AUSTIN — Although border-crossing issues are largely federal matters, the Lone Star State has been a center of news reports about authorities separating children from their parents at detention centers along the Rio Grande.
President Trump on June 20 ordered a cease in the forced separation of family members who are in detention, but the fate of more than 2,000 minors who were taken away from their parents remained unresolved.
On June 21, a contingency of the non-partisan United States Conference of Mayors, including Austin Mayor Steve Adler, gathered at a border detention center in Tornillo, near El Paso. The mayors were not allowed to enter the facility where children reportedly were being held.
“Using children in order to deter or dissuade folks from coming to our border and seeking asylum is unjust. It is wrong. It is immoral and it is un-American. We are better than that,” Adler said at the beginning of a longer, widely disseminated video statement.
Meanwhile, many Republican and Democratic members of Congress are seeking solutions that would keep more asylum-seeking families together and reunite families that have been separated.
Court rules against ban
The Texas Supreme Court on June 22 upheld a ruling by the Texas 4th Court of Appeals that the city of Laredo’s ban on single-use plastic bags is illegal.
The ruling effectively invalidates bag bans across the state, said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
“Municipalities violate the law when they unlawfully pass the burden of solid waste management to citizens and retailers through illegal bag bans. I hope that Laredo, Austin and any other jurisdictions that have enacted illegal bag bans will take note and voluntarily bring their ordinances into compliance with state law. Should they decline to do so, I expect the ruling will be used to invalidate any other illegal bag bans statewide,” Paxton said.
Operation gets results
Attorney General Paxton on June 18 announced the Consumer Protection Division of his office had taken legal action against three companies, including a Houston-based labor poster operation, as a part of the Federal Trade Commission’s sweep targeting scam artists who attempt to defraud small businesses.
“Operation Main Street” resulted in 24 actions nationwide against individuals or companies accused of ripping off small businesses. The collaborative effort included participation by the offices of seven other state attorneys general, the Better Business Bureau and two U.S. attorneys’ offices, among others.
Paxton said his office obtained a temporary restraining order and asset freeze against Corporate Compliance Solutions, a company that solicited small businesses with warnings of their need to comply with federal labor laws. The company tricked business owners into thinking they needed to buy an $84 labor law compliance poster or face fines and possible imprisonment, Paxton said.
Paxton’s office also obtained a permanent injunction and restitution order against American Advertising Concepts, a company that sold advertising space on dry erase boards to small business owners nationwide by falsely claiming affiliations with schools and apartment complexes.
Additionally, Paxton’s office filed a lawsuit against Solvera, a company that Paxton said “duped individuals into paying thousands of dollars by falsely leading them to believe it could improve a business’ reputation in internet search results.”
Emergency election is set
Gov. Greg Abbott issued a proclamation ordering a July 31 emergency special election to fill the Senate District 19 seat formerly occupied by Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio.
Uresti resigned from office effective June 21. He was convicted of fraud and money laundering by a San Antonio federal district court on June 18.
Senate District 19 includes Brewster, Crockett, Dimmit, Edwards, Frio, Kinney, Maverick, Medina, Pecos, Real, Reeves, Terrell, Uvalde, Val Verde and Zavala counties and parts of Atascosa and Bexar counties.
SBOE OKs ethnic course
The State Board of Education on June 15 announced preliminarily approval a new social studies course titled "Ethnic Studies: Mexican American Studies."
A second and final vote on curriculum standards for the course will take place at the board’s Sept. 11-14meeting. If approved, the one-credit elective course would then become the first SBOE-approved ethnic studies course in Texas.
Once fully adopted, the course will be available for use in Texas public schools in the 2019-2020 school year. The course is based on a course created by the Houston Independent School District.
Ed Sterling is director of member services for the Texas Press Association.