- Galveston, TX Weather :: 87F A Few Clouds September 24, 201787F A Few Clouds
- Galveston, TX Weather :: 87F A Few Clouds September 24, 2017
- These are the NFL players protesting Sunday amid Trump criticism September 24, 2017NFL players continued a league-wide protest late Sunday afternoon by locking arms, taking to their knees or declining to come out onto the field as the US national anthem played before their games. The athletes are reacting to recent comments made by President Donald Trump about players who refuse to stand for the anthem in […]
- Texans fall to Patriots 36-33 September 24, 2017Tom Brady connected with Brandin Cooks for a 25-yard touchdown pass with 23 seconds left, his fifth TD throw of the game, and the New England Patriots rallied to beat the Houston Texans 36-33 on Sunday.PHOTOS: Texans take on Patriots in Week 3Brady finished 25 of 35 for 378 yards as New England won its […]
- Texans release statement responding to President Trump's comments on NFL protests September 24, 2017The Houston Texans released a statement Sunday, calling President Trump's recent comments against NFL players' national anthem protests "divisive and counterproductive."The statement read: "The NFL specifically, and football in general, has always unified our communities and families. The comments made by the President were divisive and counterproductive to what our country needs right now. I […]
- Dynamo, NYCFC battle to 1-1 draw September 24, 2017New York's Maximiliano Moralez and Houston's Mauro Manotas scored early goals and the Dynamo and NYCFC battled to a 1-1 draw on Saturday.The game was moved to Pratt & Whitney Stadium because of a scheduling conflict at Yankee Stadium.Moralez picked up his fifth goal in the sixth minute when he flicked a header inside the […]
- NFL chief, NBA stars slam Trump September 23, 2017President Donald Trump came under harsh criticism Saturday from the NFL and some of the NBA's top players after he blasted prominent athletes for kneeling during the national anthem and refusing to come to the White House, putting himself in the center of a controversy with significant racial and cultural undertones.NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell slammed […]
- Texas A&M beats Arkansas in overtime again September 23, 2017Armani Watts intercepted a pass in overtime and Texas A&M extended its win streak to six games against Arkansas with a 50-43 victory on Saturday.Christian Kirk had given the Aggies the lead on a 10-yard touchdown reception, his third score of the day, on the first possession of overtime before Watts intercepted Arkansas quarterback Austin […]
- Texas Tech snaps Houston's 16-game home winning streak September 23, 2017Nic Shimonek passed for 321 yards and two scores and Texas Tech defeated Houston 27-24 on Saturday, snapping the Cougars' 16-game home winning streak.Shimonek's favorite target was Keke Coutee, who made 11 catches for 161 yards and a score, which came on a 77-yard pass in the third quarter.Houston (2-1) owned the nation's longest active […]
- Gattis, Morton help Astros win 6-2, Angels lose 6th in row September 23, 2017Evan Gattis hit a three-run homer to back a solid start by Charlie Morton and the Houston Astros further dampened the AL wild-card hopes of the Los Angeles Angels with a 6-2 win Saturday.Justin Upton hit two home runs for the Angels, who matched a season worst with their sixth straight loss. Los Angeles began […]
- Verlander, Gurriel lift Astros over Angels 3-0 September 23, 2017Justin Verlander pitched one-hit ball over seven innings to remain perfect with Houston and Yuli Gurriel hit a three-run homer to propel the Astros to a 3-0 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.Verlander (14-8) walked two and struck out six to improve to 4-0 since being traded from Detroit on Aug. 31.The […]
- Local tennis star inspired by famous tennis match at Astrodome September 23, 2017Opening in theaters this weekend is the movie "Battle of the Sexes."It's based on the tennis match played in 1973 at the Astrodome.A local woman who watched the match as a teen said it inspired her own professional tennis career.Kasey Hughes Wright played college tennis and went on to coach.In a small-world twist, Wright later […]
- These are the NFL players protesting Sunday amid Trump criticism September 24, 2017
- Community happenings, Sept. 24 September 24, 2017Galveston United Methodist Church will host a chicken noodle dinner from 5-7 p.m. Thursday ... The church is located at 515 S. Maple St. in Galveston.
- Community happenings, Sept. 24 September 24, 2017
Travel through time!
- Cap the San Jacinto Waste Pits, Save Galveston Bay September 24, 2017JT Edwards, State Republican Executive Committeeman for Senate District 11, has called for the capping of the San Jacinto River Waste Pits to protect Galveston Bay.
- Galveston County Health District September 23, 2017The Galveston County Health District's Women, Infants and Children division will host a free parenting class focusing on infants on October 16 in Texas City.
- College of the Mainland Board of Trustees September 22, 2017The College of the Mainland Board of Trustees on Thursday voted unanimously to adopt a property tax rate of $0.216791 per $100 valuation for the 2017 Tax Year.
- City of Galveston September 22, 2017The City of Galveston is asking residents to conserve water on Monday due to maintenance at the Thomas Mackey Water Treatment Plant, which provides water to the island.
- Galveston College September 22, 2017Galveston College will kick off its Coastal Culinary Speakers Series on October 5 with Robb Walsh, co-founder of Galveston Eats.
- Galveston College Board of Regents September 22, 2017The Galveston College Board of Regents, in a special meeting today, voted to adopt the college's property tax rate of $0.166188 per $100 valuation for the 2017 Tax Year.
- Galveston County Judge's Office September 22, 2017Galveston County has issued an outreach form to assess damage and provide resources for those affected by Hurricane Harvey.
- Texas A&M University at Galveston September 22, 2017Texas A&M University at Galveston has announced that a report on the Ike Dike project will be featured on CBS's news broadcast, 60 Minutes, on Sunday.
- Texas A&M University at Galveston September 21, 2017Texas A&M University at Galveston was recently awarded $2.54 million to continue researching the Deepwater Horizon spill.
- Cap the San Jacinto Waste Pits, Save Galveston Bay September 24, 2017
- Donald Trump adds more countries to travel ban 25 Sep 2017 05:55 Metro Cafe The restrictions range from an indefinite ban on visas for citizens of countries such as Syria to more targeted restrictions (Picture: EPA) Citizens of eight countries, including North Korea and Venezuela, will face new restrictions on entry to the US …
- George Clooney Blasts Trump And The ... 25 Sep 2017 05:55 The Age George Clooney is a superstar, but he's got absolutely no time for anyone who thinks that makes him out of touch. Leading up to the release of his new movie, Clooney had some very choice words for anyone who thinks he's somehow living in a bubble. …
- Trump signs new travel ban proclamation on 8 countries 25 Sep 2017 05:51 KOIN WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump announced new restrictions on travel to the United States as his ban on visitors from six Muslim-majority countries expiredSunday, 90 days after it went into effect. Trump signed proclamation implementing travel …
- The Latest: Trump administration announces new travel ban 25 Sep 2017 05:51 WFED WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump’s travel ban (all times local): 7 p.m. Travelers from eight countries will face restrictions on entry to the U.S, ranging from a total ban to more targeted restrictions, under a new proclamation …
- Lawyer: Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner used personal email for some White House business 25 Sep 2017 05:49 The Topeka Capital-Journal WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, used his personal email account on dozens of occasions to communicate with colleagues in the White House, his lawyer said Sunday. Between January and August, Kushner either received or …
- Donald Trump promising huge tax cut; focus on taxes vs health care 25 Sep 2017 05:46 The Economic Times MORRISTOWN: President Donald Trump is promising "the largest tax cut in the history of our country" that will slash rates for the middle class and corporations to spark economic growth and jobs. Trump said Sunday his "primary focus" is …
- EXCLUSIVE–John Bolton: Trump Should Decertify, Withdraw from Iran Nuclear Deal Entirely 25 Sep 2017 05:45 Breitbart “I think the president should decertify. I think he should withdraw from the deal entirely,” Bolton told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview outside Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza during the United Nations General Assembly last week. “I think it was a …
- Trump administration announces new travel ban 25 Sep 2017 05:45 Odessa American WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump's travel ban (all times local): 7 p.m. Travelers from eight countries will face restrictions on entry to the U.S, ranging from a total ban to more targeted restrictions, under a new proclamation …
- Pelosi: Trump Has ‘Unclean Hands’ on Race — He Has Exploited Divisions in Our Country 25 Sep 2017 05:45 Breitbart by Pam Key24 Sep 20170 24 Sep, 2017 24 Sep, 2017 Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said President Donald Trump criticizing NFL players for taking a knee during the national anthem at games was a continuation of …
- President Trump Slams Commish Goodell for ‘Justifying’ the NFL’s ‘Disrespect’ for Our Country 25 Sep 2017 05:45 Breitbart On Saturday evening, Trump sent out a tweet urging the commissioner to “tell them to stand!” “Roger Goodell of NFL just put out a statement trying to justify the total disrespect certain players show to our country,” Trump tweeted on September 23. “Tell …
- As a result of Hurricane Harvey, 600 more Texas prisoners getting AC
- Trooper fired for Sandra Bland stop: “My safety was in jeopardy.”
