Seen from the Mexican side of the border, the tent encampment is currently holding 200 migrant boys. (Carlos Morales / KRTS)

Amid Family Separations, Texas Lawmaker Calls On Abbott To Stop Guard Deployment To Border

A Democratic state lawmaker is calling on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to cancel the deployment of National Guard troops to the border and halt “certain border security practices” in light of the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from parents who it says are crossing the border illegally.


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State Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, along with his wife Lleana, leaves the federal courthouse in San Antonio after being convicted on 11 charges on Thursday morning, Feb 22, 2018. (Photo by Robin Jerstad for The Texas Tribune)

Texas state Sen. Carlos Uresti resigns after felony convictions

Four months after he was convicted of 11 felonies, Texas state Sen. Carlos Uresti announced Monday that he will resign from the Texas Legislature, where he’s served for more than two decades.


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Some 2,000 protestors marched in the small, desert town of Tornillo Texas to rally against the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy. (Carlos Morales / KRTS)

More than 2,000 March In Tornillo to Protest Family Separation at the Border

A crowd of more than 2,000 gathered at a border crossing in Tornillo, Texas early Father’s Day to protest the separation of children and parents who enter into the U.S. illegally.

The rural town of 1,500 has become well-known over the last several days as home to the first temporary shelter or “tent city” along the southwest border that will house a surging number of unaccompanied migrant children in the wake of the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy.


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Seen from the Mexican side of the border, the temporary shelter in Tornillo is currently holding migrant boys. (Carlos Morales/KRTS

State Representative Expects Nearly 300 Migrant Children at Tornillo Shelter by End of Friday

On June 14, the Department of Health and Human Services confirmed that Tornillo – a town 20 miles southeast of El Paso – would become a shelter for migrant children. We spoke with State representative Mary González about the temporary shelter in her district.


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Shelters that house immigrant children along the U.S.-Mexico border are reaching capacity in the wake of the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy. (Photo: Department of Health and Human Services)

Tornillo Port of Entry Will Become Temporary Shelter for Immigrant Minors

The Department of Health and Human Services confirmed today that the port of entry in Tornillo, Texas — just outside of El Paso — will now be the site of a temporary shelter for migrant minors. The news comes as the country’s existing shelter space nears capacity.


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A pump jack at sunrise in the Permian Basin (Tom Michael / KRTS)

REPORT: Permian Production Could Double by 2023

The booming Permian Basin, which is already on target to hit record-setting output this year, could double crude oil production in the next 5 years, according to a new IHS Markit report.


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The Scenic Loop Complex Fires are now 100% contained. Crews will remain on the ground until any remaining hotspots are extinguished. (Photo Courtesy of Texas A&M Forest Service)

Scenic Loop Complex Fires 100% Contained

As of Tuesday morning, officials say the Scenic Loop Complex Fires that have been burning in the Davis Mountains since early June are 100% contained.

On day 9, fire officials have mapped the combined footprint of the fires at 19,444 acres, nearly a 7,000 acre decrease from the last official estimate Monday morning. They say an infrared mapping operation Monday night provided a more accurate picture of the scope of the fire.

Much of the burned up acreage is within the boundaries of the Davis Mountains Preserve. According to The Nature Conservancy, the fire caused minimal loss to the lands affected.


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Many of the recommendations Gov. Greg Abbott made after meetings on school safety included "hardening" schools. (Photo Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT)

‘Hardening’ Schools Won’t Keep Kids Safe, Police Officials Tell Senators

A group of law enforcement officers told Texas senators Monday that they don’t think the governor’s plan to “harden” schools is the best way to keep students safe.


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The number of personnel fighting the Scenic Loop Complex Fires is expected to decrease as the fire comes under better control this week. (Photo by Marc Mullis)

Day 8: Minimal Activity on Scenic Loop Complex Fires as Containment Number Rises

As of Monday June 11, the Scenic Loop Complex fires are 80% contained. The total affected area is now estimated at 26,042 acres. Officials say although that acreage number may seem large, the fire has caused minimal loss to the lands affected.

