News Roundup: Waco Activists Protest Border Family Separations

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelJuly 9, 2018 1:01 pm

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

Activists in Central Texas are calling on local officials to do more to protect immigrants and their rights.

Hope Mustakim, with the Waco Immigrants Alliance, explains they’re tackling the issue of family separation in the wake of the Trump Administration’s so-called zero tolerance policy. They stopped by the office of Texas Congressman Bill Flores, who represents the area.

“We are asking Bill Flores to work towards family reunification and outside of detention centers,” Mustakim says. “We know that there are many churches and organizations and even family members of the immigrants who are ready and willing to take them in and help them get settled in. So, we see that as the solution not further incarcerating them, especially by companies that are profiting off of it.”

In a statement last month, Flores said while the act of crossing the border should not be tolerated, he was working with fellow members of Congress to find a way for immigrant families to stay together until their cases are heard.

Mustakim explains they’re also trying to raise awareness about family separations within Waco, itself.

“We have one woman in particular, who is a longtime Waco resident and businesswoman,” Mustakim says. “Her name is Estela Fajardo, and she’s been in our Jack Harwell Detention Center in Waco for over two-and-a-half years without a day in court.”

Fajardo, who is an unauthorized immigrant, is a mother of four.

She was arrested in 2016 on felony charges of organized crime and conspiracy to commit burglary. The Texas Observer reports Fajardo was arrested after buying two TVs and jewelry from a pair of men who had apparently stolen the items. While she’s been detained, Fajardo says a guard sexually harassed and assaulted her. A previous McLennan County investigation found Fajardo’s allegations were unfounded.

Mustakim says that while the McLennan County Sheriff’s Department recently agreed to reopen the investigation, advocates want Rep. Flores to hold this law enforcement agency accountable.

“At this point we need Representative Flores to stand in the gap for her, and for him to call the Sheriff to be more transparent, and to have a conclusion for us that shows that he did interview the witnesses, and he did do everything he could to not only find out the truth but let Estela have her day in court finally,” Mustakim says.

Immigrant rights advocates delivered petitions related to Fajardo’s case to both Flores and the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office.

More South Texas residents are receiving requests from the federal government to survey their land for possible border wall construction.

One of those property owners is the mayor of Escobares, Texas. Mayor Noel Escobar spoke the CBS affiliate, Kens5, in San Antonio.

“I walk out the back door and what I’m going to see is a 30 foot fence,” Escobar says.

Texas congressman Henry Cuellar told the same station that over 200 letters have been to sent to landowners in Starr and Hidalgo counties.

The rosters for the Major League Baseball All-Star Game were announced Sunday and six players from Texas teams made the cut.

Five are from the Houston Astros and one is from the Texas Rangers.

The Astros players include Justin Verlander, Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, George Springer, and Gerrit Cole. The lone Texas Ranger is Shin-Soo Choo. They’ll play for the American League in the 89th annual Midsummer Classic next week in Washington, D.C.