The Big Conversation
The Tribune’s Jay Root recently spent some time along the border in the Rio Grande Valley, reporting what he witnessed along the popular smuggling corridor for another dispatch in the Tribune’s ongoing “Bordering on Insecurity” project.
Multiple inflatable rafts on the water. Emotionally shaken kids in the back of Border Patrol vans. Dope worth a quarter-million dollars on the street, dumped on the river’s edge. Roadside apprehensions. People running, swimming and shouting obscenities in and alongside a river shared by two countries.
The Texas Tribune witnessed all that and more during an afternoon with a three-man public relations team from the U.S. Border Patrol in this heavily trafficked patch of borderland, where a surge of unaccompanied kids and families that began in 2014 keeps pushing apprehension numbers through the roof.
The arrival of unaccompanied children as well as families attempting to cross over has helped make this section the busiest along the border between this country and Mexico. Root reports that the number of apprehensions in the past fiscal year accounted for close to half of the total number recorded across the entire border.
The job of stopping the smugglers moving people and drugs across the border falls to agents like Jose Perales, who was Root's guide for the day. The pressures on agents are often not seen or understood by Americans, Perales told Root.
“We’re not the popular guys down here,” he says with a shrug. “But we’re not down here for a popularity contest.”
For another perspective on a day along the border, check out this photo slideshow.
Trib Must Reads
Bernie Sanders Unlikely to Flip Many Texas Superdelegates, by Abby Livingston — The Bernie Sanders campaign promises to put the screws to a special class of party elders known as superdelegates. But they've got their work cut out for them in Texas, where well-connected Clinton loyalists are so far not impressed.
State Workers Want Pensions to Keep Up with Times, by Jim Malewitz — Thousands of retired Texas state workers are essentially stuck in 2001. Though health care, food and pretty much everything else keep getting more expensive, their monthly pension checks haven’t budged.
Cruz Zeroes in on Delegates in U.S. Territories, by Patrick Svitek — Ted Cruz's campaign has quietly dispatched surrogates to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to woo delegates who could be critical to prevailing at a contested Republican National Convention.
Bernie Tiede Supporters Make Pitch for Leniency, by Johnathan Silver — Convicted murderer Bernie Tiede may have gunned down his victim, tossed her in a freezer and gone on with his life, but the brutal act in 1996 was an anomaly, his supporters said in court Wednesday.
Lawmakers Hear Litany of Foster Care Woes, by Edgar Walters — The state’s child welfare agency faces a $40 million budget shortfall, a critical shortage of good homes for foster children and overwhelming caseloads for staff, agency leaders told state lawmakers at a hearing on Wednesday.
Texas Ag Chief Wore Two Hats at Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, by Terri Langford and Jordan Rudner — As Texas agriculture events go, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo was a must-do for state Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller and his staff. But Miller had more than an industry interest. He also had a personal one.
Teacher Group Sues Over Plan to Tie Evaluations to Tests, by Kiah Collier — A teacher group filed a lawsuit Wednesday in an attempt to block the state from implementing a controversial system that for the first time ties assessments of educators to student performance on standardized tests.
Cruz Now Sees Contested Convention as Only Hope, by Patrick Svitek — After a bruising defeat in New York, Ted Cruz is officially retooling his outlook on how the Republican Party will pick its nominee.
The Day Ahead
• Tribune CEO Evan Smith sits down with Dawn Buckingham, candidate for Senate District 24, at the Austin Club. The breakfast time conversation begins at 8 a.m. and will be livestreamed for those unable to attend in person.
• Stuart Bowen Jr., inspector general of the Health and Human Services Commission, will update the Senate Health & Human Services Committee about his efforts to reform his office. Lawmakers meet at 9 a.m. in the Senate Chamber. The committee will also discuss the impact of the number of refugees moving to Texas.
Cornyn on Republican National Convention: ‘I wouldn’t miss it for the world’, The Dallas Morning News
Lewisville Test Score Woes May Signal Trouble to Come for ETS, Texas Observer
Records fight will head to court after phone plea, banquet invite fail, Austin American-Statesman
Texas Democrats see opportunity in Trump’s emergence, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
As flooding recedes, city and county struggle to assess damages, Houston Chronicle
More money, agency coordination among proposed fixes for foster care, Austin American-Statesman
Texas Water Development Board executive to head Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority, San Antonio Express-News
Officials watching 'high risk' dams after Houston storms, The Associated Press
Senators joust over raising Texas CPS workers’ pay vs. improving agency management, The Dallas Morning News
Native Groups Open New Front Against Border Coal Mine, Texas Observer
Quote to Note
“Republicans are in kind of a bind since their best hope for stopping Donald Trump is a guy who’s the lovechild of Joe McCarthy and Dracula.”
— U.S. Sen. Al Franken poking fun at Ted Cruz and the Republican Party during a variety show in Minnesota.
Today in TribTalk
With LGBT issues, Abbott must balance base and businesses, by Jim Henson and Joshua Blank — It is all but certain that the Legislature will resume efforts to pass “religious protection” measures next session. These efforts will pose challenges to Republican leaders attempting to keep the disparate elements that make up their party within the GOP tent — especially Gov. Greg Abbott.
News From Home
• On this week’s TribCast, The Tribune’s editor-in-chief Emily Ramshaw talks to Evan Smith, Ross Ramsey and Patrick Svitek about Ted Cruz’s third place finish in the New York primary and the latest drama swirling around Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller.
• Tickets for the 2016 Texas Tribune Festival are finally on sale, and we can't wait to tell you about all the amazing people we've confirmed as speakers and the ambitious panels we've pulled together. Click here for details on the first round of announced speakers.
Trib Events for the Calendar
• A Conversation on San Antonio & the Legislature: The Issues in the Interim on April 26 at the University of Texas at San Antonio
• A Symposium on the Texas Economy on April 29 at the University of Houston
• The Texas Tribune's third Texas-centric Trivia Night on May 1 at The Highball in Austin
• A Conversation on Mental Health Matters on May 10 at KLRU Studio 6A in Austin
• The Texas Tribune Festival on Sept. 23-25 at the University of Texas at Austin