On day 8, four of the seven Scenic Loop Complex fires are fully contained.


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(Photo Courtesy of the City of Weatherford)

Weatherford Firefighter Dies After Fighting Scenic Loop Complex Fires

A firefighter from Weatherford, Texas died Sunday after helping to fight the Scenic Loop Complex fires near the Davis Mountains.


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The Scenic Loop Complex Fires are now 100% contained. Crews will remain on the ground until any remaining hotspots are extinguished. (Photo Courtesy of Texas A&M Forest Service)

Day 7: Crews, Rains Help Contain Scenic Loop Complex Fires

This weekend, rains provided much relief to fire crews working to control the Scenic Loop Complex fires. On Saturday, passing storms did cause two new fires to pop up, but responders were able to put them out quickly.

By day 7, two of the seven Scenic Loop Complex fires had been fully contained.


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The number of personnel fighting the Scenic Loop Complex Fires is expected to decrease as the fire comes under better control this week. (Photo by Marc Mullis)

Day 6: Crews Continue to Fight Scenic Loop Complex Fires in Davis Mountains

By Saturday morning, two Scenic Loop Complex fires were 100 percent contained while other fires had spread across more acres in the Davis Mountains area.

The Scenic Loop Complex fires — which began on June 3 when a lightning storm sparked 18 fires in Jeff Davis County — have blazed for six days straight and affected more than 23,000 acres by Friday night. The Type I Incident Blue Team, a federal response group, has taken command of the fire operations, which has seen multiple fire crews and more than 250 responders from across the country.


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As of Friday, the Scenic Loop Complex has affected 9,700 acres. (Photo Courtesy of the Texas A&M Forest Service)

UPDATE: More than 250 Responders Arrive in Fort Davis to Fight Scenic Loop Complex

More than 250 personnel are in Fort Davis this week to assist with the Scenic Loop Complex.

The name refers to 7 individual fires — sparked by a lightning storm June 3 — that are burning near then northern part of Highway 166.  Fire officials say the fires are not currently threatening any subdivisions, like the Crow’s Nest or the Davis Mountains Resort.


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Three Guatemalan women, who were tried in a federal courthouse in Alpine this week, have been separated from their children. (KRTS)

In West Texas, Three Immigrant Mothers Who Crossed Illegally Wait to Be Reunited With Their Children

Last month, U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions doubled-down on the Trump administration’s efforts to prosecute all cases of illegal entry into the U.S. These criminal prosecutions are now the reason why hundreds of kids and parents are being separated at the southwest border. As these parents await federal court in criminal detention facilities, their children are placed in shelters across the country.

In one case in West Texas, three Guatemalan women are facing potential deportation and they aren’t sure if or when they’ll be reunited with their kids.


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An aerial view of the Bridge of the Americas POE El Paso Texas. (Photo by James Tourtellotte/U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

At the Border, Some Agents Are Telling Asylum-Seekers to Come Back ‘Later’

The law is clear – anyone seeking asylum must be allowed to make that claim – but many of those who are crossing don’t know that.


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After nearly 3 hours, three Guatemalan women were found guilty of illegal entry. (Photo: Google Maps)

Guatemalan Women Separated From Children Tried in Alpine Federal Court

On Wednesday evening, 3 Guatemalan women, who were picked up by Border Patrol agents near the Presidio/Ojinaga Port of Entry on May 14 were tried in a federal courthouse in Alpine.  A judge found all 3 women guilty of illegal entry to the United States.

This kind of trial isn’t necessarily anything new.

But these women are part of a recent wave of undocumented immigrants who have become targets of the Trump administration’s zero tolerance order. They were caught crossing with their children. Officials separated them at the border, and they’ve had no contact since.


