Jay Root Reporter

Jay Root is a native of Liberty. He never knew any reporters growing up, and he has never taken a journalism class in his life. But somehow he got hooked on the news business. It all started when Root walked into the offices of The Daily Texan, his college newspaper, during his last year at the University of Texas in 1987. He couldn't resist the draw: it was the biggest collection of misfits ever assembled. After graduating, he took a job at a Houston chemical company and soon realized it wasn't for him. Root applied for an unpaid internship at the Houston Post in 1990, and it turned into a full-time job that same year. He has been a reporter ever since. Root has covered natural disasters, live music and Texas politics — not necessarily in that order. He was Austin bureau chief of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for a dozen years, most of them good. He also covered politics and the Legislature for The Associated Press before joining the staff of the Tribune.Root is the author of “Oops! A Diary From The 2012 Campaign Trail,” an insider’s account of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s dramatic collapse in the 2012 presidential race. The book was released in September, 2012.

Recent Contributions

Travis County sheriff's race likely to bring immigration policy shift

Travis County Constable Sally Hernandez is running for Travis County sheriff as a Democrat vowing to "get ICE out of Austin," meaning the local jail will no longer cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, making Austin the first true "sanctuary city" in the state.
Travis County Constable Sally Hernandez is running for Travis County sheriff as a Democrat vowing to "get ICE out of Austin," meaning the local jail will no longer cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, making Austin the first true "sanctuary city" in the state.

Democrat Sally Hernandez was cruising toward easy victory in the race for Travis County sheriff. It's likely to put her in the crosshairs of the Texas Legislature, where top Republicans are promising to ban "sanctuary city" policies. 

U.S.-funded programs try to convince Central Americans to stay home

A student presents her answers to gang related questions in an El Salvador elementary school workbook. "What have you heard recently about gangs and violence?" the question asks. "That there are a lot of murders" reads the student's response.
A student presents her answers to gang related questions in an El Salvador elementary school workbook. "What have you heard recently about gangs and violence?" the question asks. "That there are a lot of murders" reads the student's response.

The United States is helping fund anti-gang initiatives and jobs programs in Central America, trying to decrease the flow of migrants heading north for the Texas-Mexico border. 

Mexico fights illegal immigration on its own southern border

Rafts made of inflatable tires and wooden slats ferry people and goods across the Suchiate River separating Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, and Tecun Uman, Guatemala, with the international bridge connecting the two countries in the background.
Rafts made of inflatable tires and wooden slats ferry people and goods across the Suchiate River separating Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, and Tecun Uman, Guatemala, with the international bridge connecting the two countries in the background.

Under pressure from the United States, Mexico has tried to cut down the flow of Central American immigrants passing through on their way to the southern U.S. border.

Hiding in Austin, a former El Salvador policeman seeks asylum

A Policia Nacional Civil patrol in the 22 de Abril neighborhood of Soyapango, just outside of San Salvador, El Salvador. The neighborhood is known to be controlled by the Mara Salvatrucha gang.
A Policia Nacional Civil patrol in the 22 de Abril neighborhood of Soyapango, just outside of San Salvador, El Salvador. The neighborhood is known to be controlled by the Mara Salvatrucha gang.

After years of trying to help control El Salvador's violent gangs, the danger became too great for the former detective and his family.

To Die or to Leave: Migrants Flee the Murder Capital of the World

Meet some of the Central Americans who are fleeing violence and abject poverty at home, only to endure shakedowns and abuse on their way to an uncertain future in the United States. This mini-documentary is part of our Bordering on Insecurity project.

 

Meet some of the Central Americans who are fleeing violence and abject poverty at home, only to endure shakedowns and abuse on their way to an uncertain future in the United States. This mini-documentary is part of our Bordering on Insecurity project.

 

Gang Wars, Poverty Driving Central Americans Over U.S. Border

The body of an alleged gang member following a shootout in Ayagualo, El Salvador, in May 2016 that police say began when one of their patrols was ambushed.
The body of an alleged gang member following a shootout in Ayagualo, El Salvador, in May 2016 that police say began when one of their patrols was ambushed.

The challenge of securing the southern U.S. border is changing dramatically as fewer Mexicans cross illegally, but more Central Americans arrive seeking refuge from the terror and chaos of their home countries.

Austin Poised to Become First "Sanctuary City" In Texas

Travis County Constable Sally Hernandez is running for Travis County sheriff as a Democrat vowing to "get ICE out of Austin," meaning the local jail will no longer cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, making Austin the first true "sanctuary city" in the state.
Travis County Constable Sally Hernandez is running for Travis County sheriff as a Democrat vowing to "get ICE out of Austin," meaning the local jail will no longer cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, making Austin the first true "sanctuary city" in the state.

With the likely election of a new Democratic sheriff in November, Austin is poised to become the first true “sanctuary city” in GOP-ruled Texas if Travis County stops cooperating with federal immigration policies.

In Beheading Case, Focus Shifts to Cartel Ties of Border Patrol Agent's Brother

The Luna brothers, including Border Patrol agent Joel (center), were indicted on capital murder and organized crime charges in the 2015 beheading death of a Honduran immigrant. Eldest brother Fernando (right) struck a deal with prosecutors on Aug. 25, 2016, and the most serious charges against him were dropped. Now the focus has shifted to the alleged Gulf Cartel ties of youngest brother Eduardo (left).
The Luna brothers, including Border Patrol agent Joel (center), were indicted on capital murder and organized crime charges in the 2015 beheading death of a Honduran immigrant. Eldest brother Fernando (right) struck a deal with prosecutors on Aug. 25, 2016, and the most serious charges against him were dropped. Now the focus has shifted to the alleged Gulf Cartel ties of youngest brother Eduardo (left).

New disclosures in the capital murder case involving a U.S. Border Patrol agent point to the central role allegedly played by the agent's younger brother, described in court papers as a Gulf Cartel “commander.”