- Mysterious sea creature that washed up on Texas beach after Harvey identified
- Within days, this Austin company hopes to start legally growing marijuana
- Former officer accused of stealing $2,400 from dead man indicted on theft charges
- 135,000 gallons of sludge released into Galveston Bay after equipment failure, officials say
- Post-Harvey, Houston officials hope Congress is up for funding Ike Dike
- Ex-husband strangled Baytown realtor while children in next room, prosecutors say
- Pizza Hut manager threatened workers evacuating for Irma
- The Road to Huntsville
- Now you can carry any knife (almost) anywhere in Texas
- In beleaguered La Marque schools, Harvey stirs up old anxieties
- Flooded cars already being put up for sale
- Trump Nominates Lawyers from Anti-LGBT ‘Religious Freedom’ Group to be Texas Federal Judges
- Man survives being shot 16 times outside southwest Houston home
- Floridians jam highways to flee wrath of Hurricane Irma
- U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul again top contender to be Trump’s homeland security chief
- Experts: Much of Harvey-Related Air Pollution was Preventable
- Texans in Congress aim for united front ahead of long fight for Harvey aid
- Texas churches damaged during Harvey sue FEMA for federal funding
- Amazon wants to open $5 billion second HQ in North America
- New law allows hunting hogs from hot air balloons, but few balloonists will offer it
- New texting while driving ban full of loopholes
- Woman urinates herself, yells racial slurs during DUI arrest, police say
- Police shoot, kill tiger running loose in neighborhood
- What to do if your vehicle flooded during Hurricane Harvey
- House overwhelmingly passes $7.9 billion Harvey aid bill
- Selena’s family mourning the death of Houston relatives killed in Harvey flooding
- Trump ending immigration program that has impacted more than 120,000 in Texas
- Cinco Ranch flood victims demand buyout from federal government
- The Impossible City
- Our Lady of the Underground
- Texas officials see long road from Harvey for state transportation network
- Officials are starting to grapple with the costs of Harvey. Here’s what you should know today.
- Thanks to their State Rep, Friendswood Family Rushes to File Insurance Claim for their Flooded Home
- President Trump to visit Houston today to survey Harvey destruction
- As floodwaters continue to rise in Lake Jackson, crews come in to help with evacuees
- Residents being warned of people impersonating city of Houston, FEMA inspectors
- Renters find issues with flood-damaged units, property
- Crosby plant explosion highlights state efforts to block access to chemical information
- Where the government spends to keep people in flood-prone Houston neighborhoods
- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott: No special session needed for Harvey aid
- Five days after Harvey, here’s where things stand in Texas
- Harvey brings catastrophic flooding to Houston; 5 reported dead
- Trump pardons former Sheriff Joe Arpaio
- Why Houston isn’t ready for Hurricane Harvey
- Judge Emmett, Mayor Turner say ignore ‘rumors’ about Hurricane Harvey
- Galveston Island prepares for Harvey’s impact
- Former Galveston ISD teacher accused of having sex with high school student
- Galveston deputy accused of assaulting girlfriend, investigators say
- In San Antonio, Cops Punch Down
- The Brief: Battle lines are (curiously) drawn in Texas’ redistricting fight
- Analysis: Firing the opening shots in the 2018 GOP primaries
- As Houston plots a sustainable path forward, it’s leaving this neighborhood behind
- Harris County emergency officials preparing for tropical system Harvey
- Federal court puts hold on Houston ordinance aimed at homeless camps
- Puppy attacked by pet store owner’s dog
- Mother left kids in hot car while she drank at bar, police say
- Angela Paxton, Texas attorney general’s wife, eyes Texas Senate run
- US imposes sanctions on Russian, Chinese firms over North Korea
- Parents’ plea for help in finding teenage couple missing for 48 hours
- 2 women claim they were groped by local massage therapist
- Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller criticizes Six Flags’ removal of Confederate flag
- El Paso City Council votes down city ID program
- League City Man Sentenced to 6 Years for Online Solicitation of a non-existent Minor
- UT-Austin removing Confederate statues in the middle of the night
- Galveston County Deputies Prevent Jumper on Bridge at 646 & I-45
- Dickinson Cops use Facebook to Catch a Burglar Named Jesus
- Evading Theft Suspects Taken Into Custody After Causing Accident in League City
- Father faces charges after he and missing boy found at hotel, authorities say
- Confederate Monument Protest Draws Hundreds in Houston
- Former HPD officer among those arrested in prostitution sting
- Mother charged with murder after child ejected during drunken driving crash
- Over 250 sex buyers, traffickers arrested on prostitution charges during sting
- Remember the Alamo (Differently)
- Your phone’s Bluetooth can locate illegal skimmer devices
- With Supreme Court appeal, Texas wants to keep congressional map intact
- Dallas, Houston Protests Planned as Confederate Monuments Under Fire in Texas
- With Trump’s Infrastructure Plan, Rural Texas Could be Left in Disrepair
- Body found in Bayou Vista while searching for woman who disappeared under ‘suspicious circumstances’
- South Florida woman accused of DUI with 3-year-old unbuckled in back seat
- Deputies: Mother tells son to buy her drugs
- HPD officer relieved of duty after DWI charge, officials say
- Abbott: Removing Confederate monuments “won’t erase our nation’s past”
- Prosecution rests at trial of woman accused in 2012 death of husband
- Confederate statue controversy hits Houston
- Selena’s brother taken into custody after landing on most wanted list
- In special session rubble, spotlight shines bright on Straus
- President Trump disbands White House business councils as CEOs leave
- Video shows deadly jailbreak; Man who pleaded guilty in deputy’s death sentenced to life
- Fisherman hooks gator in Buffalo Bayou
- Squatters or scam victims? Homeowner finds another family living in home
- Charges sought against those who toppled Confederate statue
- Houston group asks mayor to remove Confederate statue from downtown park
