News Roundup: There’s Dangerous Overcrowding At Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol Facilities

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelJuly 3, 2019 12:50 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

Federal officials say there’s dangerous overcrowding at Border Patrol facilities in the Rio Grande Valley. The Office of Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security visited five of those sites last month. Texas Public Radio’s Reynaldo Leanos Jr. reports:

The report says children at three of the five facilities didn’t have access to showers, and had limited access to a change of clothes.

Senior managers at several facilities had security concerns for their agents and the detainees. One of them told inspectors that the situation is “a ticking time bomb.”

Inspectors had to end one of their tours early because detainees started banging on cell windows and pushing papers up against the glass to show how long they had been detained.

Texas lawmakers will redraw the state’s political boundaries in 2021 following the results of the upcoming United States census.

The Texas Legislature determines the districts for the members of the Texas House of Representatives and Senate, and for Texas members of the U.S. Congress.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has now appointed members of the Texas Senate’s bipartisan Redistricting Committee.

State Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa is vice chair of the committee. The McAllen Democrat says lawmakers will hold a series of public hearings to get feedback on potential boundary lines.

“I think it’s an opportunity for citizens to voice their concern and bring up other issues before the committee to consider when we are redrawing the district lines,” Hinojosa says.

Hinojosa adds that a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision could have a big impact on the redistricting process in Texas. That ruling found partisan gerrymandering is beyond the scope of federal courts.

“It’s a greenlight to whichever party is in power or has the majority of members. This is not a Republican issue or a Democratic issue. In other states where Democrats are in charge, they do the same thing Republicans do. And we have to be careful because we need to really take a balanced approach to draw districts that really reflect our communities,” Hinojosa says.

Texas has long faced scrutiny over its political maps.

The state may even need federal approval for future maps. That’s because a few years ago, courts found Texas officials intentionally discriminated against racial minorities when redrawing maps in 2011.

A federal appeals court has rejected a request from the Texas attorney general’s office to delay a hearing on the state’s challenge to the Affordable Care Act.

Texas has already cleared one hurdle in its long-running attempt to overturn the law. At the end of last year, a Fort Worth judge sided with Texas and ruled the ACA unconstitutional because Congress zeroed out the tax penalty for the individual mandate.

Texas asked the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals for 20 extra days to prepare materials for the case, originally due Wednesday. The judges gave the state until Friday.