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New Mexico State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn walks along Ranch Rd 652 at the Texas-New Mexico border on May 23, 2018, next to a water line that runs from Loving County, Texas to Lea County, New Mexico. (Photo by Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune)

New Mexico official says Texas landowners are “stealing” millions of gallons of water and selling it back for fracking

Water restrictions in New Mexico have created a supply crunch for the fracking industry, so more free-flowing Texas water is helping to fill the void. But not without controversy: A top New Mexico politician says Texans are pumping his state’s water and piping it across the state line for oil drillers.


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By Wednesday there were 120 responders on the ground in Fort Davis. (Photo courtesy of the Texas A&M Forest Service)

UPDATE: Scenic Loop Complex Affects 8,100 Acres Near Davis Mountains

A federal response crew is expected to arrive Thursday in Fort Davis to assist with multiple fires near the Davis Mountains.

The Scenic Loop Complex  — the name for a group of 6 individual fires —  is burning near the northern part of Highway 166 and, as of Wednesday, has affected 8,134 acres in the area.


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On Sunday, a lightning storm sparked 18 fires in the Davis Mountains. By Tuesday, six of those fires continued to burn in the area. (Photo courtesy of Fort Davis Fire Department)

Multiple Fires Continue to Burn Through Davis Mountains Area

This week, fire crews in West Texas are continuing to respond multiple fires in Jeff Davis County.

The Scenic Loop Complex Fire — a group of 6 individual fires —  is burning near the northern part of Highway 166 and has affected a total of roughly 7,500 acres in the area.


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The U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on June 7, 2017. (Photo by Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune)

U.S. Supreme Court calls legal challenge in undocumented teenager’s abortion case “moot”

Justices made the decision months after the teenager, who was in federal custody in Brownsville, terminated her pregnancy. Federal officials argued they didn’t have time to appeal a lower court’s ruling that cleared the way for the procedure.


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Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador at a campaign rally in Mexico City. Lopez says that if he wins the Mexican presidency on July 1, he will review contracts awarded to foreign energy companies. That statement is triggering uncertainty about the future of foreign participation in Mexico's oil, gas & electricity markets. (photo: Lorne Matalon)

Mexico’s Presidential Election: The Implications For Texas’ Energy Industry

Mexico’s presidential election is coming up in July and the outcome could have serious implications for Texas energy companies.


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Dr. Shailesh Bobby Jain Hopes to Increase the Number of West Texas Child Psychiatrists Through a New Fellowship Program

Dr. Shailesh Bobby Jain is head of a new fellowship program that intends to increase mental health resources for children and families in West Texas.

The program is an expansion of Texas Tech University Health Services Center’s existing child psychiatry  program in the Permian Basin, made possible due to partnership with Midland Development Corporation.

The funding from Midland Development Corporation allows the program to see patients from all walks of life, including those who rely on Medicaid and Medicare. The program also offers a sliding scale fee.

Dr. Jain explains that as more young families move into the Permian Basin, it’s important to increase available psychiatry resources, especially for children. Currently, many end up traveling to other cities like El Paso or Dallas to receive psychiatric care.

“At present, there is a very acute shortage of competent child psychiatrists in the West Texas area right now. We may have three or four, including myself, board-certified psychiatrists in West Texas,” he says.

The program requires an additional two years of specialized training to become a child psychiatrist.

Dr. Jain hopes the fellowship program will begin in July or August, once another psychiatrist is recruited. “This is a very timely investment, I would say, in the future of the West Texas area in terms of psychiatric care and psychiatric well-being of the community,” he says.

Although the fellowship program has not yet begun, adults and children can seek psychiatric care through the existing program at Texas Tech Physicians of the Permian Basin. 

 

GABRIEL C. PÉREZ / KUT

Why Don’t We Regulate Semiautomatic Guns The Same Way We Regulate Automatic Ones?

As Texas debates what, if any, steps should be taken to prevent mass shootings in the state, we asked our audience what questions they had about guns in schools.

