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Cornyn Joins Call To Reform Cuban Immigration Policy

And for the first time since 1999, there is a Christmas Tree on the floor of the Texas Senate.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, held a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on May 12, 2015.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told reporters on Thursday he thinks it’s time to consider changing an immigration policy that allows Cubans to quickly establish legal status in the United States.

Currently, Cubans who arrive in the country via a land port are paroled into the country and allowed to apply for legal residency, commonly called a “green card,” after only a year while immigrants from other nations often wait several years longer.

“I think it is unfair and I think it does need to be reconsidered,” Cornyn said of the policy. “I think we ought to have an immigration policy that treats all countries the same.”

The current provision is part of an agreement reached during the Clinton Administration, known as the “wet foot/dry foot” policy. Under the policy, Cubans found at sea are sent home or to another country.

In fiscal year 2015, about 28,400 Cubans entered Texas through the Laredo field office of Customs and Border Protection, which extends from Del Rio to Brownsville. The figure represents an 82 percent jump from 2014, when 15,600 Cubans entered through the Laredo field office.

Immigration policy experts credit the recent surge to the ongoing efforts by the Obama administration to reestablish ties with the Castro regime after more than five decades of tension. That has many Cubans rushing to take advantage of the current provision before a possible change to the law.

Cornyn joins U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, in calling for a change to the policy, which he called a “Cold War relic.”

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U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-San Antonio, was tapped last week to deliver the weekly Republican address.

The freshman and former CIA agent discussed “House efforts to strengthen the Visa Waiver Program to help prevent foreign terrorists from entering the United States," according to a news release from Speaker Paul D. Ryan's office.

The address is a response to President Obama's weekly address that airs on radio and on the Internet.

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For the first time since 1999, there is a Christmas tree on the floor of the Texas Senate Chamber. The House floor has a tree every year, but Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who paid for the tree with campaign funds, told reporters last Friday that he wanted to bring some Christmas spirit to his side of the building.

"Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus — we have to remember what Christmas is truly all about for millions and millions and millions of Americans," Patrick said, as he hung an ornament depicting Mary and Joseph looking at Baby Jesus. "This is the smallest ball on the tree. And when Jesus came, he was the small infant that everyone was focused on."

Asked if Mary and Joseph's struggle to find shelter could be compared to the plight of Syrian refugees, Patrick declined to comment.

"I'm focused on Christmas, not politics, today," he said.

Here are some quick facts about the Senate Tree:

  • 24 feet tall (the House tree is 26 feet)
  • From Denison
  • Cost Patrick "about $500"

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Sylvester Turner received congratulations Sunday for his victory in the Houston mayoral runoff from Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

"As a member of the Texas House of Representatives, Mayor-Elect Turner has been a champion for consumer protections, affordable health care and quality education," Clinton, the former secretary of state, said in a statement. "He's pledged to continue the progress made under Mayor Annise Parker to rebuild Houston's infrastructure, protect public safety, defend the equal rights of all Houstonians, and help hard-working families get ahead."

"I'm looking forward to working with him to serve the people of Houston and the city they call home," Clinton added.

Turner eked out a win Saturday against former Kemah Mayor Bill King, beating the Republican-leaning businessman by just under 2 percentage points.

Clinton did not make an endorsement in the race, but Turner had the backing of President Barack Obama and the head of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

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