The Deporter in Chief
The Central American countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala are ruled by brutal gangs like Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, and the 18th Street Gang that make the impoverished region one of the most dangerous places on earth.
Naturally, people know they have to leave to escape the violence and keep their children from being victims of the lawlessness or being sucked into the gangs.
Starting in 2014, Texas began to see waves — or as former Governor Rick Perry described it, a surge — of refugees making their way to the Lone Star State from Central America. Many of those people were women and children.
In the Fiscal Year 2015, President Barack Obama deported 235,413 undocumented immigrants; 41 percent of deportees were non-criminal, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement statistics. And the Deporter in Chief already has big plans for 2016.
According to the website Vox, since January 2014, 100,000 families — mostly mothers with their kids — have arrived from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador seeking asylum. These are the people who will be deported.
Jonathan Ryan, executive director of the nonprofit Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), says that 78 percent of families released from detention between July 18, 2014, and September 29, 2015, have been given deportation orders, with 63 percent of those orders coming in absentia.
"The Obama Administration is setting up these families for deportation by releasing them with little to no information about their continuing legal responsibilities and creating insurmountable barriers to accessing counsel. We know the vast majority of families who are represented by counsel are successful in their cases," Ryan says. "Let us be clear, the families that the Administration plans to raid and deport are those that are legitimate asylum seekers who have not had the legal means to proceed with their cases, and will surely be deported to the very violence that they escaped."
Harming the Hurt
On June 12, 2015, Texas Governor Greg Abbott proudly signed HB 3994, a law that targeted one of the most vulnerable populations in the state: pregnant teenagers who have horrible parents or are in tragic situations.
The legislation amends what is called judicial bypass, under which a minor girl can seek permission from a judge to circumvent parental permission to have an abortion in situations when parents are missing, deported, dead, in prison, abusive or addicted to drugs.
According to Jane's Due Process, a nonprofit that assists pregnant teenagers in Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court says the process must be anonymous, expeditious and provide an effective opportunity for an abortion.
Texas, continuing its war against Planned Parenthood and women's health, amended the judicial bypass process in 2015. It removes deadlines for a judge to rule on requests; requires girls to give a judge their name, address and phone number, destroying anonymity and violating confidentiality of the process; and insists that minors must file for judicial bypass in their home counties.
While an advisory committee to the Texas Supreme Court had offered recommendations to make the rule more useful for courts and clients, the high court rejected those recommendations.
The new rules took effect January 1.
Investigating a Texas Icon
Yes, Blue Bell ice cream is returning to stores across the state. The deadly Listeria outbreak that killed three is already a fading memory for sugar-loving Texans.
The Department of Justice, however, isn't so forgiving or ready to let bygones be bygones.
Last week, CBS News reported that the DOJ opened an investigation into the company to determine whether — and when — the company knew about its Listeria problems.
All the feds really have to do is revisit a May Centers for Disease Control report that found Blue Bell did know about Listeria in its facilities — as far back as 2010.
The DOJ's Consumer Protection Branch is investigating. Earlier this year, one of its investigations resulted in federal prison sentences for executives at the Peanut Corporation of America for a 2008-2009 Salmonella outbreak that made thousands of people sick and killed nine, Food Safety News reported.