News Roundup: Homeland Security Says Change Needed After ‘Dangerous Overcrowding’ At El Paso Center

Here’s a look at headlines from around the state.

By Becky FogelJune 3, 2019 11:36 am

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan says the agency is taking steps to reduce overcrowding at federal immigration facilities.

McAleenan appeared on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday. His interview came just days after the DHS Inspector General found “dangerous overcrowding” and unsanitary conditions at an El Paso, Border Patrol processing facility. These findings were made during an unannounced inspection last month. There were as many as 900 migrants detained at the site, which has a maximum capacity of 125 people.

McAleenan told program host, Jake Tapper, current conditions are not appropriate.

“I could not agree more with IG’s findings that we need a solution and changes, and we have a solution on the table with congress,” McAleenan said. “We asked for 4.5 billion dollars, 3.3 of that is to take better care of children in federal custody for HHS – not for DHS, for Health and Human Services. So we need that funding from Congress – we need it immediately.”

The Inspector General report also found that at this same facility in El Paso, some detainees had been held in standing-room-only conditions for days or weeks. McAleenan says DHS plans to open temporary facilities in Arizona this month to help address overcrowding.

A statewide ban on red light traffic cameras will take effect this September. Gov. Greg Abbott shared a video of him signing the bill on Twitter over the weekend.

The legislation does include an amendment that lets cities keep operating the cameras until their vendor contracts expire.

Governor Abbott has until June 16 to sign or veto bills passed during the recently-adjourned 86th legislative session. If he chooses to neither sign nor veto a bill, it will still become law.

Former Texas Secretary of State David Whitley is back at work in the governor’s office, according to The Dallas Morning News.

If the name David Whitley sounds familiar, that’s because he was at the center of a flawed citizenship review of Texans on voter rolls.

Earlier this year, Whitley’s office sent local election officials a list of more than 90,000 people it suspected might not be citizens. Whitley, the state’s chief elections officer, asked officials to vet the list and possibly remove those names from voter rolls.

The list was compiled by flagging the names of people who at one point told the Texas Department of Public Safety they were not citizens and then also registered to vote within several years.

Immigrant rights and voting rights groups accused the state of intentionally targeting recently naturalized citizens, who have the right to vote.

Whitley resigned from the Secretary of State post right at the end of 86th Legislative Session. He had faced opposition from Democratic lawmakers in the Texas Senate and did not have votes to be confirmed.

Before his brief stint as Secretary of State, Whitley was a longtime aide to Gov. Abbott. He was rehired at an annual salary of over $200,000.