The State of Texas: February 9, 2015
Bueno Houston Social Club – Houston is attracting a growing number of Cuban immigrants. “More than 17,400 Cubans crossed over the Southwest border last year, according to U.S. government statistics, the most in the past five years and a 217 percent increase since 2010,” writes the Houston Chronicle. And “a skyrocketing number are landing in Houston, drawn by the city’s proximity to the border, low housing costs, plentiful job opportunities and large Latino population.” Unlike many of those from South American countries who head north, Cubans enjoy much easier access to legal residency through the Cuban Adjustment Act. And since the 1966 act could be on its way out, it is “fuel[ing] an urgency for Cubans seeking to take advantage of the benefit before it’s too late. In the last three months of 2014 alone, more than 8,600 Cubans arrived at southern U.S. ports of entry, including Miami. . . . Refugee Services of Texas in Houston didn’t work with any Cuban parolees until June 2014 but now they make up about half of their case load.”
Homemade Heroes – After much debate and discussion, the U.S. Army has decided to grant the Purple Heart and other wartime awards to those who were killed or injured during the 2009 Fort Hood massacre. The decision came after Congress approved new “regulations aimed at forcing the Department of Defense to reconsider earlier refusals to grant Purple Hearts,” according to the Dallas Morning News. Apart from the glory bestowed, the Army’s previous determination that the shooting was not “combat related” meant that victims could not access certain health and disability benefits. “This has been a long, hard fight,” said U.S. representative John Carter (R-Round Rock). “The victims of this attack have struggled, suffered, and been abandoned by this administration. No more. Today is a day of victory, and I am honored to have fought on their behalf.”
Playing Army – Perhaps he was getting jealous of Rick Perry getting all the attention, but Ted Cruz appears to have kicked his possible presidential bid up a notch. Cruz “reiterated Sunday that he is looking at the possibility of a presidential campaign ‘very, very seriously,’” writes the Washington Post. The serious non-announcement was made to CNN via satellite, as Cruz is in Germany for the Munich Security Conference. That itself is something of a sign, as Cruz begins to beef up (i.e., create out of nothing) his foreign policy folder. Being the hawk that he is, that of course means suggesting arming more foreign actors. A member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and “part of the congressional delegation that included meetings with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko,” Cruz “called for arming Ukraine to defend itself against Russia, and the Kurds to fight the Islamic State.”
American Sniper, IRL – After all the fanfare for the major motion picture, the real trial for the killer of Chris Kyle starts this week in Stephenville, and it is expected to draw plenty of international media attention. As the Dallas Morning News notes, “No one denies that Routh pulled the trigger. He confessed to the killings later that day and is expected to plead not guilty by reason of insanity. Testimony likely will include evidence that he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.” The problem, of course, is that the widespread success of American Sniper may make it hard to seat a jury. Despite the movie’s popularity, however, a statue of Chris Kyle is actually having some difficulty finding a proper home in Texas. The movie, while record-breaking, is on the wane. This weekend, it was knocked from its number one spot in the box office by, er, Spongebob Squarepants.