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Friday, June 2, 2023

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A Wisconsin group criticizes two of its members of Congress, a new report says the Phoenix area cannot meet its groundwater demands, and Nevada's sporting community sends its priorities to the governor.

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The Senate aims to get the debt limit spending bill to President Biden's desk quickly, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis makes a campaign stop in Iowa, and a new survey finds most straight adults support LGBTQ+ rights.

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Oregon may expand food stamp eligibility to some undocumented households, rural areas have a new method of accessing money for roads and bridges, and Tennessee's new online tool helps keep track of cemetery locations.

Proposed Border Policing Unit Gains Traction in Texas

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Monday, May 15, 2023   

Legislation to create a "Border Protection Unit" is headed to the Texas Senate, while the governor said more needs to be done to secure the U.S.-Mexico border.

Tens of thousands of asylum-seekers, mostly from South and Central America, are living along the border, having arrived before the COVID-related Title 42 policy of refusing entry to migrants for reasons of public health ended last Thursday.

The proposed Border Protection Unit would be authorized to "arrest, apprehend or detain" people who illegally cross and "repel" those who attempt to cross the border. It is unclear who would be allowed to join what some have called a "vigilante" unit.

Luis Figueroa, legislative affairs director for the group Every Texan, said compassion, not criminalization is what is needed.

"What we have seen across the state, is the rhetoric of invasion, the rhetoric of anti-immigrant sentiment has led to an increase in hate crimes -- has led to actual violence against immigrants in different parts of the state -- different parts of the nation," Figueroa asserted.

Democrats in the Texas House of Representatives have argued the new unit would codify harassment of minorities and put the state in the business of immigration enforcement, which has historically been the federal government's job.

Figueroa explained migrants along the border who have shared their stories said they are trying to escape persecution in their own countries, and connect with family in the U.S. to find shelter and employment. He noted there is a long history of state residents helping those dislocated by events such as hurricanes, and this should not be treated differently.

"Supplies are needed, there are definitely shelters that need to be built, volunteers are needed," Figueroa outlined. "We need to stop referring to it as invasion, we need to stop referring to it as a threat and start addressing it as what it is: a humanitarian crisis."

Ahead of Title 42 ending, the Biden administration sent 1,500 active-duty troops to the border to perform data entry and warehouse support. At the same time, Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott deployed a specially trained elite unit of the National Guard called the "Texas Tactical Border Force" to El Paso and other hot spots along the Rio Grande.


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