- Federal court invalidates part of Texas congressional map
- Texas to receive millions in federal funding for wildlife conservation projects
- How a total solar eclipse created France, Italy and Germany
- Deputies Go Unpunished for Invasive Cavity Search on Houston Roadside
- Florida man gets 6 years for firing gun during strip club selfie
- Map details where Texas hate groups are in 2017
- Man blames ‘hookah-smoking caterpillar’ for wrecking liquor store, police say
- ‘I feel like I was raped,’ woman says of invasive roadside strip search
- New Mexico Bandidos members held in Texas in firearms case
- Man, 57, commits suicide after shooting juveniles during road-rage incident, police say
- Mother charged with child abandonment after newborn found in flower bed
- President Trump condemns KKK, neo-Nazis as ‘thugs’
- Woman hit, killed by Houston garbage truck while crossing street
- Legislature advances annexation bill to Gov. Abbott
- 2 Teens Who Attacked Man Shot After Auto Accident in Galveston
- White nationalist rally, counter protest planned at Texas A&M on Sept. 11
- Hundreds Clash over Confederate Monument in San Antonio
- Greenspoint Mall to close in 60 days, sources say
- Texas House approves “compromise” city annexation bill
- Asps — poisonous, stinging caterpillars — back in season
- Texas bathroom bill appears to be all but dead in special session
- Gator spotted on Galveston County road
- After 2015 legalization, Texans may be able to buy medical cannabis oil by January
- Conroe Chief of Police asked to leave doctor’s office
- Law Enforcement Increasingly Opposed to Abbott’s Agenda
- Meet the Expert Who Helps Texas Cops Justify Extreme Behavior
- Baytown woman charged in two La Porte road-rage incidents
- FBI agents searched former Trump campaign chair’s home
- Special Session a ‘Battle Royal’ for Dominionists Who Seek Christian Rule
- Zoo employee accused of sex with 14-year-old boy
- New requirement for Texas driver’s license begins soon
- With 8 days left in special session, Texas House and Senate remain far apart
- What you need to know if your vehicle is flooded
- City of Houston applies for FEMA grant to help elevate homes in flood-prone areas
- Commissioners vote to ban swimming, fishing in San Luis Pass
- Texas backs Wisconsin in battle to protect partisan gerrymandering
- SE Houston gas pump appears to charge customers after they are done filling up
- Carjacking suspect accused of shooting father multiple times sentenced to 171 months in prison
- 4 arrested in connection with 2 deadly shootings in Montgomery County
- 1 drowns, 2 injured in incident at San Luis Pass
- 1 arrested, 1 on the run in linked cases of Spring nurse found dead, missing UH student
- Near Drowning at Bacliff Chase Park Pool
- Drunk Wrong Way Driver Arrested in Dickinson
- Lasker Park Community Swimming Pool to Open on August 15th
- Man accused of touching girls’ buttocks in back-to-school aisle at Walmart
- Rare pink dolphin spotted in Louisiana waterway
- Woman found hiding in bed of pickup truck says she ‘was just looking at the stars’
- Amazon sells out of toilet paper with Trump’s tweets
- Teen home invasion suspect killed, man on the run in Baytown
- Houston man last seen throwing life jacket to daughter before going underwater at Canyon Lake
- Deadly dare: 8-year-old girl dies after drinking boiling water
- 2nd Man In Robbery Spree Gets 20 Years Prison
- Oklahoma to seek death penalty against William Reese
- 4 officers taken to hospital after 2 patrol units run into each other, police say
- STATE LEGISLATURE PUTTING THE BRAKES ON TEXAS CITY ANNEXING SAN LEON WITHOUT SAN LEON RESIDENTS APPROVAL:
- 2 men charged in teen girl’s shooting death in Bacliff
- Weed company buys town in hopes of creating pot-friendly tourist destination
- Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick calls city governments the source of “all our problems in America”
- Man, 25, arrested for DWI after crashing into patrol car, deputies say
- Texas man snags “bucket list” 12-foot tiger shark off Padre Island
- Chauna Thompson, deputy terminated in wake of Denny’s choking death, appeals firing
- Humble ISD police officer accused of child pornography
- Angry woman robs cellphone store with large gun
- Dalia Dippolito discusses prison break in recorded jail call after recent conviction
- Tiny mermaid-painted shed drifted 200 miles in Gulf of Mexico
- Uber ride turns into nightmare for recent Texas A&M graduate
- ‘Sugar daddy’ banned from beaches after handing out provocative cards
- Business owners fight against crime in Chinatown
- 14-year-old girl clocked driving 107 mph during chase in Montgomery County
- Fight outside Spire Nightclub ends in crash, shooting
- When school’s out, rural Texas towns struggle to feed their hungry kids
- Guided bus tour of Houston’s strip clubs, massage parlors sheds light on human-trafficking business
- NASA looking to hire officer to protect earth from alien harm
- In Texas House, property tax proposals range from minor tweaks to abolishment
- Man exposes himself to woman outside fitness center, police say
- Man accused of robbing people who post items on buy, sell sites
- What it means for Texas colleges if Trump targets affirmative action
- ‘Cash Me Outside’ girl sentenced for stealing mother’s car, using her credit cards
- President Trump signs bill imposing sanctions on Russia
- Wife shoots, kills husband after finding him with another woman, police say
- Humble restaurant employees accused of sexually assaulting teenage girls
- Family reunited with dog 3+ years after it went missing
- Angleton animal sanctuary facing fines after filing lawsuit
- Woman finds evidence bag full of marijuana at neighborhood park
- State Rep. Dawnna Dukes declines deal from Travis County District Attorney
- Report: Texas could lose billions if new immigration enforcement law stands
- Texas’ War on Local Control is Part of National Trend
- Wife of accused gunman dies after double shooting that led to innocent woman’s death
- ‘Ghost forests’ appearing from Canada to Texas
- Man charged after leaving crash that left motorcycle rider in critical condition, police say
- Flight in Vegas delayed by naked passenger, officials say
- Galveston’s Pleasure Pier ride Revolution shut down temporarily
- How often do shark attacks happen in Texas waters?
