UT Austin students line up to vote at the Flawn Academic Center in 2016. (Gabriel C Pérez / KUT)

Turnout Among Young Texas Voters Exploded In 2018. Groups Want To Make It Even Bigger In 2020.

By Ashley Lopez, KUT

The next presidential election may be more than a year away, but groups working to get young people in the state civically engaged have been beefing up their operations for a while now.

One of those groups, MOVE Texas, has experienced a massive growth in staff, organizers and investments.


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Grecia founded Casa Respetttrans as a safe haven for LGBTQ asylum seekers in Ciudad Juárez. (Mallory Falk / KERA News)

In Juárez, A Migrant Shelter Offers Refuge For LGBTQ Asylum Seekers

By Mallory Falk, KERA

Mexico is the second deadliest country in the world for transgender people, according to a recent study. Yet many LGBTQ migrants are stuck in the border city of Ciudad Juárez. 

People from places like Honduras and El Salvador are waiting for their turn to claim asylum in the United States; some have been assigned numbers and added to a long waiting list, as part of a policy called metering. To protect themselves, many are taking refuge in a special shelter called Casa Respetttrans.


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Monica McBride, chair of the Brewster County Republican Party, urged local officials to adopt a "Second Amendment sanctuary" resolution on Wednesday. (Sally Beauvais / Marfa Public Radio)

Brewster County Commissioners Vote Down “Second Amendment Sanctuary” Resolution

By Sally Beauvais

Officials in Brewster County declined to adopt a “Second Amendment sanctuary” resolution in commissioners court on Wednesday.

The county is now the fourth in Far West Texas to consider taking on the designation — as local gun rights advocates urge their representatives to join a movement made up of other counties and municipalities primarily across the rural, western U.S.


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The Presidio County Courthouse in downtown Marfa. (Marfa Public Radio)

Presidio County Officials To Hold Oct. 2 Meeting On Mass Gathering Permit Process

By Marfa Public Radio

Presidio County Commissioners Court will hold a public meeting next month dedicated to gathering input from residents about the county’s permitting procedures for mass gatherings and outdoor festivals.

No action will be taken at the Oct. 2 meeting, but residents are encouraged to attend and share their feedback as the county works on developing the application materials.


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At Odessa’s Radcliff Stadium, less than a week after a gunman went on a shooting spree in the city, the Permian Panthers faced off against El Paso’s Franklin Cougars. (Mitch Borden / Marfa Public Radio)

After Two Mass Shootings, What Does The Gun Debate Look Like In West Texas?

By Sally Beauvais and Mitch Borden

August was a month unlike any other for West Texas. Two mass shootings — one in the city of El Paso and another in Odessa — left 29 dead and dozens injured. The tragedies have pushed the Lone Star State into the national conversation on gun violence, once again. 

Texas is, in general, a gun-loving state. But what does the discussion look like on the ground for West Texans?


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kb Thomason & Ria Leigh of Saint Profanus (Danielle Levitt)

Local Art Collaborative Sees Inspiration In Lady Justice

By Diana Nguyen

Atop pretty much every courthouse, you’ll be sure to find lady justice — a symbol of a balanced and fair legal process.

But in Presidio County, the courthouse’s statue is broken. It’s missing its iconic blindfold and scales. The statue’s condition is the inspiration for an art project, Domina de Bardo, which will premiere this weekend.


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tate Sen. José Rodríguez's district covers El Paso, Culberson, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis and Presidio counties. (Emree Weaver/The Texas Tribune)

Sen. José Rodríguez, An El Paso Democrat, Announces His Retirement

By Cassandra Pollock and Patrick Svitek, Texas Tribune

State Sen. José Rodríguez, an El Paso Democrat, announced Friday that he will not seek reelection to the upper chamber in 2020.

Rodriguez informed El Paso colleagues of his decision in a text late Thursday night that was obtained by The Texas Tribune. He made the announcement official at his district office.


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The Presidio Station is one of a handful of locations in the sprawling, 513-mile stretch of border covered by the Big Bend Sector, where Migrant Protection Protocols was rolled out in August. (GABRIEL C. PÉREZ / KUT)

Migrant Protection Protocols Quietly Expands To Big Bend Sector

By Carlos Morales

A controversial Trump administration policy requiring some asylum seekers to wait in Mexico as their cases progress through U.S. immigration courts has now expanded to the Big Bend Sector — a remote but sprawling 500-mile stretch of the Texas-Mexico border.

Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) — sometimes referred to as “Remain in Mexico” — was officially rolled out earlier this year in California and soon expanded to major border cities in Texas such as El Paso, Laredo, Brownsville, and — just this month — Eagle Pass

The move to expand the policy to the Big Bend Sector began in August, according to the sector’s chief, Matthew Hudak. In an interview with Marfa Public Radio, Hudak said migrants selected for MPP in the Big Bend Sector are sent to El Paso where they’re processed, and then are sent to Mexico to wait out their asylum claims.


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From left: Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen hosted the first meeting of the Texas Safety Commission at the state Capitol on Aug. 22. (Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune)

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott suggests improving voluntary background checks for person-to-person gun sales

By Cassandra Pollock, Texas Tribune

On the heels of two deadly mass shootings last month, Gov. Greg Abbott proposed a series of ideas to the Texas Legislature on Thursday aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of people who should not possess them — though he stopped short of joining another top Republican’s push for mandatory background checks for person-to-person firearm sales.


