© 2020 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

On Fronteras: Government Skeptics Are Watching As Military Exercises Begin

jade-helm-logo.png

 

   On Fronteras:

·        Jade Helm military exercises began in seven states, with government skeptics concerned about the intent of the training.  At training sites near Bastrop, Texas, residents there are divided over whether the troops are involved in activities that threaten civil liberties. 

·        A spokesperson for the Special Operations Command says the military is working hard to counter fears that Jade Helm troops are planning to detain citizens or implement some kind of martial law.

·         Drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo”Guzmán has escaped from a maximum-security prison in Mexico.  This is the second time he’s done that.   

·        Immigrant detention centers in Texas are starting to release some mothers and their children.

·        Texas and 25 other states have filed a lawsuit to block programs that prevent the deportation of some immigrants.

·         In New Mexico there’s an effort to use fire now to fight fire later, and protect the watersheds in the process.

Bastrop Residents Divided Over Jade Helm 15 Exercises 

A two-month military training exercise called Jade Helm 15 began in the Southwest this week.  Military exercises are nothing new, but this one has generated warnings from conservative activists suspicious of federal government intentions.

Texas is one of seven states where the elite special operations troops are training. Two of the training sites are near the small town of Bastrop, Texas, southeast of Austin.  The people who live there are divided over whether the military troops are involved in activities that threaten civil liberties. 

Ryan Poppe of Texas Public Radio reports a group opposed to the exercises is keeping a close watch over troop movements and Governor Greg Abbot has stoked some of the paranoia by ordering State Guard members to monitor the operation.  

Here’s the story.

jade_helm_15_map.png
Credit US Army Special Operations Command
/

U.S. Army Spokesman Explains Jade Helm 15

Jade Helm is not the biggest training exercise the U.S. military has undertaken, but it is the biggest for the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.  

Lt. Col. Mark Lastoria is the spokesperson for the Special Operations Command and says the military has worked hard to counter fears that the troops are planning to detain citizens or implement some kind of martial law.

jade_helm_-lc_lastoria_7-14-15.mp3
Interview with Lt. Col. Mark Lastoria airing on Texas Public Radio

“Overwhelmingly we’ve seen a trend where people have recognized this training exercise will not violate any of their rights.  We’ve used a lot of engagement with mainstream media to put out the facts associated with this training exercise.  The information that was provided at all the county courts commissioners meetings had facts presented,” he said.

Lastoria says the facts presented to local governments and citizen groups include an explanation of what this specific training is trying to do.

“Over the past 14 years in Afghanistan and Iraq we’ve been focusing on direct action and foreign and internal defense.  What this training exercise is going to give us the opportunity to work on is our unconventional warfare skills.”

If you aren’t familiar with that term – unconventional warfare skills – here’s the definition from the Army’s website:  “missions which allow U.S. military to enter a country and covertly build relationships with local militia.”

The website says tactics may include subversion, sabotage and intelligence collection designed to prevent larger conventional attacks.

The most elite of forces are taking part in the Jade Helm training: Navy SEALS, the Army’s Green Beret troops, the famed 82nd Airborne and special Marine units.

In Texas, troops- including a large contingent of paratroopers- will drill at San Antonio’s Camp Bullis, which encompasses 28,000 acres.  They’ll also sharpen their skills on private property in smaller, more remote communities like Bastrop, Goliad, Junction and Leakey.

The military says citizens may see more Humvees and aircraft in training areas.  There may be more noise.  But the exercises will be confined to the properties where permission has been given. 

Mexican Drug Lord "El Chapo" Escapes Again

Drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo”Guzmán has escaped from a maximum-security prison in Mexico.  This is the second time he’s done that.    The last time he evaded authorities for 13 years.  The escape jeopardizes claims by the Mexican government that it’s serious about cracking down on the leaders of organized crime. Lorne Matalon of Marfa Public Radio has this report.  

Detained Immigrant Mothers and Children Released

Immigrant detention centers in Texas are starting to release some mothers and their children. That's because Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is changing the way families who come across the border are detained. KUT's Joy Diaz reports immigrant advocates are calling the changes a good first start.  

diaz_ice_changes_policy_on_detained_mothers_mix.mp3
Joy Diaz' report on changes in ICE policy.

States Want To Stop Deportation Relief

A new nationwide survey shows recipients of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program are getting better jobs, earning higher wages and going to college.  The U-S Citizenship Immigration Services says about 665-thousand immigrants have received deferred action since the Obama administration implemented it three years ago.

What that means is that immigrants covered by the program cannot currently be deported just because they migrated to the U.S. as children without documentation.  

But Texas and 25 other states have filed a lawsuit to block deportation for programs like DACA.  As Ed Mayberry of Houston Public Media reports, domestic workers from Houston and other cities traveled to New Orleans as the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments on the case.  

Here’s the story 

Survey:  Program Easing Deportation Benefits Immigrants

Tom Wong, who teaches political science at the University of California in San Diego, spoke with Peggy Pico of Fronteras affiliate KPBS about the economic impact of DACA and whether the arguments that Texas is making have merit.  

Here’s their conversation

Eco Fires Help New Mexico Forest Watersheds

We’re heading west now to New Mexico where this year’s spring rains and snow eased that state’s drought and made it less likely there will be huge wildfires that blacken the region.  ​. But fire ecologists say it’s not a matter of if there will be fires.  It’s when. 

So there’s an effort to use fire now to fight fire later, and protect the watersheds in the process.  ​Rita Daniels has this report.  

  

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.