The State of Texas: Paxton Makes Texas First State To Back Trump’s Travel Ban
Plus: A controversial ICE arrest puts El Paso in the national spotlight, an abortion bill bonanza at the Texas Capitol, and a wall-art war wages between three Texas cities.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“If it hadn’t been for Angel, I would’ve been dead. I think that was destined to be his name. I think he was destined to be here to save me on a Valentine’s Day. I’ll never forget.”
—Reed McIntosh, of Grand Prairie, to KDFW. Angel, one of McIntosh’s five cats, alerted the 74-year old man that his house was on fire. The seven-month old kitten awakened McIntosh by repeatedly pawing at his face, allowing him enough time to escape the home unharmed on Tuesday. Tragically, McIntosh’s four other cats didn’t make it out, which only makes Angel’s actions seem even more miraculous.
Backing The Ban
The Lone Star State lived up to its nickname on Wednesday, when Attorney General Ken Paxton made Texas the only state to support President Donald Trump’s embattled travel ban targeting immigrants and refugees from seven majority-Muslim countries. “The law makes it very clear that the president has discretion to protect the safety of the American people and our nation’s institutions with respect to who can come into this country,” Paxton said in a press release. “The safety of the American people and the security of our country are President Trump’s major responsibilities under the law.” Paxton filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, arguing that the court’s three-judge panel should reconsider its decision to halt Trump’s executive order after federal judges in lower courts across the nation issued their own decisions to stop the ban. In the amicus brief, Paxton called those decisions “a remarkable use of the judicial power to interfere with the President’s national-security decisions in an area of strongest executive authority.” You can read the entire amicus brief here. Paxton’s really putting Texas out on its own here. As the Washington Post notes, twenty other states have lent their official support to banning Trump’s travel ban, and the executive order immediately prompted large protests as soon as it was signed late last month, including here in Texas. Critics of the ban ranged from immigration advocates to top national security officials to business leaders in Silicon Valley, who derided the executive order for its apparent discrimination against Muslims and for its disorganized implementation that resulted in the detainment of hundreds of permanent residents and legal green card-holders at airports across the country.
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested an undocumented woman at the El Paso County Courthouse last week, amid nationwide raids that rounded up more than 600 undocumented people. The raids drew widespread criticism from Democratic lawmakers and immigration advocates, and people in immigrant communities throughout Texas and elsewhere were fearful that they or their loved ones may be next. But this El Paso woman’s case is perhaps the most troubling story to emerge from the raids. According to the El Paso Times, the woman was a victim of domestic violence and had gone to the courthouse seeking protection. She was arrested shortly after receiving a protective order, and it seems that ICE was acting on a tip from the woman’s alleged abuser. The story made national headlines. “This is really unprecedented,” El Paso County Attorney Jo Anne Bernal told the Washington Post. “It really was a stunning event. It has an incredible chilling effect for all undocumented victims of any crime in our community.”
Bills On Bills
Wednesday was a particularly intense day at the Texas Capitol, with the Senate Health and Human Services Committee hearing testimony on three abortion-related bills: Senate Bill 8, Senate Bill 415 (both deal with the disposal of fetal tissue) and Senate Bill 258 (which targets so-called “dismemberment” abortions). According to the Texas Tribune, the bills prompted “emotional” testimony from advocates on both sides of the abortion issue. Pro-choice folks criticized lawmakers for pushing bills that they said had no positive impact on women’s health and unfairly stigmatized women seeking legal abortion services, while several testifiers from the anti-abortion crowd called for an end to what many of them see as murder. One person testifying literally said, “this is our holocaust.” According to the Austin American-Statesman, the hearing lasted more than three hours. The committee didn’t vote on Wednesday, but the panel, which is made up of six Republicans and three Democrats, is expected to send the bills to the rest of the Senate the next time it meets.
Whose Wall Is It Anyway?
We’re talking about the most famous wall mural in Texas: the “I Love You So Much” landmark in Austin, the state’s mecca for Instragrammers. San Antonio long ago appropriated Austin’s wall content with a mural of its own, declaring “I Love
You Tacos So Much.” And now Houston seems to have ripped off San Antonio’s Austin rip-off. It’s confusing, we know. Everyone should just get their own damn wall murals. According to the San Antonio Express-News, El Big Bad, a Tex-Mex joint in downtown Houston, has a new (but not really new) mural on its wall: “I Love You And Tacos So Much.” A subtle difference—the interjection of the word “and”—marks this counterfeit mural as slightly unique from the others. But make no mistake, this is a shot fired by Houston, which had so far played the Switzerland role in Austin and San Antonio’s wall-art war. “I love how Texans can have a rivalry between cities while at the same time branding together as Texans,” Kevin Hernandez, the artist commissioned by Big Bad to paint the Houston mural, told Culture Map Houston. A quick survey of Instagram shows Houstonians seem unconcerned that it’s a knockoff. Dallas, you’re next.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Some links are paywalled or subscription-only.
How Texas’s teenage victims of sex trafficking often end up behind bars Texas Tribune
Black parents in Austin discuss giving their kids “the talk” about interacting with police Austin American-Statesman
Two hunting guides were charged in connection to a Presidio County ranch shooting that prompted anti-immigrant fake news KOSA
An Amarillo councilman took out a newspaper ad to call out a TV reporter for publishing an investigative piece he didn’t like Amarillo Globe-News
And the same Amarillo councilman may have broken the law by voting in favor of a budget that paid his billboard business tends of thousands of dollars KAMR