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Texas Matters: Use of Force On Refugee Teens; Is There A Border Red Shift?

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Bexar County Sheriff’s Deputy Harold Schneider escorts a handcuffed 16-year-old boy at a San Antonio migrant children’s shelter in May 2020.
Credit: Bodycam footage obtained from the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office by the Center For Investigative Reporting: Reveal
Bexar County Sheriff’s Deputy Harold Schneider escorts a handcuffed 16-year-old boy at a San Antonio migrant children’s shelter in May 2020.

In the 2020 election there was a noticeable political shift along the Texas southern border. Donald Trump performed significantly better than expected among the region's electorate.

Zapata County, which is nearly 95% Latino, went for Hillary Clinton by a 33-point margin in 2016. In November, Trump won it by 5 points — the first time it voted Republican since 1920.

Four other South Texas counties which are majority Latino — La Salle, Jim Wells, Kenedy and Kleberg — also flipped from Clinton to Trump. Laredo, an hour’s drive north of Zapata, had the biggest swing toward Trump of any U.S. metro area.

This caught the eye of the Texas Republican Party. They see their long game paying off, which is to convince Latino voters that they are actually Republican voters and that their multi-generational loyalty to the Democratic Party doesn’t fit their conservative values.

The question is: Was this one-off election? And because of crippled COVID-19 pandemic campaigning, Trump’s personality, economic turmoil and smart GOP campaigning using Whatsapp direct messaging and large Spanish language ad buys – the Republicans saw gains but the Democrats will respond and bounce back.

But last weekend’s election of Republican Javier Villalobos as the new mayor of McAllen may indicate that something major is going on with political views along the border.

This is more important than just the political tastes of the border. Winning Latino voters is critically important for the Republican Party of Texas. Latinos are expected to become the largest racial demographic in the state by the end of the year. The GOP has to win more Latino voters to remain in power. And what is happening along the border could be showing that this is the future of Texas.

To help us understand what is happening in the Rio Grande Valley politics, I’m joined by Natasha Altema McNeely Professor of Political Science at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

Use Of Force

An investigation has been launched after newly released body camera footage shows a Bexar County deputy Tasing a migrant teen at a refugee shelter in San Antonio.

The body cam video was obtained by the nonprofit Center for Investigative Reporting and was obtained using the Texas state open records law.

For more, we’re joined by one of the reporters on the story, Laura C. Morel, who is with the Center for Investigative Reporting.

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David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi