This Year’s Top News Along the Texas Valley Border

McAllen Monitor editor Carlos Sanchez gives us the rundown.

By Rhonda FanningDecember 22, 2015 12:07 pm

Texas Standard has been gearing up for our end-of-year look at the top news stories of 2015. Listener suggestions so far have included Jade Helm, Donald Trump, Black Lives Matter and Sandra Bland, just to name a few.

While we sort through the year’s news, we’re checking in with those whose job is to gauge what news matters most to Texas communities: a newspaper editor. Carlos Sanchez is the editor of the McAllen Monitor in South Texas. We discussed a range of stories he says are not to be overlooked when considering the top news of the year.

Space Exploration

“It’s like the news doesn’t stop here in the valley,” Sanchez says.

Sanchez says a historic event happened Monday night. SpaceX, Elon Musk’s space exploration company, launched a cargo ship in the Florida area and, for the first time, were able to land the first stage rocket booster successfully. Earlier this year the company announced that they would be building a launch facility in the Rio Grande Valley.

“This has huge significance,” Sanchez says. “Musk actually went on a hiatus, it seemed, after the last [launch] in which his Falcon 1 craft exploded. [Monday] was a picture-perfect launch and bodes well for the future of space launches in south Texas.”

This is one event that Sanchez says is “transformational.”

“You can put the development of a space exploration launching facility in south Texas on par with the development of NAFTA 20 years ago,” he says, “in terms of the impact it could potentially have on the Rio Grande Valley.”

The Surge of Undocumented Children at the Border

“We’re getting quite a few reports of an additional surge within the last couple of months,” Sanchez says. “They’re coming across and they’re simply turning themselves in to border patrol agents. It’s not like they’re trying to sneak across. It is they’ve reached the finish line in terms of the international border with Texas and they’re simply turning themselves in which is beginning to tax the system once again.”

The Supreme Court’s Gay Marriage Ruling

“It’s an interesting community reaction,” Sanchez says. The bishop, who spoke out against the ruling, has a huge influence in south Texas, Sanchez says.

“A gay couple went to the Hidalgo County Courthouse and became among the first in Texas to actually get married,” Sanchez says. “So I think from the perspective of the community the gay marriage issue has not had the impact that it has in other parts of Texas.”

New University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Medical School

Sanchez says the medical school will be just one component of an entire new university, built out of the combination of the University of Texas Pan-American and the University of Texas Brownsville.

“Those two universities merged… and from that UTRGV was born,” Sanchez says. “The impact is significant for the Valley obviously because of the education component. But more important, is the way it’s now structured. The UT school here in the valley has access to permanent university funds, which heretofore they did not have access to.”