Border arrests jumped 36 percent in May

According to new U.S. Customs and Border Protection figures, the number of migrants detained by U.S. authorities at the Mexico border rose 36% in May.

Texans who want to vote in the upcoming Texas primary runoff election have until Monday, to register.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott delayed the upcoming primary runoffs from May to July after the coronavirus pandemic hit the state of Texas.

Voters participating in the Democratic primary will decide the outcome in two statewide races. Most notably, state Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, is facing decorated Air Force veteran MJ Hegar in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate seat.

Whoever wins will go on to face U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, in the fall. The other statewide Democratic primary runoff is for a seat on the Texas Railroad Commission, a regulatory agency that oversees the oil and natural gas industry.

Both Republican and Democratic voters will choose the winners in a handful of congressional and legislative runoff races.

Here’s how to register to vote:

  • First, you should check if you are already registered to vote at your current address. You can do so here with your Texas driver’s license number and date of birth, your first and last names, and the county where you reside, or with your date of birth and Voter Unique Identifier, which you can find on your voter registration certificate.
  • If you are not registered to vote, print out your voter registration application here and mail it to the voter registrar in your county. Your application must be postmarked by Monday.

Early voting starts June 29. Voters who voted in the Republican primary in March cannot cross parties and vote in the Democratic primary – and vice versa. But if you didn’t vote in the March primary you can still vote in the primary runoffs. See the primary runoff ballot here and add key Texas 2020 election dates to your calendar here.

U.S. Rep. Garcia self-quarantines after exposure to coronavirus

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Sylvia R. Garcia, a Houston Democrat, announced Friday that she was exposed to the coronavirus and will be self-quarantining.

The congresswoman has been tested and awaits results, according to a statement. Under the recommendation of her physician and the House attending doctor, she will be self-isolating, following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. The exposure came via a family member who has tested positive.

“I will be taking the necessary precautions to make sure I can continue fighting for our community,” she said in a statement. “I want this to serve as a reminder for everyone in the Houston region and across the country that we are still combating COVID-19 and that everyone should be following public health guidelines that will help keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy.”

Garcia has been one of the more active Texas Democratic members of Congress since the onset of the pandemic, which has upended normal congressional business.

Last month, a number of Texas members backed a new rules change to allow some members to cast votes in the place of colleagues who avoided congressional travel to and from Washington during the pandemic. Noting that she lived near an international airport and could make a direct flight to Washington, Garcia voted on behalf of her fellow freshman, U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-El Paso.

Garcia was in Washington this week, participating in a House Judiciary Committee hearing while wearing a mask.

She is not the first Texas member to self-quarantine.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz was one of the first lawmakers to engage in a self-quarantine in March. U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, announced in early March that he was potentially exposed, but under the direction of the U.S. House physician, he returned to Congress. And after running a fever, U.S. Rep. Lizzie Pannill Fletcher self-quarantined but ultimately tested negative for the coronavirus.

Cornyn reverses course, signals openness to remove Confederate names from military bases

WASHINGTON — After initially resisting the idea of changing Fort Hood’s name, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn indicated Friday afternoon that he is more open to changing the names of military bases named for Confederate leaders.

Fort Hood, a massive military installation in Central Texas, is named after Confederate military leader John Bell Hood.

“I was asked that question yesterday,” Cornyn said, a nod to comments he made Thursday to reporters in which he pushed back against the notion of changing base names. “And since that time I’ve learned actually that the Senate Armed Services Committee has voted in a bipartisan vote to issue a study, a commission to come back with recommendations to Congress. I think that’s the appropriate way to handle it.

“I realize these are contentious issues,” he continued. “What I don’t want us to do is to try to erase our history because, frankly, if you forget your history, you’re condemned to relive it.”

Pressed Thursday about changing Fort Hood’s name, Cornyn said, “I am for looking forward, not looking backward.”

Crowds across the nation have pulled down statues of Confederate leaders.

This week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi proposed removing 11 Confederate statues from the Capitol.

Cornyn made his latest remarks Friday in Dallas, where he met with Mayor Eric Johnson to discuss changes to policing in the wake of George Floyd’s killing while in police custody in Minneapolis.

Cornyn is up for reelection this fall, and the two candidates in July’s Democratic runoff criticized his initial comments on Thursday.

Border arrests jumped 36% in May despite Trump crackdown

The number of migrants detained by U.S. authorities at the Mexico border rose 36% in May, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection figures released Friday, a sign that the deterrent effects of President Donald Trump’s emergency pandemic measures might be wearing off.

CBP took 23,118 migrants into custody last month, up from 16,966 in April, the figures show. Border arrests typically rise in late spring as U.S. seasonal labor demands increase, but last month’s totals were still far below the figures recorded in May 2019, when 144,116 were detained at the peak of last year’s border crisis.

The uptick at the border last month occurred despite the administration’s continued application of emergency restrictions that have suspended normal immigration proceedings and allowed for the rapid “expulsion” of nearly every migrant who crosses into the United States illegally.

Those emergency health orders, which CBP refers to as Title 42, allowed the agency to expel 19,707 border crossers last month, including minors and asylum seekers who are no longer afforded additional legal protections. The Trump administration argues the emergency measures have aided in preventing a wider coronavirus outbreak by limiting the number of detainees held in cramped border cells.

“Implementation of COVID-19 policies allowed CBP to process and return, in under two hours, 96% of those subject to [Title 42], dramatically reducing human contact, the risk of spread, and the strain on U.S. healthcare facilities, helping the United States avert a public health disaster,” the agency said in a statement Friday.

Since the implementation of the emergency orders in late March, nearly 43,000 migrants have been subjected to the rapid-expulsion proceedings, according to CBP figures. Once in U.S. custody, the migrants’ fingerprints and documents are quickly recorded, and they are driven to the nearest border crossing for delivery to Mexican authorities.

Mexican single adults now account for the largest share of those taken into custody in recent months, in contrast with last year’s historic border surge, which was driven primarily by Central American families.

According to CBP data, 82% of migrants encountered by the agency last month were Mexican nationals, while just 13% were from Central America’s Northern Triangle nations of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. A year earlier, those numbers were almost the reverse: 72% of detainees were from the Northern Triangle and 16% from Mexico.

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