Arya Sundaram

Arya Sundaram is a reporting fellow at the Texas Observer and hails from North Carolina. Her immigration and criminal justice journalism has appeared in the Atlantic, the Guardian, and the Texas Tribune. You can contact her at [email protected]

By Arya Sundaram:


Barrier Breaking

by | Wed, Mar 17, 2021 at 8:00 am CST

How Texas Courts Went Virtual

The administrator responsible for moving hearings online during the COVID-19 pandemic talks about the future of Zoom court.

In a West Texas district court Zoom hearing on Tuesday, an unexpected face joined the meeting: a cat. Or, more accurately, 69-year-old Presidio County Attorney Rod Ponton, trapped in a virtual filter. His face replaced with the countenance of a … Read More

News, Political Intelligence, The Issue

Payday and Car Title Lenders in Texas Won More Than $45 Million in Pandemic Aid

Despite trapping people in a cycle of debt, predatory lenders in the Lone Star State raked in millions meant to help people get their financial footing.

Last spring, Federal Cash Advance of Oklahoma, LLC raked in nearly $1 million in a single transaction. That money came from the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which grants forgivable loans to small businesses to alleviate the financial turmoil wrought … Read More

Texas Politics

Will the Texas Legislature Stop Police from Arresting People for Fine-Only Offenses?

After years of failed attempts, Texas lawmakers are again trying to curb petty arrests that disproportionately target people of color.

Update: On Monday, Marco Puente agreed to a $200,000 settlement in his lawsuit against two police officers with the City of Keller. On a broiling August day last year, Dillon Puente drove through the Fort Worth suburb of Keller to … Read More

A logo sign and oil pump outside of a facility occupied by Schlumberger in Windsor, Colorado, on July 21, 2018. (Photo by Kristoffer Tripplaar/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

The Oil and Gas Industry Still Hasn’t Reckoned with #MeToo

Groping. Catcalling. Crude texts. We spoke to women in the oil industry who say they faced sexual harassment and were punished for speaking out.

With stunning precision, Sara Saidman, an oil field engineer, can still recall the moment that “set the tone for the rest of my employment at Schlumberger,” a Texas-based oil field services company. Saidman took a job at Schlumberger in 2016 … Read More

Voters walk through the gates to the polling site entrance Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, at Burns Elementary School in Brownsville, Texas.(Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald via AP)

Local Organizers Explain the Republican Surge in South Texas

Democrats have long taken Latino voters for granted, while Republicans have worked to fill that organizing void.

Danny Diaz wasn’t shocked when he heard about the Republican surge along the Texas-Mexico border that confounded so many national pundits last week. The majority Latino region has long been a Democratic stronghold, communities there have been ravaged by COVID-19, … Read More

Criminal Justice

How Texas Jails Avoid Investigations of Inmate Deaths

Every Texas jail death is supposed to be investigated. But a recent case shows how facilities skirt the law and avoid scrutiny.

Early last year, Holly Barlow-Austin cut off her ankle monitor and headed to Dallas. She lived with her husband in Texarkana, a small town on the border of Texas and Arkansas. But despite the restrictions of her probation, she decided … Read More