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U.S. citizens use ropes to cross the Rio Grande from San Antonio del Bravo, Mexico, back into Candelaria, Texas. U.S. citizens depend on the free health clinic in San Antonio del Bravo. (Lorne Matalon)

Why Crossing Into Mexico Is A Lifesaver For Some In A Small Texas Border Town

By Lorne Matalon

In a reversal of stereotypes along one rugged stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border, U.S. citizens are the ones breaking border laws.

It is, of course, illegal to enter the U.S. without passing through an official border crossing. Along one stretch of the Rio Grande, the river that marks the southern U.S. border with Mexico, U.S. citizens are doing just that because of a shortage of basic services, including health care, in rural Texas.


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Classical Guitarist Evan Taucher performing in Marfa Public Radio DJ Nick Hurt's living room. (Courtesy of Nick Hurt)

Texans In Tune: Evan Taucher

Nick Hurt, host of Marfa Public Radio’s Monday classical program, In Tune, is launching a new segment of his show dedicated to live recordings and interviews with fellow musicians at the University of Texas at Austin.

It’s called Texans In Tune.


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Residents gather outside the Presidio County Courthouse on a September night in Marfa. (Sally Beauvais / Marfa Public Radio)

Presidio County To Hold Public Meeting Dedicated to “Mass Gathering” Permits

By Sally Beauvais

Presidio County officials have agreed to hold a public meeting in the near future to discuss local permitting procedures for large-scale events.

The decision comes after months of debate between the county and residents about a controversial festival that may be coming to West Texas.


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Thu. Sep 19 Interview: Luis Armendariz; Musician Molly Rodriguez

Luis Armendariz at the Presidio Lumber Yard. (Carlos Morales / Marfa Public Radio)

Luis Armendariz

For today’s show, we’re highlighting voices from Presidio to celebrate of the launch our newest broadcast frequency KOJP 95.3 FM. 

Diana Nguyen talks to Luis Armendariz, a 75-year-old Presidio resident who’s spent the majority of his life in West Texas. He was the former superintendent of Big Bend Ranch State Park and took over managing the Presidio Lumber Yard — the Armendariz family business — after he retired from Texas Parks and Wildlife.

They discuss his life and family history.



Molly Rodriguez (Emanuel Burgos )

Molly Rodriguez

Later in the show, Diana Nguyen speaks to Ojinaga-based musician Molly Rodriguez.

She plays across West Texas with Mariachi Santa Cruz and The Resonators. (Her parents, John and Lucy Ferguson, are bandmates in both outfits.)

On top of playing gigs, she’s busy teaching band in Presidio and making her own music, sometimes collaborating with her younger brother FullyMaxxed.

Nguyen talks to Rodriguez talks about growing up in Presidio, what it’s like to split time between two countries, and her music.

You can listen the new song “Descansar” here.

West Texas Talk is broadcast each Thursday at 6:00 PM and each Friday at 9:00 PM.
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Thu. Sep 12 Interview: The Odessa Shooting

Odessans mourn at the memorial for victims of the shooting that occurred on August 31, 2019. (Mitch Borden / Marfa Public Radio)

Mitch Borden and Carlos Morales

Diana Nguyen talks to Marfa Public Radio reporters Mitch Borden and Carlos Morales about the shooting that began in Midland County and continued into the City of Odessa over Labor Day Weekend.

On August 31st, A 36-year-old white gunman opened fire after being stopped by a state trooper. He proceeded to drive through Odessa on a rampage, killing 7 people and injuring at least 25 others. 

This was the second mass shooting in West Texas within the span of a month. In early August, a gunman targeted Hispanics at a Walmart in El Paso. He killed 22 people and injured 24 others.

They discuss how Odessa is coping and what state and federal lawmakers are doing to address gun violence.



West Texas Talk is broadcast each Thursday at 6:00 PM and each Friday at 9:00 PM.
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KXWT Signal Is Temporarily Down Due To A Summer Storm

Earlier this evening, a thunderstorm passed over Marfa Public Radio’s Gardendale transmitter site and knocked out our Permian Basin radio signal. We are currently working on restoring full radio service to the region.

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State Rep. Brooks Landgraf Will Run For Re-election For State House, Forgoing Congressional Bid

By Mitch Borden

State Rep. Brooks Landgraf will run for his fourth term in the Texas House of Representatives, where he says he “can serve most effectively and immediately as a strong, conservative voice for West Texas.”

Speculation surrounding Landgraf’s future has swirled since longtime Republican Congressman Mike Conaway announced his resignation in July. Some believed Rep. Landgraf would look to run for the Permian Basin seat Conaway has held since 2005, but the Republican representative said “there’s more work to be done” in District 81.

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Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick And NRA Feud Over Gun Background Checks

By Alex Samuels, Texas Tribune

Two usual political allies — Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and the National Rifle Association — traded rhetorical blows Friday after Patrick continued to advocate for requiring background checks for stranger-to-stranger gun sales.

Calling his support for the background checks a “political gambit,” the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action said in a statement that Patrick’s “‘proposals’ would resurrect the same broken, Bloomberg-funded failures that were attempted under the Obama administration.”

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