Gus Bova

Gus Bova reports on immigration, the U.S.-Mexico border and grassroots movements for the Observer. He formerly worked at a shelter for asylum-seekers and refugees. You can contact him at [email protected]

By Gus Bova:

The first panels of levee border wall are seen at a construction site along the U.S.-Mexico border, Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019, in Donna, Texas. The new section, with 18-foot tall steel bollards atop a concrete wall, will stretch approximately 8 miles. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

2020: The Year Trump’s Wall Rises or Falls

The president may be incompetent and behind schedule, but he’s done damage already. And a lot more could be on the way.

2020 could be the year that Trump’s border wall finally rises or falls.  After nearly three years in office, Donald Trump is months behind schedule on his signature campaign promise—and he’s fending off criticism from both the right and left … Read More

Tents toward the back of the lot at the governor's camp.
Human Rights

Greg Abbott’s ‘Indefinite,’ Imperfect Homeless Camp

Scenes from Abbottville.

Just off Highway 183 in southeast Austin, twin rows of weathered, garage-like structures line a mostly vacant 7-acre paved lot. The property, a former maintenance yard for state-owned vehicles, lies between a mobile home park and a heavy equipment dealership. … Read More

Detainees walk toward a fenced recreation area during a media tour at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019, in Tacoma, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

A World Without Immigrant Prisons

Law professor and author César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández wants you to believe it’s possible.

“I imagine a future that looks more like United States history than United States present. I imagine a future in which immigration prisons do not exist.” Those provocative lines come from the conclusion of Migrating to Prison: America’s Obsession with … Read More


‘We Build the Wall’ Lands in South Texas, Vilifies Priest and Butterfly Refuge

Accusing a priest of supporting human trafficking and a nature center of butterfly-smuggling is one way to make friends when you’re the new kid in town.

A nonprofit dedicated to carrying out President Donald Trump’s vision of a border wall has arrived in South Texas. The group, We Build the Wall, plans to use private funds to erect a 3-mile stretch of 18-foot steel fence on … Read More

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, is seen before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Dirksen Building titled "The Secure and Protect Act: a Legislative Fix to the Crisis at the Southwest Border," on Tuesday, June 11, 2019. Kevin McAleenan, acting secretary of Department of Homeland Security, testified. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

John Cornyn’s Weaselly Immigration Record

How to say one thing and do another.

On a June afternoon in 2007, U.S. Senator John Cornyn sounded eminently reasonable. In a floor speech, the rangy, snow-haired Texan said that of all the legislative issues he’d wrangled with during his four and a half years in the … Read More

Human Rights

Governor Launches Camp, Backs ‘Mega-Tent’ for Austin’s Homeless, Surprising Advocates

The governor and Austin’s business community announced plans for a temporary campsite and a future “mega-tent” shelter for the city's homeless community. They’re working separately from local homeless service providers.

After a months-long campaign of smearing Austin’s homeless as violent and disease-ridden, Governor Greg Abbott announced Thursday he was designating 5 acres of state-owned land in southeast Austin as an authorized homeless encampment. The same day, with Abbott’s support, the … Read More

William walks away from his campsite.
Human Rights

Governor Clears Out Camps. Austin’s Homeless Remain Homeless.

Greg Abbott began clearing out the camps under Austin’s highways Monday, over the objections of the homeless and their advocates.

On Monday afternoon, state troopers, officials from the state transportation department, and cleaning contractors descended on a homeless encampment beneath Texas State Highway 71 in South Austin. For the next four hours, the crew loaded crates and bags with cans, … Read More

Human Rights

Greg Abbott vs. Austin’s Homeless

As Texas’ governor promotes sensational stories of homeless violence and threatens a state crackdown, the people living on Austin’s streets tell a different story.

Update: On Monday, November 4, the state began clearing out homeless encampments under highways in Austin at Governor Greg Abbott’s behest. Unhoused Austinites left with the possessions they could carry. Some said they’d spend a night or two in the … Read More

In this March 7, 2015 file photo, trash bags are piled within the northern fence at the Willacy County Correctional Center as clean up begins at the emptied detention facility in Raymondville, Texas. Management and Training Corp. recently purchased the detention center that was shuttered after a 2015 inmate riot left it uninhabitable. (David Pike/Valley Morning Star via AP, File)
Human Rights

A Small County Bets Big on Locking Up Undocumented Immigrants

Jones County has an empty prison and a load of debt. Their solution? Dust off the old prison and fill it with undocumented migrants.

By late November, residents of Jones County, a swath of Texas plains home to some 20,000 souls, should have new neighbors: about 1,000 undocumented immigrant men held in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody. Local politicians are excited about the … Read More