- Naked bank robbery suspect tosses stolen money
- Harris County officials continue crackdown on unlicensed after-hour bars
- Wife: Disagreement over Trump contributed to divorce from state attorney
- Kingwood native torches 8 cars after wedding called off, police say
- HPD officer hit by car, plunges 16 feet off Southwest Freeway
- Texas executes man who claimed his lawyers committed fraud
- Woman arrested on suspicion of posting ‘revenge porn’ online
- Statue honoring Alvin’s hometown hero, Nolan Ryan, topples
- Man arrested after showing porn to child at supermarket, authorities say
- Underage woman claims she was raped after being served at Houston-area restaurant
- The Woodlands teens accused of Florida crime spree after posting Snapchat videos
- La Marque residents asked to boil water after order issued
- Man who fled to Mexico after murder charge 21 years ago arrested trying to re-enter US
- Texas Senate passes bill to allow people to vote on whether a city can annex them
- Spring man caught filming up skirts arrested on child porn, invasive photography charges
- One-armed, machete-wielding clown arrested, police say
- Despite Knowledge of Climate Change in 1970s, Texas Utility Companies Funded Climate Denial
- Venus Williams accuses 78-year-old man killed in crash of not wearing seat belt
- Scammers target college students eager for scholarship money
- Woman accused of kidnapping baby while hitchhiking
- Every Texan in the U.S. House just voted for sanctions against Russia
- Man accused of producing child pornography
- Persistence pays off for rural Texans besieged by sky-high power prices
- Man accused of beating dog with crow bar
- 2 charged with prostitution after offering sex acts to undercover constables, authorities say
- Senate votes to start debate on health care bill
- Harris County pastor charged with sexual abuse of a child
- Trump’s New Immigration Lockup Draws Local Opposition in Conroe
- Set for execution, death row inmate alleges legal fraud in hopes of a stay
- Concerns raised over new Harris County bail system
- Crooks return to rob dentist office after police leave
- 2 throw drugs out window during high-speed chase, police say
- 5 arrested after drugs, gun, money seized from Magnolia home
- 15 years later, Clara Harris remains in state prison for husband’s murder
- Woman, 91, kicked out of Sunnyside home
- Congressman: If female GOP senators were South Texas men, I’d challenge them to a duel
- Turning Tail
- Death toll in San Antonio immigrant-smuggling case rises to 10
- Ex-Mexican drug cartel leader gets 30 years in US prison
- Kushner’s statement on Russia: What to know
- Analysis: In special session, Texas Senate’s the hare, House is the tortoise
- Texas Senate panel targets mail-in ballot fraud after high-profile case
- Drunk Driver Sentenced to 50 Years for Fatal Crash
- Tanker Crew Rescues 5 In Capsized Boat
- Man Sentenced to 45 Years on Drug Charges
- After Texas “human trafficking crime,” Lt. Gov. Patrick lauds sanctuary city law
- Charges possible in disturbing Florida drowning case
- Texas Senate committee OKs bill to outlaw city cellphone restrictions
- Texas Senate panel approves teacher bonuses, retirement benefits
- Carjacking suspect opens fire on officer during chase in SW Houston
- Man, 2 children killed in crash in NE Houston
- Katy woman arrested for DWI after man follows, records her erratic driving
- Mickey Mouse mask-wearing burglar caught on camera breaking into 2 stores
- Houston pastor Victoria Osteen says she does not endorse skin care product
- Senate committee passes bills on private school choice and school finance study
- Bill limiting city, county spending fuels war over local control
- Woman, 93, dragged during carjacking at church, police say
- Trans Texans, Advocates Swarm Texas Capitol to Oppose ‘Bathroom Bills’ (Again)
- Man admits to killing 14-year-old half-brother, authorities say
- Monkey on the loose in south Houston after attacking girl, police say
- ‘Million Dollar Ho’ arrested in Florida prostitution sting
- Turner reopens bids for recycling contract to 4 companies
- District attorney to pursue death penalty against 4 suspects
- Houston woman charged in connection with ransom scheme
- Pastor in The Woodlands accused of prostitution
- Academy Sports + Outdoors laying off 100 employees
- 1 dead after shooting at NW Harris County apartments
- Kay Bailey Hutchison vows toughness on Russia as NATO ambassador
- Conroe horse-riding trainer accused of sexually assaulting child
- Environmental groups sue EPA over lax Texas air pollution permits
- Abbott adds school finance, retired teacher benefits to special session
- Bodycam allegedly shows Baltimore cop planting drugs
- Key events in OJ Simpson’s fall from sports hero, movie star
- Heat is part of life at Texas prisons, but federal judge orders one to cool it
- Growing health trend bypasses doctors’ offices for diagnosis, treatment
- HPD chief answers questions about Josue Flores murder case
- Sarah Davis wants more information about “misconduct” at TABC
- Texas Bill Would Revoke Medical License of Doctors Who Perform Abortions
- Senate gives early OK to must-pass “sunset” legislation
- Lead singer of The Suffers featured in national campaign
- Man wanted in 2016 fraud case
- Couple arrested for second time for impersonating Adele’s manager, police say
- Mexico says electronic device checks on US flights begin
- Dancing with Denial
- Teen shot at high school party at AirBNB house in southwest Houston
- Toll road drivers getting fed up with erroneous charges
- Trump administration: Trust Texas on voter education spending
- Baby dies after being infected with cold sore virus through kiss, parents say
- 24 firearms stolen after Texian Firearms robbed twice in one day
- Texas Republicans in Congress process health care bill’s collapse
- Florida man arrested after reporting cocaine stolen, deputies say
- Teens arrested after Facebook Live video of 23-year-old woman’s assault
- Girl, 17, fires shot at intruder while chasing him out of her house
- Police: Aunt charged after leaving young neice, nephew in hot car outside grocery store
- Texas Senate moves to fast-track special session agenda
- President Trump: ‘Let Obamacare fail’
- Why the murder charge against the Texas police officer who killed Jordan Edwards is rare
- What happens if Congress fails to repeal Obamacare?
- Four Texas Republicans in Congress were just outraised by Democratic challengers
- Angleton mulls proposal for RV park next to Stephen F. Austin statue
- Trump administration awards $2.3 million to Texas for border security
- Texas Democrats lay out their own special session priorities
- Gov. Abbott says property taxes are his top issue for special session
- Small Government Crusader Wants $35 Million to Fix a Battleship in His District
- OJ Simpson faces good chance at parole in Nevada robbery
- It’s a Trump Miracle! There are Signs of Life Among Texas Democrats
- IBM ups the ante in fight against Texas bathroom bill
- At some Texas universities, students accused of rape can transfer without a record
- Gas pump overcharges customers in League City
- Father survives after van crushed by 7,000-pound scrap metal
- Two killed in crash during police chase in NE Houston, police say
- At tail end of Texas redistricting trial, judges skeptical of state’s defense
- After dissident’s death, Ted Cruz hopeful about changing Chinese Embassy address
- Harris County Toll Road Authority faces lawsuit over fees charged to drivers
- 1 killed in shooting at Bella Terra shopping center in Fort Bend County, deputies say
- On day 5 of redistricting trial, Texas refutes claim that current political maps discriminate
- Trump Administration Preparing Texas Wildlife Refuge for First Border Wall Segment
- Second arrest made in death of 79-year-old Hedwig Village woman
- Greg Abbott’s Latino Problem
- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott formally launches 2018 re-election bid
- Licensing director is seventh official out at troubled Texas liquor agency
- Sketch released of man wanted in shooting that wounded 1-year-old
- Critics say Abbott catering to donors with special session priorities
- Former deputy constable facing sexual assault charges; other victims sought
- Man on Jet Ski catches goliath grouper off coast
- DPS trooper accused of prostitution
- Two arrested in connection with prostitution spas near The Woodlands
- MEET JOY: Baby elephant born at the Houston Zoo
- Revised Senate health care bill draws Cruz’s support but still short votes
- Heartbreakers in Dickinson and Jackie’s Brickhouse in Kemah Sued by Victim of Drunk Driver
- Galveston Yacht Captain Who Used Phony ID To Hide After Mysterious Deaths Is Sentenced
- Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick proposes millions for teacher bonuses and retirement
- Texas Republican congressman calls on Trump to keep his kids out of White House
- Trump meeting with France’s Macron in Paris
- Beto O’Rourke posts $2 million in fundraising in bid against Ted Cruz
- As congressional races draw big interest, Democrats still filling out statewide ticket
- Lawmakers failed to end troubled Driver Responsibility Program
- Man sues city, HPD, officer after excessive-force arrest, lawsuit says
- Family escapes SUV after it catches fire, days after purchase
- In court, redistricting battle puts sharper focus on 2013 Legislature
- Push made for change in evaluation of parolees after repeated crimes
- Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission names lone finalist for new executive director
