The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.
The Trump administration announced Monday that it will not renew Temporary Protected Status for Salvadoran immigrants. It was first put in place in 2001 after two devastating earthquakes rocked the country.
A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) press release stated that, “the substantial disruption of living conditions caused by the earthquake no longer exist.”
DHS has already announced it was ending this humanitarian program for Haitian and Nicaraguan immigrants, but Salvadorans make up the largest group of TPS recipients in the United States at around 200,000 people. More than 36,000 Salvadoran TPS holders live in Texas alone.
One of those TPS recipients is Cristian Chavez, who lives in Houston and has benefited from the status for the last 16 years. He spoke during a conference call organized by immigrant advocates last month and said being forced to return to El Salvador was akin to a death sentence, “because the organized crime controls everything back there.”
In fact, the U.S. State Department has a travel warning in place for El Salvador due to gangs that – “focus on extortion, violent street crime, narcotics and arms trafficking.”
The TPS designation for Salvadoran recipients will end in September of 2019.
A whole lot of Texas state employees called it quits in 2017.
Houston Public Media’s Florian Martin notes that state agencies saw their highest turnover since George W. Bush was governor.
Nearly one-fifth, 18.6 percent, of state employees left their agencies last year, most of them voluntarily, according to the State Auditor’s Office.
Brown blames low wages, diminished benefits and a hiring freeze that went into effect recently. As a result, he said, employees are having to do more work and are finding better jobs in the private sector.
Scott Sonenshein, a management professor at Rice University, said high turnover creates problems for the state.
“You’ve got to hire new people, you’ve got to train people. It might slow down other types of processes that need to happen for government to work,” he said. “And eventually that will make citizens upset if they’re not getting the level of service that they require.”
Sonenshein said the auditor’s report should be a wake-up call for the state Legislature to address the root causes of the high turnover.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says 2017 was the costliest year on record for climate and weather disasters in the United States.
NOAA was tracking events that caused at least one billion dollars in damage – and there were 16 of those last year, including Hurricane Harvey.
Adam Smith, an economist with NOAA, spoke with reporters during a January 8thconference call. “Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria now join Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Katrina in the new top five costliest U.S. hurricanes on record,” he said. Harvey was actually last year’s most expensive disaster causing $125 billion in damages. Altogether the disasters exceeded over $300 billion.