Things That Matter

Refugees Are No Longer Welcomed In Texas As It Becomes The First State To Refuse Refugees Under New Trump Rule

We recently published a story detailing how some Republican governors seemed to be breaking ranks with president Donald J. Trump when it comes to a controversial executive order that allows local and state governments to block refugee resettlements in their jurisdiction. This means that a program that has been hailed by politicians, including presidents, from both sides of the aisle is at a clear and present danger of being greatly diminished.

Trump’s order has been blasted by pundits and activists. As reported in The Washington Post: “Critics said the policy change underscores a growing hostility to the country’s refugee resettlement program, especially in some conservative states and the White House.”

So this is Trump’s America and he is standing by his campaign promise of reducing the number of migrants that enter the US under his administration. The social and human cost of these policies, however, has been enormous, and populations that were already vulnerable due to discrimination are further put into the spotlight. 

One of the most important states when it comes to migratory issues is Texas, which shares a long border with Mexico and has a long history of multiculturalism. And a recent decision by its governor has the potential to have longstanding effects on how Texan society and culture is shaped. 

Governor Greg Abbott has announced that his state will reject the resettlement of new refugees.

In a letter penned to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Governor Abbott stated that Texas has “carried more than its share in assisting the refugee resettlement process.” He also described the current migration status quo that of “a broken federal immigration system”. And, surprise, surprise, he blamed the Democrat-led Congress for the downfall: “Texas continues to have to deal with the consequences of an immigration system that Congress has failed to fix.”

And yes, Texas has harbored more refugees than most states, so this is not necessarily an anti-immigration move per se, but the move is certainly a disappointing development.

Even if the number of new intakes has diminished in recent years, Texas has taken in more refugees than other states. As BBC reports: “Texas has large refugee populations in several of its major cities. In the 2018 fiscal year, Texas took in 1,697 refugees – more than any other state, but a large drop from 4,768 in the previous fiscal year.”

And as Abbott wrote in his letter: “Since FY2010, more refugees have been received in Texas than in any other state. In fact, over that decade, roughly 10% of all refugees resettled in the United States have been placed in Texas.”

Well, yes, but we also have to consider that Texas is a huge state and that migrants have greatly contributed to its development. The devil is in the details and in the past. Abbot has a history of opposing the resettlement of certain migrant groups. During the Obama administration, in 2015 to be exact, he tried to reject the arrival of Syrian refugees to the state. This was seen as a discriminatory measure at the time. As The New York Times reminds us: “Under Mr. Abbott’s leadership, Texas sued the Obama administration in 2015 to stop the resettlement of Syrian refugees, accusing the federal government of failing to consult with state officials. Mr. Abbott also cited security concerns and said people with ties to terrorist groups were exploiting the refugee program. That lawsuit proved unsuccessful in the courts.”

The governor claims that resources are limited and the system cannot support any more arrivals.

In his letter, the governor stated that the resources the state would allocate to new arrivals should instead go to “those who are already here, including refugees, migrants, and the homeless – indeed, all Texans”. He also stated that refugees that have already resettled in other states will be free to move to Texas if they wish, but they will not receive benefits. 

And the decision has been controversial and activists are echando el grito al cielo.

Mark Hetfield, president and CEO of HIAS, a refugee resettlement group, said in a statement: “This is a shameful decision by Gov. Abbott which is unworthy of the great state’s reputation for being big, bold and hospitable.”

Several church groups are legally challenging Trump’s executive order. And others have used even harsher words. Ali Noorani, executive director at Leaders from National Immigration Forum, said: “At a time of historically low state unemployment rates, why would Texas turn away refugees with an entrepreneurial spirit that contributes to local communities and economies? Turning away those seeking safety and opportunity isn’t just disheartening — for Texas, it’s bad business.”

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Former Texas State Senate Candidate Says She Was ‘Tortured’ in a Hotel Room After a Violent Ambush

Things That Matter

Former Texas State Senate Candidate Says She Was ‘Tortured’ in a Hotel Room After a Violent Ambush

Photo: Vanessa Tijerina/Facebook

Texas police are currently trying to get to the bottom of a disturbing incident that happened in Raymondville on Monday.

Former Republican candidate for Texas state Senate, Vanessa Tijerina, posted a shocking 10-minute Facebook Live video detailing the brutal assault she experienced in a nearby hotel on Monday.

Tijerina appeared in the video with her face looking unrecognizable. She had two black eyes–both of which were swollen almost completely shut.

Her face was covered in bruises. Her speech was impaired from how much swelling she was experiencing. It looked–to be blunt–like she had been beaten to a pulp.

Through tears, Tijerina explained to her followers that she was lured to a hotel room by some unnamed assailants who led her to believe they had “something really really really important” to tell her that they couldn’t tell her over the phone.

But once she was alone in the hotel room, the assailants “gagged, bound [and] tortured” her.

“I was beaten. I was terrorized, bound, gagged, tortured,” she said in the Facebook Live video.

“I never fought back because I knew that if I fought back, it would’ve been worse and I probably wasn’t going to survive. And I needed to survive for my daughters.”

Although a motive for the assault hasn’t yet been established, Tijerina is a relatively high-profile figure in Texas’s Raymondville community. She is active on social media and regularly goes on Facebook live to engage with her followers and supporters. And with her high profile comes a litany of critics and haters who have created troll accounts with the express purpose of smearing her.

Despite all this, Tijerina refutes the rumors that she “did something” to motivate the beating.

“There was nothing that I did that made this okay for this to happen to me,” she said. Tijerina began to get increasingly more emotional as she talked about her children and the fact that she was not able to give her children the toys she bought them for Christmas.

So far, Raymondville police have arrested three suspects in connection to the assault: Amanda Salinas, Ariel Jamie Vela and Ramon Donato Santana Jr. As for who was on the phone giving orders at the time of the assault, police are still looking for answers.

As of this writing, the police have not yet publicly revealed a motive. But since her attack, Tijerina has again taken to her Facebook page to assert that the assault was “100% motivated by hate.”

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4-Year-Old is Rescued By First Responders After Being Trapped in a Well For 6 Hours; ‘It’s a Christmas Miracle’

Things That Matter

4-Year-Old is Rescued By First Responders After Being Trapped in a Well For 6 Hours; ‘It’s a Christmas Miracle’

Photo courtesy of City of Mission, TX

On December 8th, a 4-year-old boy in Garceño, Texas was rescued from an 8-inch wide well after accidentally falling into it. According to the authorities in Mission, Texas, the boy was rescued by first responders who worked tirelessly over a six hour period to dig the boy out.

According to reports, the authorities responded to an emergency call at 4:40 p.m that explained that the 4-year-old had fallen down a well at a ranch property in Garceño.

The stunning rescue was captured on video for the world to see.

“So proud of our Mission firefighters & all 1st responders that rescued the child after 6 long hrs,” the City of Mission wrote on Twitter. “Pit was only 8-10 inches in diameter. It’s a Christmas miracle!”

The video shows the final moments of the rescue. Onlookers applauded as first responders lifted the boy out of the hole.

Authorities reported that the boy was flown to hospital to undergo testing after his harrowing ordeal. He is reportedly in stable condition.

The day after the boy’s rescue, Sheriff Rene “Orta” Fuentes took to Facebook to express his gratitude to the Starr County community, naming every first responder who had a hand in rescuing the unnamed boy.

“Last night proved to be a testament of our community and neighboring communities’ unity and sincere concern for each other,” wrote Sheriff Fuentes. “Through prayers and actions from everyone involved a little boy lives today.”

The city of Mission also tweeted out videos and photos, calling the rescue a “Christmas Miracle”.

According to Robert Alvarez, the assistant fire chief of the town’s Fire Department, a crew trained in “trench rescues” was sent to the scene.

According to local authorities, the rescue team dug a hole in the ground parallel to where the boy was trapped. When the second hole was deep enough, the team chiseled away at the ground until they were able to break through the wall of where the boy was trapped.

Throughout the entire ordeal, Alvarez says that the child’s welfare was of the utmost priority. “The biggest thing that we were trying to make sure was that the operation was done safely,” he told USA Today.

This is a happy ending to an ordeal that could have ended in tragedy. We’re happy that this little boy and his family are able to celebrate the holidays together, safe and sound.

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