- U.S. Rep. Al Green joins California Democrat’s effort to impeach President Trump
- Police seek father suspected of causing brain injury to child
- 4 arrested during home invasion in north Harris County, deputies say
- NYC launches $32 million plan to reduce rat population
- Houston public works director placed on leave amid bribery case involving HCC trustee
- Prying Eyes: Border Sheriffs to Use Iris-Scanning Tech in Push for ‘Virtual Wall’
- Trump defends embattled son after Fox News interview
- Texas death row inmate Scott Panetti to get further competency review
- Firefighters demanding pay raise in line with police officer salaries
- Former housekeeper’s son accused in Hedwig Village woman’s murder
- Two women accused of attacking woman with a hammer
- Woman, children left devastated after husband murdered by ex
- New executive director appointed to troubled Texas liquor agency
- U.S. Sens. Cornyn and Cruz sidestep questions about Trump and Russia
- Don’t throw rocks in glass cars? Glass concept car unveiled
- Community removes basketball hoop from park due to profanity
- Tow truck driver finds father of 4 shot to death outside SW Houston apartments
- Susan Combs, Fierce Critic of Endangered Species Act, Tapped for Agency in Charge of its Implementation
- Harris County will not join suit over state’s ‘sanctuary cities’ law
- Report: Shopping for electricity is getting cheaper in Texas
- Jenna Bush Hager goes through astronaut training at NASA’s JSC
- Trump Jr. tweets email chain on meeting with Russian lawyer
- Beachgoers form human chain to rescue family in water
- Five New Laws that Will Likely Get Texas Sued (Or Already Have)
- Sketch released of woman sought in northwest Houston shooting
- Video shows police officer violently beating homeless woman
- Voting rights battle in Pasadena could have Texas-wide legal ramifications
- Trial over Texas political maps starts in San Antonio
- 2 charged with capital murder after shooting man during drug deal, dumping body, police say
- Astros reach All-Star break in midst of historic season
- Willie Nelson on the road again, coming to Sugar Land’s Smart Financial Centre
- Texas Lawmaker Files Bill to Repeal SB 4 During Special Session
- Woman sought in shooting near Missouri City
- Shots fired at officers in southeast Houston, police say
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- Report: Loopholes Allow Polluters to Get Away With Worsening Air Quality
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Author Archives: Melissa del Bosque
For at least six months, private contractors and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have been quietly preparing to build the first piece of President Trump’s border wall through the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge in South Texas. The federally owned 2,088-acre refuge, often called the “crown jewel of the national wildlife refuge system,” could see construction begin as early as January 2018, according to a federal official who has been involved in the planning but asked to remain anonymous.
“This should be public information,” the official told the Observer. “There shouldn’t be government officials meeting in secret just so they don’t have to deal with the backlash. The public has the right to know about these plans.”
CBP plans to construct an 18-foot levee wall that would stretch for almost three miles through the wildlife refuge, according to the official. The structure would consist of a concrete base, which would serve as a levee, and be topped with a fence made of steel bollards, similar to a levee wall built almost a decade ago near Hidalgo, Texas. A second federal official confirmed these details to the Observer.
On Friday afternoon, several workers were drilling into the existing earthen levee on the wildlife refuge and extracting soil samples to prepare for the construction. A security guard watching over the site asked me to leave when I started asking questions. Engineers from Michael Baker International, a global engineering firm, have been attending meetings on the project, according to the federal official.
The official said that the Department of Homeland Security picked the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge as the first site for a border wall segment because it’s owned by the federal government, avoiding legal entanglements with private landowners. At least 95 percent of the Texas border is privately owned. As the Observer’s June cover story, “Over the Wall,” detailed, at least one-third of the 320 condemnation suits filed against landowners in 2007 are still pending.
Established in 1943, the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge is one of the top birding destinations in North America. Home to at least 400 bird species and 450 species of plants, it also hosts both the rare Sabal palm and the endangered ocelot. The refuge is located on the Texas-Mexico border about 10 miles southeast of McAllen in the Rio Grande Valley.
If the levee wall is constructed, it will essentially destroy the refuge, the official said. The proposed plans call for building a road south of the wall and clearing refuge land on either side of the wall for surveillance, cameras and light towers.
A spokesperson for CBP, Carlos Diaz, acknowledged that there have been preliminary meetings for projects designated in Trump’s 2017-18 budget request. “CBP has prioritized 28 miles of new levee wall system in Rio Grande Valley, 32 new miles of border wall system in the Rio Grande Valley, and 14 miles of replacement secondary barrier in San Diego,” Diaz wrote in an email.
Diaz would not confirm whether construction could begin in the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge as early as January 2018.
The federal official pointed out that the Department of Homeland Security may transfer money from within the agency to build the segment of border wall at the refuge if budget negotiations stall. But he also offered a caveat: “Everything is unpredictable with this presidency.”
Congressman Filemon Vela, a Democrat from Brownsville, said he and Congressman Bennie Thompson, the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Homeland Security, have requested a briefing from CBP on the matter.
“We’re going to come up with a plan and do everything we can to stop it,” Vela told the Observer. “The Rio Grande Valley isn’t rural Texas anymore. It’s a metropolis of 1.2 million people on this side of the river and 2 million on the other side. These refuges are sacred from an environmental standpoint. There’s so little protected land left and we need to do whatever we can to save it.
Before President Trump ever builds his “big, beautiful wall,” there could be a fortified virtual wall at the U.S.-Mexico border bristling with biometric technology.
In the coming months, 31 counties along and near the border — including more than a dozen in Texas — will deploy a system that can scan, catalogue and compare an individual’s iris data in jails or out on patrol with mobile, smartphone-based scanners, according to The Intercept.
The private company that built the system, Biometric Intelligence and Identification Technologies (BI2), has offered sheriffs’ departments along the border a free, three-year introductory trial of its IRIS biometric identification program. According to the company, the technology gives fewer false matches than fingerprinting.
Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio will be one of the first to use the scanner in his department’s day-to-day policing.
Lucio said the technology will help his deputies identify undocumented immigrants. “It’s not unusual for people caught illegally from Mexico to give fake names and date of births,” he told The Intercept. “But it doesn’t matter what you use if we have your features — your iris, your fingerprints. You can use a hundred different names. We still can say, ‘This is the guy.’”
But civil liberty experts say the technology could exacerbate racial profiling, giving law enforcement officers the ability to determine criminal history or citizenship with an instant scan. “In this country, we’ve long resisted being a ‘show me your papers’ society, but this moves us to that because you increasingly can’t avoid your identity being scooped up in public,” said Nathan Wessler, staff attorney with the Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project of the American Civil Liberties Union.
“Racial profiling is a serious concern, especially Latinos or people of color are at greater risk for iris checks simply for the color of their skin,” he told The Intercept.
Another fear is that all of the biometric data will automatically be stored by BI2 Technologies in its private database on a server in San Antonio. To make an identification, BI2’s program compares an individual’s iris against the more than 987,000 iris scans in its database, which collects images from over 180 law enforcement jurisdictions across the country. The database grows with each new scan.
The Department of Homeland Security already collects biometric information at ports of entry, including airports. But U.S. citizens’ information is discarded after making the verification, while non-citizens have their information stored for 75 years. With the implementation of this new border program, a private company will be able to amass an untold amount of sensitive biometric information — not just from undocumented immigrants but also from U.S. citizens.
The post Prying Eyes: Border Sheriffs to Use Iris-Scanning Tech in Push for ‘Virtual Wall’ appeared first on The Texas Observer.
