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Border & Immigration Update: Afghan Family of Slain U.S. Interpreter Arrives In Houston

 The family of a man known as “Mohammad” arrives at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston after traveling from Afghanistan.
Elizabeth Trovall
Houston Public Media
The family of a man known as “Mohammad” arrives at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston after traveling from Afghanistan.

Here’s a rundown of border and immigration news from Texas and beyond. Look out for a weekly recap featuring reporting from NPR and Texas’ public radio stations.

From Honduras To Texas Then Indiana, One Young Migrant’s Journey

An estimated 55,000 unaccompanied minors have arrived in the U.S. since President Joe Biden took office. About one in three now come from Honduras. Oscar Sanchez is one of those young migrants.

KERA and The Dallas Morning News teamed up to tell Oscar’s story. The teen spent 31 days inside the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas. The center, which closed in late May, was one of more than a dozen unlicensed emergency shelters set up by the federal government to house unaccompanied minors arriving at the border.

Oscar, who just turned 18, talks about why he left Honduras and his dreams for a new life in the U.S. But like so many others, Oscar’s future in this country isn’t clear and will depend on a myriad of factors.

Listen to the story and read the expanded version at KERANews.org and at DallasNews.com.

The Justice Department Overturns Policy That Limited Asylum For Survivors Of Violence

Survivors of domestic and gang violence now have better odds of gaining asylum in the U.S.

On Wednesday, the Justice Department reversed several controversial legal rulings from the Trump administration, in effect restoring the possibility of asylum protections for women fleeing from domestic violence in other countries and families targeted by gang violence.

As Houston Public Media reported in 2018, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued several decisions signaling to immigration courts that violence by a spouse, or gang member, no longer made someone eligible for asylum, even if going back to their country was a death sentence.

In a memo explaining why the government is now vacating those rulings, Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta wrote that “these decisions involve important questions about the meaning of our Nation's asylum laws, which reflect America's commitment to providing refuge to some of the world's most vulnerable people.”

Read more from NPR.

After Decade-Long Wait, Family Of Slain Afghan U.S. Military Interpreter Arrives In Houston

The family of an Afghan interpreter killed by the Taliban for his work with the U.S. military arrived in Houston this weekend, the culmination of a 10-year wait for resettlement.

Military veterans and refugee advocates greeted the family of the slain interpreter at George Bush Intercontinental Airport Saturday night with yellow roses and American flags.

But the Afghan family’s long-awaited arrival is a bittersweet one, since the husband and father — who is referred to by his middle name, “Mohammad” — was murdered by the Taliban in January 2021, shortly after he was notified that his family’s visa to the U.S. received initial approval. Read the full story from Houston Public Media.

Gov. Abbott’s Proposal To Build A Wall Draws Scrutiny

Gov. Greg Abbott announced plans to build a border wall with state funds and the help of crowdfunding.

That idea was met with skepticism by political scientists and other critics. As Houston Public Media’s Andrew Schneider reports, they say it may not be legal or financially probable.

Critics also say Abbott’s announcement was more likely prompted by his plans to run for governor again.

Read more about this from Houston Public Media.

Gov. Abbott’s Crowdfunding Idea To Pay For Border Wall Isn’t New

As Texas Public Radio Reporter Pablo De La Rosa writes, Steve Bannon, former President Trump’s chief strategist, helped raise $25 million from private donors in 2018 to pay for the wall.

The Department of Justice, however, found Bannon and others funneled some of those funds to themselves. Indictments and arrests followed.

Abbott has said his office would oversee the border wall fund.

Migrant Families Separated At The Border And Later Reunited

NPR Morning Edition Host Rachel Martin spoke this week with NPR National Correspondent Joel Rose and Morning Edition producer Lilly Quiroz about families who were separated at the border under former President Trump's policies.

A father and son who traveled from El Salvador talk about their separation of two months and of their reunion. Both are still dealing with the trauma of that experience.

Listen to the entire story here.

Got a tip? Email Stella M. Chávez at schavez@kera.org. You can follow Stella on Twitter @stellamchavez.

KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gifttoday. Thank you.

Copyright 2021 KERA. To see more, visit KERA.

Stella Chávez is KERA’s education reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35. The award-winning entry was  “Yolanda’s Crossing,” a seven-part DMN series she co-wrote that reconstructs the 5,000-mile journey of a young Mexican sexual-abuse victim from a small Oaxacan village to Dallas. For the last two years, she worked for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where she was part of the agency’s outreach efforts on the Affordable Care Act and ran the regional office’s social media efforts.