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Texas Matters: Abbott's Botched Border Blockade, Delta Hits Texas and 'Forget The Alamo'

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David Martin Davies
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Alamo Plaza

A U.S. district judge has granted a temporary restraining order against the state of Texas and Gov. Greg Abbott. The Department of Justice has sued Abbott over his executive order to stop anyone not in law enforcement from transporting migrants in the state.

Over the last few months, Abbott has directed state troopers and the national guard to arrest thousands of those migrants. Immigration policy is under the purview of the federal government not states. So, how did the governor amass this power and is it legal?

Delta COVID Hits Texas

The Texas Department of State Health Services reports that COVID related hospitalizations and cases are skyrocketing across Texas. And unvaccinated people are most at risk largely because of the delta variant.

State health leaders reported as of Wednesday the seven-day rolling average for hospitalizations was up roughly 50% statewide. They say they’re seeing a steeper increase in hospitalizations this wave.

In the first two waves of the COVID pandemic the big urban counties were the hot spots. But this time around the smaller cities in Texas are also on the front line due to the low levels of vaccinations in those communities.

In Lubbock, city and health officials are concerned that the growing number will exceed their hospital system again, as reported by Texas Tech Public Media’s Jayme Lozano.

Despite the rise of COVID cases and mounting evidence that children aren’t naturally immune from the effects of the delta variant, Gov. Greg Abbott is refusing to lift his ban on protective masks mandates for independent school districts.

President Biden is calling out Republican-led states — like Texas — for banning mask mandates, as the delta variant drives this summer's wave of new COVID-19 cases across the U.S.

“Florida and Texas account for one-third of all new COVID-19 cases in the entire country. Just two states. Look, we need leadership from everyone and if some governors aren’t willing to do the right thing to beat this pandemic, then they should allow businesses and universities who want to do the right thing to be able to do it,” said Biden.

Gov. Greg Abbott says Texans should exercise personal responsibility, and government mandates are not needed.

President Biden has ordered workers at most federal agencies to either get COVID-19 vaccines or submit to weekly testing. But one agency has gone further. The Department of Veterans Affairs says its frontline health workers must get vaccinated by mid-September or they'll lose their jobs.

But enforcing the mandate — and reaching hesitant employees — is proving to be a challenge. TPR's Carson Frame reports for the American Homefront Project.

Also more Employers are requiring COVID-19 vaccines for their employees. This includes hospitals across Texas.

As Houston Public Media’s Paul DeBenedetto explains, it was a Houston court battle that paved the way for these mandates.

Colonia Flooding

For most people, a rainy day is a minor inconvenience. Even if they experience flooding, it eventually recedes. But that’s not the case for many residents of colonias in Texas.

Colonias are mostly along the border. The state defines them as substandard housing developments, lacking basic services like sewage treatment or drainage.

As Texas Public Radio’s Carolina Cuellar reports, this lack of infrastructure creates a big problem for residents of one Rio Grande Valley colonia every time it rains.

Forget The Alamo

The question, “Do you remember the Alamo?” has changed. It’s now, “HOW do you remember the Alamo?”

A New York Times Bestseller is recasting the historic battle. The authors of “Forget the Alamo” argue that a significant driver for Texas independence was the expansion of slavery. And that the heroic myth of the Alamo is the white washing of history.

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