$Texas, Journalism, Me Myself and Ty, Politics

On the fence no more: Texas rejects Trump, wall

Border state officials ask for personnel; not wall

The Republican presidential primary blew through Texas last week, where Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) got a much-needed win in his home state.

The freshman senator received an endorsement from Gov. Greg Abbott one week before the Texas primary and went on to win all but five of the state’s 254 counties, earning half a million votes more than runner-up Donald Trump, who has suggested he’ll build a $12 billion wall along the state’s southern border.

Ty Johnson

Supporters in Myrtle Beach, S.C. cheered Donald Trump’s plan to build his ever-growing border wall, but Trump won just five counties in Texas, the only border state to have its primary so far.

The rebuff from the Lone Star State, while not unexpected because of Cruz’s popularity there, served to show that voters in a state with a third of the Mexican border running alongside it don’t want to see a wall running along it.

Abbott, still one of Cruz’s biggest endorsements as the March 15 primaries draw near, last year signed into law a first-of-its-kind $800,000 border security package and has made border relations a touchstone of his administration, even naming Mexican native Carlos Cascos as his Secretary of State.

Abbott’s election came months after the Rio Grande Valley saw the summer arrival of some 50,000 refugees, mostly women and children escaping violence in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. The crisis reached such fever pitch that in summer 2014 the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security scheduled a field hearing in McAllen, Texas; the city where each day refugees were turning up.

Throughout testimony from then Gov. Rick Perry and state and federal officials, there was never discussion about continuing the Southern Fencing Strategy, the national plan to wall off the border from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. Besides the cost of the fence and its inability to deter illegal crossings — there is testimony that it saves Border Patrol agents just 15 seconds — the fence has disrupted migratory patterns for a plethora of native wildlife and in some cases cut off citizens from their property.

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The Texas Department of Public Safety “border surge” concentrated troopers in an area already bound on the north and south by U.S. Border Patrol checkpoints.

Perry sent the National Guard, militarizing further a region already bound on the north and south by border checkpoints.

The deployment was viewed more as a political stunt after Perry slinked toward another failed White House run, but the border continued to stay in the news long after hope for the Gang of Eight bill had faded.

When Abbott took office, he asked Washington for 250 additional U.S. Border Patrol agents to handle the influx of immigrants. When it didn’t happen, he sent 250 Texas Department of Public Safety troopers into Deep South Texas to support federal agents along the state’s border.

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$Texas, Me Myself and Ty, Uncategorized

Life is a carnival

I used to hate Melvin Mora before I moved to Brownsville.

Yes, I soured on the Orioles’ highly paid third baseman after his numbers fell following the front office’s sweetening of the pot. From North Carolina it seemed like he was sandbagging after he got his big contract.

IMG_4003During the latter part of his time in Baltimore, I was hot on my streak of watching at least one Orioles game per season (which sadly ended in 2013) and each time I made the pilgrimage to Camden Yards, Mora came to bat while the same song played.

I heard the song occasionally outside of the stadium and each time I was reminded of his failure to produce, and I would wince. In truth, I have realized in hindsight that the fact that no one could replace Cal Ripken Jr. likely factored into this dislike, but the truth remains that reminders of Mora brought me no pleasure until I came to South Texas.

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$Texas, Journalism, Me Myself and Ty

A selfish criticism of selfies

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I was on the edge of America with my parents when the mood struck.

Staring across the Rio Grande from the Sabal Palms Bird Sanctuary I thought about how silly the boundary was, how the river was nothing more than a river that humans assigned special meaning to for no reason other than to mark territory.

Oh and I thought about taking a selfie.

I had recently been trying to use Instagram more for photo uploads in an effort to make it seem like I’m not this boring old dude that doesn’t know how to use filters.

And in this day and age, being hip and using filters means using hashtags.

I quickly realized this was my first opportunity to use, for the first time, that hallowed hashtag above all others: the #selfie.

So as I plopped myself down looking north into the lens and at my reflection in my phone, I had already decided this would be my fine ascension into the world of #selfie stardom.

It was then that my mom offered to take the picture for me.

I declined and told her I was taking a selfie. She laughed and said she knew what a selfie was, assuring for me that the term has permeated my generation to the point that my mother knows what it is. Continue reading

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$Texas, Journalism, Me Myself and Ty, Uncategorized

Spoiler Alert Part 1

This two-part series chronicles the roughly 12 hours I spent chasing actor Edward James Olmos around South Texas for this story.

It was early May when I found out about the fundraiser and began putting together an advance story.

An actor, Edward James Olmos, was going to headline an annual event that raises money for the local Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children chapter.

My editor was freaking out about coverage, saying Olmos was one of his favorite actors.

Based on his reaction, I assumed there were dozens of movies starring Olmos that I had missed somehow.

I remembered watching Stand and Deliver in high school, but if I was being honest with myself, I couldn’t keep the plot completely separate from Dead Poets Society, another film about an inspirational teacher.

I shrugged it off as another actor that was before my time, but he and a colleague began discussing his work on Battlestar Galactica.

Those words, in my head, evoked half memories of cheesy sets and poor video quality akin to Knight Rider, only in a science-fiction setting. I remembered my dad attempting to explain the details of the wars between humans and Cylons, and something about a red eye, but everything else in the sci-fi compartment of my brain was filled with AT-ATs, Kessel runs and Kashyyyk history factoids.

But it turns out there was a second series. One that began in 2003. And Olmos was the star.

I wrote the advance, but assumed my editor would be covering the event. After all, I didn’t know Olmos from Robin Williams, so what warranted me being there?

He was busy the night of the fundraiser, though, so I headed to the event where Olmos’ speech was the keynote.

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