Border wall in Mission, TX on Feb. 6, 2019. (Verónica G. Cárdenas / Texas Public Radio)

Texas Public Radio’s Live Call-In Program: The Reality At The Border

On Monday, February 18 at 7 pm,  Marfa Public Radio will broadcast a special episode of Texas Public Radio’s “The Source” with David Martin Davies.

The entire nation is talking about what’s happening at the U.S.-Mexico border. Now, it’s time for the border to speak for itself.

Public radio stations along the Rio Grande from Brownsville to El Paso are teaming up for a historic borderwide conversation during this special live broadcast.

The wall, national security, troop deployments, razor wire and political uncertainty – how is it all impacting life at the border?

“The Source” is a live call-in program on Texas Public Radio. Leave a message before the program at 210-615-8982. During the live show, call 210-614-8980 (San Antonio area) or 1-800-622-8977 (statewide). You can also email or tweet at @TPRSource to join the conversation.


  • Alfredo Corchado, border-Mexico correspondent for the Dallas Morning News
  • Melissa del Bosque, reporter covering immigration and the border for ProPublica
  • Reynaldo Leaños Jr., immigration and U.S.-Mexico border reporter for Texas Public Radio
  • Dany Bahar, fellow in the Global Economy and Development program at the Brookings Institution

Adrian Vega takes on the role of El Super Lector and sings to Blackshear Elementary Magnet students. (Mitch Borden/ Marfa Public Radio)

To Keep An Odessa School From Closing, Ector County ISD Focuses On Improving Student Literacy

By Mitch Borden

In Odessa, Blackshear Elementary Magnet is on its last leg. For years the state has said the struggling school needs to improve, and in 2018 the Texas Education Agency even gave the Permian Basin campus a failing grade for its performance. The Ector County Independent School district as a whole was given a D grade from the state.

If Blackshear continues to underperform it could be closed, but amid an uncertain future for this campus, Ector County ISD is taking a calculated risk. They’re making changes officials state will streamline efforts to support teachers and get students where they need to be academically. To do this the district is starting by focusing on student literacy.

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Marfa's 2014 Love Dumpsters. (Tom Michael / Marfa Public Radio)

Love On The Range: Dispatches From Valentine’s Day 2019

Thank you to all who submitted Valentine’s Day notes, poems, odes, and and loving gripes to Marfa Public Radio’s 2019 Love Drive.

Press play to hear recorded valentines from Jose Fonseca, Lonn Taylor, Mary Jane Holmes, Brad Newton, Pam Gaddis, Ruben from Houston, Steven Rodriguez, Russell Murray, Joseph Wilcox, Belle Penny Lancaster, Chris Gonzales, Wild Bill Walker, and John Anderson.

Written messages are below.
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A sign remembers those lost at Santa Fe High School at the nearby Santa Fe Junior High School outside Houston. (Laura Isensee / Houston Public Media)

Multiple-Victim School Shootings Are Rare. But They Are Becoming More Common And More Deadly

By Anthony Cave, KERA

Sandy Hook. Parkland. Santa Fe.

If it seems like school shootings are becoming more common, there is some data to support that.

School homicides that involve multiple victims have become more frequent over the last decade, according to a new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ninety-two percent of these incidents involved a gun. Despite the uptick, they are still extremely rare events and account for less than 2 percent of all youth homicides in the U.S.

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Dr. Ray Perryman address the audience at the Priority Midland kickoff. (Mitch Borden / Marfa Public Radio)

New Organization Gearing Up To Take On Challenges Facing Midland

By Mitch Borden

As the Permian Basin continues to produce millions of barrels of crude oil each day, Midland and other communities in the area are rapidly growing.

There are challenges that come with this kind of economic success though. To address this, the City of Midland along with other public and private organizations are joining together to create a group to address some of the region’s biggest problems.

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Attorney General Ken Paxton's office has made conflicting statements about whether it has opened a criminal investigation into voters flagged for a citizenship review. (Bill Clark / Pool)

AG’s Office Told Lawmakers It Isn’t Investigating Flagged Voters. It Told A Local Official It Is.

