly deported.

In the current system, these notices effectively amount to a ‘free pass’ into our country with little to no consequences for failure to comply,” Perry said. The governor also invited President Obama to visit Texas and tour the facilities where the children are being held.

The state’s leadership has already pledged to send a surge of Department of Public Safety troopers to combat illegal activity along the border and signed off on an extra $1.3 million a week to fund border security operations.

Earlier Friday, President Obama announced he would create a task force to handle the influx of children crossing the border illegally. Obama called it an “urgent humanitarian situation” and said the administration is opening new detention facilities to house families. The Department of Homeland Security hasn’t said how many families will be kept in the new immigration jails or where they’ll be located.

Gov. Perry said while he is encouraged by the new initiatives, “the steps only address symptoms of the problem.”

According to the White House, an estimated 60,000 minors will enter the United States without their parents this year. Most of them are coming from Central American countries including Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. 

You can read Gov. Perry’s full letter to President Obama, below.

 

Perry Obama Letter