A common question was whether why regulations on automatic weapons differ from those regulating semiautomatic ones:

Why don’t we treat all semi-automatic weapons the same as we treat automatic weaponry?– R. Anthony Steele

 


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Marfa Public Radio Hiring Corporate Support Account Manager

Marfa Public Radio (Photo by Sara Childress)

Position Overview
The Corporate Support Account Manager is ready to take their media sales career to a meaningful place. This team member is a determined, persuasive, skillful media sales professional. And, s/he loves public radio.


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The pool's closure could mean big losses for the state. In 2017 the pool brought in nearly $1 million and saw nearly 153,000 visitors. (Carlos Morales / KRTS)

Closure at Balmorhea State Park Leaves Visitors, Businesses Adrift

Last month, Balmorhea State Park announced it would be closing its pool for an undetermined amount of time.  The reason: park officials say they found a crack in the pool wall and it could be unsafe for swimmers.

For many, the pool’s closure means a West Texas summer tradition has been put on hold.  But in late May, a team of engineers began assessing the damage and are now working on a repair plan.


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The Catholic Charities shelter at Sacred Heart Church in McAllen has provided assistance to hundreds of displaced immigrants who have crossed the Texas-Mexico border. (Photo by Marjorie Kamys Cotera)

Texas immigration case could play large role in family separations

In El Paso, attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union and representatives from the Border Network for Human Rights said a lawsuit that seeks to end family separations at the border could hinge, in part, on the case of a woman detained in 2017.


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Gov. Greg Abbott on May 22, 2018 at the first of three roundtable discussions on school shootings in Texas. (Photo by Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT)

Abbott Prioritizes Increasing Mental Health Services, ‘Hardening’ Schools To Reduce Shootings

Gov. Greg Abbott laid out a plan this morning to increase school safety in Texas after the Santa Fe High School shooting. The plan offered suggestions that focused on “hardening schools” and increasing mental health services through as much as $120 million in federal and state grants for schools.


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Public Domain Photos.net

As Drought Spreads Across Texas, Ranchers Are Forced to Liquidate Their Stock

One Panhandle ranch manager is liquidating 90 percent of his cattle, because there’s not enough grass to support them.


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Author Melissa del Bosque will speak Saturday May 26 at 6:00 PM at the Crowley Theater. (Photo Courtesy of del Bosque)

Melissa del Bosque Discusses her Book “Bloodlines” in Marfa on Saturday

This weekend, award winning investigative journalist Melissa del Bosque will read from her book Bloodlines at the Crowley Theater in Marfa at 6 PM. 

She has written about the U.S.-Mexico border since 1998 for various media outlets, including The Texas Observer, the Guardian, and Time.


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The US 67 Corridor Master Plan public meeting in Marfa. (Carlos Morales for Marfa Public Radio)

Concern and Optimism Surrounds the US 67 Corridor Master Plan

Last week, the Texas Department of Transportation hosted a series of meetings to gather public input about a major West Texas roadway — US 67. To some, it’s a welcome conversation about making this traveled path safer. But for others, the renewed talks are reminiscent of a contentious study years ago.


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GABRIEL C. PÉREZ / KUT

Election Results: 2018 Party Primary Runoffs

It’s Election Day for the Democrat and Republican primary runoff elections in Texas. Voters across West Texas will cast ballots in a handful of local and statewide races, including. Get the latest results here:


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The McDannald Ranch Fire burned up hills inside the Highway 188/166 scenic loop west of Fort Davis. (Photo: Sally Beauvais/KRTS)

After Nearly 2 Weeks, McDannald Ranch Fire Now 100 Percent Contained

As of Monday, May 14, the McDannald Ranch Fire, which has been burning west of Fort Davis since late April, is 100% contained. It burned up 19,043 acres of grassland in the Davis Mountains.

Millions of dollars in resources and personnel were directed towards putting out the fire, which reached into portions of the Davis Mountains Nature Preserve. 