By Alexa Ura, Texas Tribune

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton assured lawmakers on Friday that his office hadn’t launched criminal investigations into nearly 100,000 voters flagged by the secretary of state’s office for citizenship review.

But email correspondence obtained by The Texas Tribune between an assistant county attorney and a Paxton deputy who cites “pending criminal investigations related to these issues” appears to contradict the attorney general’s claim.

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Five Shopko locations are set to close in the next few months. (Carlos Morales / Marfa Public Radio)

After Filing For Bankruptcy, Midwest Retailer Announces More Closures in West Texas

By Carlos Morales 

Wisconsin-based retailer Shopko has announced it is closing more stores than it first expected.

Last December, Shopko officials said the company was closing dozens of stores in 19 states across the country including one in Presidio. Now, Shopko will shutter more store locations throughout West Texas.

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Gym class doubles as practice for Valentine ISD’s Junior High basketball team. (Sally Beauvais / Marfa Public Radio)

How One Tiny School District In Rural West Texas Is Making It Work

By Sally Beauvais

It’s early yet in the 2019 state legislative session, but lawmakers have already named school finance reform as a top priority at the Texas Capitol this go-round.

Cities and suburbs can dominate the conversation when it comes to policymaking — and all this week on the Texas Standard, you’ve heard from teachers and administrators in rural areas about the unique challenges they face keeping their schools staffed, resourced, and open to the public.

If you’ve been waiting for some good news, you’re in luck. This story brings us to a tiny West Texas town — population 130. There’s no gas station, and you have to drive 30 miles to find a grocery store, but there is a school. And somehow, year after year, it outperforms the state in academics.

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Big Bend Brewing's taproom in Alpine will be open on Feb. 14 and 15 this year to sell a specialty bottle -- one of the last in production before the West Texas brewers announced they were halting operations. (Carlos Morales / Marfa Public Radio)

Despite Halting Operations, West Texas Brewery Will Still Host Annual Valentine’s Day Event

By Carlos Morales

Less than a month after Big Bend Brewing announced it was closing, the popular West Texas brewery this week announced it will still hold an annual event in Valentine, Texas.

For the last six years, Big Bend Brewing has held a Valentine’s Day festival in the far West Texas town, population 86, celebrating with craft beer, music and food. But shortly after the group “suspended operations,” questions began to rise about the fate of its annual festival.

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Marfa Public Radio 2018 Murrow Awards – Excellence in Innovation

In 2018, Marfa Public Radio took a week-long road trip across its wide region, a broadcast range covering more than 30,000 square miles of rural West Texas. The goal: to engage listeners in person, and introduce our new Hearken-based project, West Texas Wonders.

The aim of the project is simple: to listen to our community. We’re asking listeners what they want to know about the place we all call home.

Our reporters then find the answers and broadcast them in the form of radio stories.

In order to have a successful launch, we knew we couldn’t just promote West Texas Wonders digitally. Not all of our listeners are on social media, or the internet, for that matter. What’s more, Marfa and the greater Big Bend Region are hubs for tourism, and our online audience spans far beyond our local community. We wanted to make sure that that the loudest voices driving the series weren’t coming from the outside.

So instead of relying on the web to engage with our listeners, we decided to hit the road!

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Marfa Public Radio 2019 Murrow Awards – Excellence In Social Media

Below are a few examples throughout the year that highlight Marfa Public Radio’s use of social media.

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Marfa Public Radio 2019 Continuing Coverage Murrow Submission

Immigration policy dominated headlines in 2018. The Trump Administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy was scrutinized for causing the practice of family separation and an increase in the uptick of migrant children held in facilities like the Tornillo Shelter. 

The continuing coverage submissions for Marfa Public Radio explores the practice of family separation, the path to reunification, and looks at the Tornillo shelter and the policies that caused it to open.

Tornillo Shelter/Family Separation Continuing Coverage 2019 Entries  – Marfa Public Radio

June 8, 2018 – In West Texas, Three Immigrant Mothers Who Crossed Illegally Wait To Be Reunited With Their Children, By Sally Beauvais

In May 2018, 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 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.