Over the Wall
After a decade of living in the shadow of the border wall, people in the Rio Grande Valley are ready to move on.
But Donald Trump has other plans.
“Well, OK, I’ll talk to you,” Eloisa Tamez told me. “But you’re the last reporter I’m ever going to speak with.” It was late March, and CNN, NPR, the BBC and countless other media outlets had converged on the Rio Grande Valley to report on the “big, beautiful wall” that President Trump had promised to build. Tamez was one of the first people they sought out. For years she had been a leader of the landowner resistance in South Texas, speaking out often and eloquently against the folly of a wall.
Her activism began in 2007, the year after Congress passed the Secure Fence Act, authorizing up to 700 miles of border fence. At the time, Border Patrol agents were going house to house in Cameron County, asking landowners to sign over their land. Tamez, then an associate professor in the graduate school of nursing at the University of Texas at Brownsville, politely told them to get the hell off her property. No way was she going to allow them to ram a wall through her 3 acres on the Rio Grande without a fight.
Tamez filed a lawsuit and prevented the government from taking her land for more than a year. But in 2009, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed her case and construction began on the wall.
In 2014, she finally settled with the government, reluctantly accepting $56,000 for a quarter-acre of her land occupied by the wall. By the time Trump supporters began chanting “Build the Wall,” most Americans had forgotten that the southern border already had 670 miles of fencing and barriers, including 110 miles in Texas.
But there hasn’t been a day that Tamez and other border residents are not reminded of it. One-third of the 320 condemnation suits filed against landowners in 2007 are still pending a decade later. In recent months the Trump administration sent out a new round of condemnation letters to landowners, in anticipation of Congress funding Trump’s proposal to build 34 miles of wall in the Valley.
And so the reporters had come to South Texas. For months Tamez had demonstrated for the TV crews how she punches in a passcode to open a massive gate in the wall that lets her pass from one part of her land to the other. She explained how her land was once part of a 12,000-acre Spanish grant deeded to her ancestors by the king of Spain before the United States even existed. She posed in front of the wall looking defiant. It made for great TV. But now, like so many other border residents, Tamez just wanted to be left alone. She was tired of America’s fears and obsessions with its southern border. Tamez was suffering from border security fatigue.
As I drove west from Brownsville toward Tamez’s home in the small community of El Calaboz, the hulking wall came into view, snaking through backyards past barbecue pits and swing sets. The wall couldn’t be built on the banks of the Rio Grande because a U.S.-Mexico treaty prohibits development in the flood plain. The river spills over its banks from time to time, and a fence could push floodwaters into communities on both sides. So, instead, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) erected some segments as far as a mile inland from the Rio Grande. The wall cuts through the center of the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley and bisects neighborhoods and city parks. And some U.S. landowners live south of the barrier in a sort of no-man’s land.
Tamez greets me at the door of her modest home with a smile. She has a youthful energy and wears a colorful blouse that matches her turquoise and yellow reading glasses. At 82, Tamez still goes to work every day at the university. The walls of her living room are covered with framed black-and-white family photos. One of them shows her parents, young and smiling, tilling the soil to plant crops. In another photo, a young Tamez and her siblings gather around their mother under the shade of a mesquite tree, not far from where the wall stands today.
When the 5th Circuit declined to hear her appeal, Tamez said, it broke her heart. “My lawyer told me, ‘You can stop fighting. They’ve already taken the land,’” she said.
Afterward, Tamez used part of the $56,000 in compensation to create a scholarship fund for graduate nursing students. Tamez named the endowment after her parents. She also decided to offer her home as a basecamp for researchers examining the effects of militarization and the wall on border communities.
“People will sometimes come up to me at Sam’s or Walmart to congratulate me,” Tamez said. “Though I didn’t really win anything. I lost my land. But they think I won.” Tamez smiled wryly. “I don’t tell them anything different. I think it’s because they read about the scholarship fund in the newspaper. That’s what people remember. And I’m proud I’ve been able to turn something negative into something positive that is going to help our community.”
Tamez said she suspects the fight between landowners and the DHS will be even more protracted and bitter this time. The cheapest, most accessible places are already taken. At least 35 percent of the U.S.-Mexico border already has a barrier, mostly in New Mexico, Arizona and California. If Trump is to build hundreds of miles of new border wall, much of it will have to be along Texas’ 1,250-mile border with Mexico, including rugged terrain traversing Big Bend National Park and the vast expanses of Falcon Lake and Amistad Reservoir. At least 95 percent of the Texas border is privately owned.
It was Tamez who, in 2008, had first opened my eyes to a disturbing fact about the wall’s construction: It seemed to be bypassing the wealthy and the politically connected while targeting those who could least afford to fight the federal government in court. Tamez questioned why her land had been condemned while the Riverbend Resort, a gated community and golf course two miles down the road, had not. In 2008, my article “Holes in the Wall” showed how an army of subcontractors working for the Boeing Company, which had the multibillion dollar contract to oversee construction of the wall, appeared to be passing over properties owned by wealthy landowners in favor of land owned by working-class families.
Tamez says she sees some justice in the possibility of Trump’s wall being built on the property of the wealthy who avoided it last time.
“Go ahead and fill in the holes in the wall,” Tamez said. “Because those belong to the wealthy. We’ll see if they build it through the Riverbend Resort this time, but I doubt it.”
Tamez said she was recently invited to a congressional hearing on Trump’s wall, but turned down the invitation. “I’m not going to be part of that spectacle anymore,” she said.
She’d rather have lawmakers meet her on her own turf, she said, not in Washington, D.C., or as part of a carefully scripted tour with local elected officials and business leaders. “My story is a real story about what this barrier and these government policies have done to me as an ordinary citizen,” she said. “I want them to walk the land with me and understand. But they never come here.”
After visiting with Tamez, I traveled 50 miles west to meet with Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia in his expansive office near the courthouse in Edinburg. If Tamez and her neighbors in Cameron County took the most direct hit from Bush’s wall, it is Hidalgo County that is likely to be one of Trump’s first targets. When I talked to Garcia in March, he was in the midst of controversy. In February, he’d sent a letter to John Kelly, Trump’s Homeland Security secretary, inviting the administration to convert 28 miles of earthen flood levee along the Rio Grande into a concrete barrier topped with a steel fence. The structure, he argued, could do double duty as a border wall and river levee.
Garcia’s invitation outraged many of his constituents, who saw it as an unnecessary, or at least premature, capitulation to an administration that had disparaged the border, Latinos and immigrants.
He explained to me that his letter was merely pragmatic politics. The wall is inevitable, Garcia said, and the county should get the best deal it can. “I personally don’t see any way of stopping it,” he said. “If they want to do it, they’re going to do it.”
In 2008, then-County Judge J.D. Salinas had made a similar calculation, offering Homeland Security the then-novel idea of a 22-mile levee wall. At the time, DHS was planning to build an 18-foot fence north of the levee, which meant razing homes that stood in the way. But that was an expensive proposition, not to mention bad optics in the media, so DHS seized on Salinas’ idea. There was just one caveat: Hidalgo County — one of the poorest in the nation — would have to kick in $44 million toward construction. Though the county tapped its drainage improvement fund to pay for the levee wall, U.S. Senator John Cornyn, who had voted for the Secure Fence Act, assured Salinas and other county leaders he would get Congress to pay them back. But the bills Cornyn introduced to reimburse Hidalgo County never passed.