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The Voices from Both Sides festival takes place on the border of Lajitas and Paso fajitas. The event, also known as Fiesta Protesta, calls for the return of an informal port of entry along the isolated stretch. (Carlos Morales / KRTS)

At Lajitas’ Fiesta Protesta, Calls for Border Port to Return

The Trump administration’s tough talk on immigration and campaign promises of a border wall have given new meaning to the annual Voices from Both Sides festival on the Texas-Mexico border.

At the event, residents from both Mexico and the U.S. meet in the middle of the muddy Rio Grande to reunite with family members and recall a time when they could cross the border with ease.


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On a map of Highway 67 drivers write out potential changes, like rest areas and passing lanes. (Carlos Morales / KRTS)

TxDOT Hosts Public Meetings for US 67 Corridor Study

The Texas Department of Transportation is currently in the middle of conducting a two-year study on the Highway 67 Corridor. As tourism and travel along the highway increases, the study aims to identify short, medium, and long term projects for the corridor. 


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In May, Balmorhea State Park began limiting visitors to 1,300 people a day. (Diana Nguyen)

Balmorhea State Park Pool Closes After Structural Damage Found

If you’re in West Texas and planning on making a trip to the largest spring-fed swimming pool in the world, you’ll have to wait.

That’s because Balmorhea State Park pool has been closed  due to “structural failure.”


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Environmentalists say the growing sand mining business in the Permian Basin is threatening the dunes sagebrush lizard's habitat. (Photo by Steve Jurvetson)

Environmental groups ask feds to protect threatened West Texas lizard

Two environmental groups asked the federal government on Tuesday to list the dunes sagebrush lizard as threatened or endangered.


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May 25 West Texas News Round Up

Like the region itself, the news of West Texas is sweeping in its scope. So to help us break it all down, we have news editors from across the region joining us. In this roundtable, we hear from Laura Dennis with the Odessa American and Robert Halpern at the Big Bend Sentinel-Marfa.

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Yturria and The Last Big Wild West Show in America

Several months ago, Lonn wrote a column about Tejano cowboys who had become vaqueros in the Wild West shows that toured America and Europe in the early-twentieth century, but it looks like he forgot to mention one well-known South Texas performer.

On this edition of the Rambling Boy, Lonn explores the life and times of Frank Yturria.

The Rambling Boy is broadcast Mondays after the 10 am newscast and again after the 7 pm newscast.
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Here Are 22 Ideas Gov. Abbott Shared For Stopping School Shootings

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is hosting three roundtable discussions this week in response to the school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas. The first roundtable, held Tuesday, focused on “school and community safety.”

The meeting was private, but afterward Abbott read reporters “a list of suggestions and ideas that came out of” the discussions.

He said these ideas will help Texas lawmakers come up with new policy to stop gun violence.

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Tequila Interchange Project Says Future of Agave Spirits Must Be “Bat-Friendly”

It’s been a staple for as long as people have lived within its range. From Texas to the Mexican interior, agave has been food, fiber and drink, and its distilled spirits – tequila, mezcal – have been called “the spirit … Continue reading

Nature Notes is broadcast Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8:35 am and 4:45 pm.
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Thu. May 24 Interview: Lannan Resident Elmaz Abinader on Writing the Personal into the Political, and Growing Up Arab American

On this episode, Sally Beauvais speaks with writer Elmaz Abinader about her family’s dislocation from Lebanon to the United States, and how that has informed her work.

Abinader is an award-winning author of two volumes of poetry, This House, My Bones and In the Country of My Dreams, and a memoir, The Children of the Roojme: A Family’s Journey from Lebanon. She’s also written plays that uncover personal narratives of Arabs living through political trauma.

She teaches at Mills College in Oakland, CA and is co-founder of the Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation, which holds annual workshops for writers of color.

Abinader will read at the Crowley Theater on Sunday, May 27 at 6 pm.

 

West Texas Talk is broadcast each Thursday at 6:00 PM and each Friday at 9:00 PM.
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