June 14, 2018 – Tornillo Port Of Entry Will Become Temporary Shelter For Immigrant Minors, By Carlos Morales

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.

In the next few days, 360 children are expected to arrive in Tornillo.

June 15, 2018 – 
State Representative Expects Nearly 300 Migrant Children At Tornillo Shelter By End Of Friday, By Diana Nguyen

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.

June 17, 2018 – 
More than 2,000 March In Tornillo To Protest Family Separation At The Border, By Sally Beauvais, Carlos Morales, and Diana Nguyen

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.

June 30, 2018 – 
In Alpine and Across U.S., Protestors March Against Trump’s Immigration Policy, By Diana Nguyen

At rallies across Texas and the U.S., people are marching to protest the Trump administration’s immigration policy.

In Alpine, a crowd of roughly 150 protestors — mostly dressed in white — gathered at the Brewster County Courthouse to denounce family separations along the U.S.-Mexico border.

July 11, 2018 – 
As Reunification Deadline Approaches, One Migrant Family Wonders When They’ll See Their Daughter, By Diana Nguyen

The looming deadline to reunify parents and children separated at the U.S.-Mexico border is approaching quickly. A federal judge in California ordered the Trump administration to finish reuniting families before the end of this month, but it’s still unclear exactly how the government will accomplish this. Agencies are scrambling to comply — a task complicated by each case’s unique challenges.

Among those waiting to be reunited are Amalia — a nine-year-old Guatemalan girl — and her father. She’s in New York while he’s being detained thousands of miles away, in the West Texas town of Sierra Blanca.

August 17, 2018 – 
KERA/KQED – “A Line Divides”, By Carlos Morales

In a special program, “A Line Divides: 100 Days Since Zero Tolerance,” KERA’s Think and KQED’s The California Report team up to examine the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, the crackdown on immigration, and the separation of families who attempted to cross the border.

Marfa Public Radio’s Carlos Morales contributed to the episode with a story exploring the controversies of Texas youth and family detention facilities.

September 11, 2018 – Tornillo Migrant Shelter To Expand, Remain Open Through December, By Sally Beauvais

A temporary shelter housing migrant children in the West Texas border town of Tornillo will remain open at least until December 31st. This is the third time the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has opted to renew the contract for the so-called “tent city” since it opened in June.

October 1, 2018 – 
Tornillo’s Tent City Now Holds 1,500 Migrant Children, By Sally Beauvais

Across the country, the government is running out of beds to shelter a record number of detained migrant children currently in its custody — over 13,000 as of October 2. That’s part of the reason kids are still living in tents in Tornillo, the small border town hosting what was supposed to be a temporary installation.

The last and only other time reporters were allowed inside the tightly-controlled youth detention facility, a couple hundred kids were there. This time, that number has nearly quintupled. The facility expanded rapidly following a September announcement that it would remain open at least until the end of the year. Reporter Sally Beauvais was allowed inside for a tour of the facility.

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Texas Secretary Of State David Whitley Defends Releasing Flawed Data About Voter Citizenship Review

By Alexa Ura, Texas Tribune 

Almost two weeks after calling into question the citizenship status of almost 100,000 registered voters, Texas’ new chief elections officer, David Whitley, defended his office’s decision to hand over those voters’ names to law enforcement even though he knew the list could contain mistakes.

At a Senate hearing to consider his confirmation as secretary of state, Whitley vacillated between telling lawmakers he referred the list of voters to the attorney general’s office because his office had no power to investigate them for illegal voting and describing the citizenship review efforts as an ongoing process based on a list that still needed to be reviewed by local officials. But he made clear is that his office knew from the start that the data could be faulty.

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Fear of Immigrants, An American Tradition

On this edition of The Rambling Boy, Lonn explores the history of immigrants and American feelings towards said immigrants.


The Rambling Boy is broadcast Mondays after the 10 am newscast and again after the 7 pm newscast.
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