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On Fronteras: Legal Help For Detained Families, Life In The Colonias, A Border Reunion

Joy Diaz
KUT Public Radio
Sara Beltran-Rodriguez's daughter Neyely has a brain tumor. Karnes County Residential Center granted the family temporary medical asylum.

This week on Fronteras:

--A half-million people on the Texas-Mexico border live in colonias which often lack running water, electricity and basic services.  The Obama Administration wants border states to spend more money to improve life in these communities.

--The Cardinal considered to be Pope Francis’ most reliable advisor blames Mexican drugs lords for the surge of Central American children crossing the border into the United States.

--Attorneys get courtroom training on how to win asylum for detained immigrant mothers and children.

--The homeless are ordered into drug treatment in Tijuana, but how good are the services they are getting?

--For only the second time, the California-Mexico border opens and two boys emotionally reunite with their mother for a few precious moments.

 Life in Colonia Communities

About 500,000 Texans live in colonias. They’re communities that spring up near the Texas-Mexico border and often lack the basics like paved roads, utilities and secure housing. 

A study just released by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas looks at life in colonia communities.  KERA’s Courtney Collins reports colonia residents are innovative but they still lack many basic needs.


Obama Wants More Money for Colonia Improvement

The Obama administration wants the four border states that receive federal funds for colonia improvements to increase their colonia spending by 50 percent. The announcement comes as scientists say the health risks of living in the colonias are too severe to ignore. Fronteras reporter Lorne Matalon of Marfa Public Radio has that story.


Honduras Cardinal Blames Drug Lords for Immigrant Children Coming to Texas

The migration of unaccompanied children from Central America into the United States overwhelmed border services a year ago.  The rainy season is ending in Central America and governments are waiting to see if we’ll have another surge of children into South Texas.

A leading advisor to Pope Francis visited San Antonio this week. Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga is Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras.

He weighed in on what may have propelled the massive movement of children from his country, El Salvador, and Guatemala last summer He believes drug lords organized the migration to divert attention from their trafficking activities.

Story airing on Texas Public Radio

Mexico Deports Record Number of Children

Since last fall, the Mexican government has deported a record number of children travelling without a guardian.  A Pew Research Center analysis of Mexican Interior Department numbers show the country deported more than 3,800 unaccompanied minors from Central America in the first five months of fiscal 2015.  That’s a 56-percent increase over the same time frame a year ago.  President Obama and U.S. officials say that has contributed to a significant drop in children being apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Attorneys Learn How to Defend Asylum Cases

Advocates say immigrant mothers and children who’ve been detained need pro bono attorneys to represent them.  It’s their best chance at being released. Lawyers taking on these cases need specialized training and the University of Texas School of Law recently provided that.  Joy Diaz of KUT in Austin visited a detention center in rural Karnes County, Texas, and sat in on the legal training.


Homeless Get Drug Treatment in Tijuana

Hundreds of people who were living in a Tijuana river canal near the border are now in rehabilitation centers. The Tijuana mayor sent them there to get treatment for drug addictions.  Fronteras reporter Jean Guerrero of KPBS visited some of the rehab centers and tells us what patients think of treatment they're getting. 


Emotional Reunion at Border

Fronteras reporter Jean Guerrero of KPBS keeps a regular watch on the U.S. Mexico border and this week a rare event happened in honor of Mexico’s El Dia Del Nino, Children's Day.   Since 1925, Mexico has designated April 30 as Children’s Day.   The occasion focuses attention on loving, accepting and appreciating children.  Last Sunday, that stood out poignantly as a steel door at the border fence between San Diego and Tijuana opened for only the second time.  Four divided families reunited joyously, for a few brief, but very memorable minutes.


Shelley Kofler is Texas Public Radio’s news director. She joined the San Antonio station in December 2014 and leads a growing staff that produces two weekly programs; a daily talk show, news features, reports and online content. Prior to TPR, Shelley served as the managing editor and news director at KERA in Dallas-Fort Worth, and the Austin bureau chief and legislative reporter for North Texas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.