This time, Garcia offered to chip in $38 million, 10 percent of the proposed $380 million project, with the understanding that it would probably never be reimbursed. In his letter to DHS, Garcia helpfully included new plans drafted by Dannenbaum Engineering, the firm that made millions building the 22 miles of levee wall nearly a decade ago. (In late April, the FBI raided local government offices in the Laredo area as well as four Dannenbaum offices across Texas in an operation that the FBI has said very little about, to date.)
While Garcia sought middle ground with the Trump administration, other elected leaders were vocal about their hatred of the wall. One Democratic congressman from nearby Brownsville, Filemon Vela, made headlines last year with his open letter calling Trump a “racist” and telling him, “You can take your border wall and shove it up your ass.”
A month after our visit, Garcia and the Hidalgo County commissioners, under pressure from constituents, reversed course on the levee-wall idea altogether, writing another letter to DHS — this time emphasizing their opposition to any kind of wall.
It may be too late. In its proposed budget, the White House asked Congress to fund the construction of 28 miles of “new levee wall barriers” in Hidalgo County. Though the stopgap budget that Congress passed in early May doesn’t contain funding for the levee wall, the idea is unlikely to go away.
Garcia’s change of heart was in part the handiwork of Scott Nicol, a McAllen artist, teacher and activist. There is probably no one better versed in South Texas’ border walls than the 47-year-old Nicol. Over the last decade, he’s made a careful study of the Secure Fence Act, poring over contracts and submitting voluminous open records requests for government documents.
Shortly after Garcia sent his first letter capitulating to the Trump administration, Nicol wrote an op-ed in the McAllen newspaper, the Monitor, pointing out that if Congress were to fund the project, DHS would be digging up 28 miles of earthen levee that had just been repaired with $220 million in federal stimulus money.
In late March, Nicol, who is co-chair of the Sierra Club Borderlands Team, took me on a tour of the levee wall that was built in 2009, so I could see its effect on the local environment. “The whole project is just a huge waste of money, and devastating for the wildlife,” Nicol told me as I followed him along a gravel trail behind the Old Hidalgo Pumphouse. The pumphouse, which used to draw river water for farm fields, now houses a museum that anchors a nature preserve and several acres of wetlands connected to the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge, in turn, is part of a riparian wildlife corridor that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has acquired piecemeal over the last 30 years at a cost of more than $70 million.
The 18-foot levee cuts through the wildlife corridor for 22 miles and seals off the river, a vital source of water, from wildlife stuck north of the wall. If the Trump administration builds another 28 miles of levee wall, the same would happen in the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge and Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park. In Nicol’s view, the wall would ruin much of what’s left of the Valley’s natural habitat. Even without the wall, conservationists were in a race against time.
Today, most of the Rio Grande Valley looks like Southern California with its traffic-choked expressways, strip malls and fast food restaurants. At least 95 percent of the native habitat has already been developed or farmed. And the wildlife corridor is increasingly vulnerable, especially with DHS’ “force multipliers” of surveillance cameras, Border Patrol vehicles and walls. This subtropical riparian sliver is one of the most biologically diverse areas left in the country. It’s the northernmost territory for the endangered jaguarundi, ocelot and other species.
In 2006, the Hidalgo pumphouse became part of the World Birding Center, an ambitious project to encourage birders and other nature lovers to visit the region. Every year, thousands of bird watchers come looking for buff-bellied hummingbirds and great kiskadees, species that can’t be seen anywhere else in North America. Economists at Texas A&M University estimate that birders generate more than $340 million a year for the regional economy. From Roma to South Padre Island, cities along the border collaborated to invest more than $60 million in observation areas, wetlands and native plant restoration to promote ecotourism. The state also invested at least $1 million in the effort. But in 2008, two years after the Hidalgo pumphouse reopened as a museum, DHS began construction on the levee wall just behind it, severing it from a 4-mile hike and bike trail through the wildlife corridor.
I followed Nicol a mile east of the museum to the end of the levee wall, where two Border Patrol SUVs idled, the agents waiting to nab anyone who might come across the river.
After Trump was elected president, Nicol started getting calls from reporters from all over the world on their way to the Rio Grande Valley to write about Trump’s wall. Nicol was one of the only people in the Valley who hadn’t grown tired of talking to the media yet. “The first thing you have to explain is that the Texas-Mexico border is a river,” he said. “And then you have to explain that the wall is not on the river.”
The agents in the SUVs looked away as we walked around the edge of the levee wall and down a dirt road heavily rutted by the Border Patrol vehicles that patrol between the wall and the Rio Grande, a half-mile away. Mesquite, ebony and wispy huisache trees dusted with yellow flowers formed a dense canopy. A javelina rooted through the underbrush, then fled as we walked south on the abandoned trail toward the river.
Nicol reminded me that there were surveillance cameras all around us, some owned by the state, some by the feds. There were also ground sensors. We were in the United States, on land managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, but it felt like we were trespassing. The terrain was beautiful but neglected. Trees had toppled onto the asphalt trail and we had to fight our way through vines and brush. Hiking through this forgotten zone, I had the sensation of America recoiling from the Rio Grande and taking shelter behind its wall.
We bushwhacked for nearly a mile until we came out again at the rutted dirt road. One of the Border Patrol SUVs came speeding toward us, trailing a white cloud of dust. Nicol stopped and I followed his lead as we waited for the vehicle to reach us. “We tripped a ground sensor,” Nicol said. He was used to these kinds of encounters. I was apprehensive.
The agent rolled down his window. “What are y’all doing out here?” he asked.
“Just hiking the trail,” Nicol said, nonchalantly.
The agent sized us up for a moment. “All right,” he finally said, nodding, then rolled the window up and sped away.
“I’m pretty sure DHS has a file on me,” Nicol said, smiling. “A really thick one.”
No city in Hidalgo County has grown faster or become more economically prosperous than McAllen — largely due to its trade with Mexico. But the repeated border bashing from Washington has started to threaten McAllen’s hard-fought prosperity. I met up with Jim Darling, the mayor of McAllen, early one morning after he’d participated in a groundbreaking ceremony for a new shopping center. We had coffee at a recently opened Corner Bakery Cafe across from a brand-new Best Buy off Expressway 83.
Like Tamez, Mayor Darling said he was fed up with doing interviews about border security and the wall. The issue had become so polarized, Darling said, he wasn’t going to continue to lend his face to the media circus.
“It didn’t matter what side of the media I was talking to, they had a presumed message already. I got tired of it. We’re fighting this image that doesn’t depict who we really are,” he said, cradling a cup of coffee in his hand. “When we do surveys of the top 10 concerns for our residents, the No. 1 concern is traffic congestion, and security is like No. 8.”
For years, the city of McAllen — which has a population close to 140,000, “but more like 250,00 during the day,” Darling said, because of shoppers from Mexico — has had an economy that’s outpaced many other parts of the state. “We’re a poster child of NAFTA,” Darling said. Every year his city sends $200 million or more in sales tax to Austin, but gets little love in return. Instead, McAllen and other border communities are often used as a photo op for politicians talking tough on border security for their constituents back home. “Talking down on the border wins votes in Beaumont or Duluth,” Darling said.
Many Americans imagine the border as a desert, devoid of people other than human traffickers and drug smugglers — an image often reinforced by politicians: John McCain talking tough in a 2010 re-election ad with an Arizona sheriff as they strolled past a border fence and dusty vistas. McCain: “Complete the dang fence!” Sheriff: “It’ll work this time.”
