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The Brief: Hundreds in Tornillo protest “zero tolerance” policy; ”red flag” gun measure gets renewed attention; Texas GOP approves #txlege priorities

In today's Brief: A roundup of news on the national immigration debate, a House panel will meet this month to consider whether Texas needs a "red flag" law and a recap of the state GOP convention.

Marchers head towards the tent city at Tornillo Port of Entry to protest the tent city erected there to house children separated from their parents at the border.

"Zero tolerance policy" 

The national debate over immigration policy continued to dominate news over the weekend. Here's a look at what happened in Texas since our last update on Friday: 

There was a Father's Day march in Tornillo, a West Texas city that's now housing a federal detention center for unaccompanied immigrant minors. Just days after the shelter opened near El Paso, protesters gathered there to target the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy of separating immigrant children from parents seeking asylum. The march, led by U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-El Paso, and congressional candidate Veronica Escobar, drew hundreds — including lawmakers, political candidates and members of the faith-based community. (We made a Twitter moment of the event, which the Tribune's Julián Aguilar and Ivan Pierre Aguirre photographed.) 

Some Texas faith leaders criticized the administration's "zero tolerance" policy during their Sunday sermons, according to the Tribune's Emma Platoff. One churchgoer in Fort Worth said his pastor referred congregants to Leviticus 19:33, which instructs, "When a foreigner resides among you in you land, do not mistreat them." Other faith leaders say the issue of family separation isn't a political one — it's a humanitarian and moral crisis.

A shelter for immigrant children separated from their parents is being considered for downtown Houston, the Houston Chronicle's Lomi Kriel reported over the weekend. The vacant warehouse — which once housed homeless women and families as well as adults displaced by Hurricane Harvey — would reportedly serve up to 240 children up to age 17. 

Former first lady Laura Bush came out against the administration's policy. "It breaks my heart," she wrote in an op-ed published in The Washington Post on Sunday evening. "People on all sides agree that our immigration system isn’t working, but the injustice of zero tolerance is not the answer."

"Red flag" law

As part of his response to last month’s mass shooting at Santa Fe High School, Gov. Greg Abbott has suggested exploring what’s known as a “red flag” law to let local officials take guns away from folks who are declared a danger by a judge — while attempting to stay in line with their Second Amendment rights.

But similar bills have died before at the Texas Legislature. And as more states have adopted similar legislation in the wake of mass shootings, some gun rights advocates have already denounced Abbott’s idea over concerns that the measure could place too much power with "a vengeful relative" and give judges free range to decide who’s an “imminent threat.”

For your radar: The House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee is scheduled to hold its first hearing on June 25 to explore whether the state needs its own red flag law — and, if so, how it should be written.

Texas GOP convention

Texas Republicans wrapped up their biennial state party convention in San Antonio over the weekend. Some highlights:

  • Delegates charted out party priorities for the 2019 legislative session, which again included a proposal to abolish abortion, a “constitutional carry” measure to let Texans carry a handgun without a permit and “bathroom bill” language that would regulate which restrooms transgender Texans can use. Delegates also approved a 331-plank, 30-page party platform.
  • Convention attendees found unity on President Donald Trump — but intraparty tensions still flared. Speakers at the gathering, like Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, took turns praising the president during their speeches. But a bitter race for Texas GOP chair, along with a couple debates over censuring Republican officeholders earlier in the week, showcased divisions within the party.
  • James Dickey won re-election as chairman of the Texas GOP. Dickey defeated longtime party activist Cindy Asche after an hours-long and bitter fight on the convention floor, getting support from 65 percent of the delegates’ votes to Asche’s 35 percent.

Best of the Trib

  • U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz defeated late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel in their much-hyped one-on-one basketball game over the weekend. The game is scheduled to air tonight on Kimmel's show. 
  • Texas Republicans considered vulnerable in their re-election bids to Congress this fall are taking different approaches to the immigration debate that has returned to Capitol Hill. 

Best of the rest

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Photo of the day

Hundreds of demonstrators protest the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy on June 17, 2018, in Tornillo days after a facility there opened to house children separated from their parents seeking asylum. Photo by Ivan Pierre Aguirre for The Texas Tribune. 

 Quote of the day

"You’re a good sport. I still think you’re a terrible senator."

— Jimmy Kimmel to Ted Cruz after completing their one-on-one basketball game in Houston

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