Or former Governor Rick Perry and Fox host Sean Hannity in 2014 looking tough for Fox viewers in backward baseball caps and wrap-around sunglasses on an armored DPS gun boat with enough horsepower to reach Veracruz by morning.
And then there’s Donald Trump, who in a July 2015 visit was accompanied by an oversized security entourage that tailed him around town as he congratulated himself on having the courage to come to “dangerous” Laredo.
Governor Rick Perry, Mission, July 2014.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Flickr
Governor Greg Abbott, Weslaco, February 2017.
State Representative Lois Kolkhorst, Rio Grande, September 2014.
U.S. Representative Ted Poe, Rio Grande, October 2014.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, Anzalduas Park, February 2017.
John McCain TV ad
Senator John McCain, Nogales, Arizona, May 2010.
Since Trump’s inauguration, a steady stream of congressional leaders has been visiting McAllen to get a look at “Ground Zero,” as Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently called the border, painting it as a hellscape rife with “filth” and head-chopping cartels. Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, was still a topic of conversation among McAllen residents a month after his visit, because he’d opted for something a little different on his tour: hopping on a Border Patrol horse, which then bolted toward the river with panicked agents in pursuit. Afterward, Ryan tweeted a short video of himself on his mount, seemingly to prove he’d always been in control. Dozens of protesters had gathered along the street as his motorcade passed. Ryan didn’t stop.
Darling is so familiar with the border photo op that he is practically a connoisseur. “Typically, the Republicans like to ride on the river, and the Democrats go to the detention centers,” he said.
But the visitors often find it jarring when they learn that the lawless border they’ve heard so much about in Washington, D.C., is actually pretty pleasant.
There was the time in late February when Senator John Cornyn came down with Republican senators from Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Nevada for a ride-along with the Border Patrol on the river. They were standing on the dock in their life preservers, ready to get on the boat, when one of the senators noticed an amusement park full of children on the other side of the river.
“He asked what it was,” Darling said. “And I told him it’s an amusement park in Mexico. He started taking pictures of it. He was amazed.”
Another time, Darling was out on the Rio Grande with visiting dignitaries, all under the watch of heavily armed federal agents, when a party boat from Reynosa, Mexico, floated by. “They were dancing and drinking and waving,” Darling said, smiling. “It was pretty funny.”
Darling blamed the media for depicting his town as a crisis zone. Pushing back, I asked him about all the “war on the border” rhetoric coming out of Washington and Austin. What were visiting reporters supposed to think when they arrived at the park where politicians typically embarked on their river tours? As a reporter, I know the place well. It’s a county park with playgrounds and barbecue pits. But no one goes there anymore. Like the nature trails behind the Hidalgo pumphouse, it’s bristling with surveillance and a long line of DPS squad cars parked near the dock. Then there are the armored DPS boats outfitted with .30-caliber guns that wouldn’t look out of place in the Suez Canal. The park had become another border security sacrifice zone where no one ventured except for police and federal agents.
Darling listened politely, but said it was still the media’s fault. He especially blamed George Stephanopoulos, the former Democratic adviser and now anchor of America’s top morning TV show, Good Morning America. During the 2014 Central American migrant exodus, Stephanopoulos potrayed Darling ’s city as a place under siege. Darling found that hard to forgive.
“Stephanopoulos called it a crisis on the border,” Darling said. “But the crisis was in Central America, that’s why the families were leaving. The crisis wasn’t here. Mexican migration was at net zero when the Central Americans started coming in 2014,” he said. “And they were asking for asylum, so they weren’t technically illegal, and I think we handled it well.” (The city of McAllen and Hidalgo County spent more than $480,000 helping the families and were never reimbursed by the federal or state governments.)
“But now middle America believed the border was in crisis, and being overrun by Mexicans, and we needed a border wall to stop them,” Darling said. “And that’s how we got into this mess we’re in now.”
I brought up Darling’s recent letter to the DHS secretary, which, like Garcia’s letter, supported the idea of a levee wall. “No one likes a wall down here,” he said. “But building a wall was Trump’s defining moment during his campaign, so we figure he’s going to get it built no matter what.”
All of Trump’s negative rhetoric and the talk of building the wall and making Mexico pay for it had already damaged McAllen economically, he said. In the wealthy Mexican industrial city of Monterrey, 150 miles south of the border, “McAlleando” was popular slang for “shopping.” But now, Mexican shoppers already reeling from the devalued peso were encouraging their fellow consumers to boycott McAllen in a social media campaign called #AdiosMcAllen.
“We’ll probably be down $3 million-plus this year in sales tax revenue,” Darling said.
To stop the economic slide, the city is investing thousands of dollars in advertising to encourage Mexicans to come back to McAllen.
“We are friends,” Darling said. “And they are always welcome here.”
But what words could make up for a wall? With much of the southern border already behind a wall, only Texas remains. The Rio Grande Valley is first on Trump’s list.
Before I’d left Tamez, I asked if she had any advice for the next wave of landowners who will be targeted by DHS. “Ask questions,” she said. “And write every single detail down that they tell you. And think long and hard about what it will cost you in the long term, after they take your land away. I didn’t have much, but what they took from me no amount of money could have ever replaced.”
President Donald J. Trump has made no secret of his dislike for NAFTA, which he’s often pilloried as the “worst deal ever” and a “total disaster.”
Many Mexican factory workers would probably agree with Trump on one point: The North American Free Trade Agreement is a bad deal.
“We hope he’ll renegotiate it,” said Julia Quin?onez, coordinator of the Border Committee of Women Workers in Piedras Negras, Mexico, during a binational forum on border issues at the University of Texas at Austin in April. “When they first signed NAFTA it was promised that it would benefit workers and Mexico would enter the First World, but it was a total lie. What we saw instead was a huge increase in the cost of living, and stagnant wages.”
At the forum, Quin?onez was joined by three women who work in foreign-owned maquiladoras on the Mexican border.
With the devaluation of the peso last year, workers’ wages plummeted, said Quin?onez. “People don’t want to work in the maquilas, and then they have no remedy but to migrate.”
Bob Cash, a former factory worker and now state director of the Texas Fair Trade Coalition, said at the forum that he’d been struggling for years to get the media and policymakers to talk about the problems with NAFTA, only to have Trump thrust the issue back into the spotlight by accusing Mexican workers of stealing American jobs.
“What NAFTA actually did in Mexico was throw 2 million farm families off their farms, many of them forced to come to the U.S. to find work to feed their families,” Cash said.
Cash said he was initially thrilled to be invited on C-SPAN recently to talk about NAFTA, only to be alarmed by the end of the program. “Folks called in and most of the responses were racist,” he said. “It was, ‘We need to get out of NAFTA completely, build a wall and kick out all of the Mexicans because they’re stealing all of our jobs.’”
During the NAFTA negotiations in the early ’90s, U.S. negotiators got nearly everything they wanted, while their Mexican counterparts didn’t, said Cash. “It’s not like the Mexicans snuck across the border and into U.S. boardrooms and made these decisions to send jobs south,” he said.
None of the members of the forum was particularly hopeful that Trump would go to bat for working people, American or Mexican, if NAFTA were renegotiated. Cash said his mission was to convince his fellow white Americans — many of whom were under the sway of Trump’s rhetoric — that a fair trade agreement should include a living wage, as well as better safety and environmental standards for Mexican and American workers. “NAFTA hasn’t been good for workers in the U.S., Canada or Mexico,” he said. “But it has been good for a small slice of the economic elites in all of those countries.”
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