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:

Joe Corley Detention Facility
Criminal Justice

The Private Prison Industry (Finally) Faces an Uncertain Future

Traditionally, for-profit jailers have drawn bipartisan support. But Trump, the sector’s ostensible savior, has made the industry a lightning rod.

Donald Trump is a private prison kind of guy. America’s two for-profit titans of incarceration—GEO Group and CoreCivic—pitched in $500,000 for his inauguration. Almost immediately after Trump took office, his Justice Department reversed an Obama-era move to partially phase out … Read More

In this July 18, 2019, file photo, people walk back to Mexico on International Bridge 1 Las Americas, a legal port of entry which connects Laredo, Texas in the U.S. with Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. An unprecedented number of families have been coming to the southern border over the past year, straining government resources and resulting in dangerously overcrowded detention facilities. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte, File)

Attacked in Mexico, Returned to Mexico: Trump Policy Ignores Danger to Asylum-Seekers

The Migrant Protection Protocols are failing to protect migrants from imminent kidnapping and violence.

Under the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), the Trump administration has returned more than 48,000 asylum-seekers since January to await their court dates in Mexico, a country where kidnapping and assault of migrants is rampant. Over the course of two months, … Read More

Police arrest Occupy Austin protesters outside Austin City Hall in 2011.
Criminal Justice

Video: ‘Traumatic, Unnecessary’ Arrest of Austin Woman Shows How Cops Can Worsen Mental Health Crises

Bodycam footage of police arresting a young woman diagnosed with schizophrenia shows how Texas cops turn mental health emergencies into traumatic confrontations—and even deportations.

Everything was fine, until suddenly it wasn’t.  On the morning of July 19, 2018, Tania Silva was wandering through East Austin, acting oddly. Silva, a 21-year-old community college student diagnosed with schizophrenia, was off her medication. At one point, she … Read More

Migrants who are applying for asylum in the United States go through a processing area at a new tent courtroom at the Migration Protection Protocols Immigration Hearing Facility, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, in Laredo, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Immigration Judge Slams ‘Remain in Mexico’ Tent Courts

“It's more like what you might see, perhaps, in China or Russia,” says Ashley Tabaddor, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges.

As of mid-September, more than 45,000 migrants have been returned to Mexico to await their court proceedings under the sweeping Trump policy known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). The measure—which rolled out in January in California before expanding to … Read More

The new tent court facility in Laredo.

Migrants at Laredo Tent Court Tell Stories of Kidnappings and Violence While Pleading Not to Be Returned to Mexico

Under Trump’s Migrant Protection Protocols, asylum-seekers have been waiting for their hearings in Mexico. Many aren’t making it back to court.

On Monday morning, 52 asylum-seekers were scheduled to appear in court at a complex of tent structures hastily constructed next to one of Laredo’s international bridges. More than 150 miles away in San Antonio, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez sat in her … Read More

Seagulls fly at the proposed site for a liquefied natural gas export facility along the Brownsville Ship Channel.

Bridge to Nowhere

Where the Texas Gulf Coast meets Mexico, a trio of fossil fuel companies is planning an industrial complex the likes of which Texas’ Rio Grande Valley has never seen.

Where the Texas Gulf Coast meets Mexico, a trio of fossil fuel companies is planning an industrial complex the likes of which Texas’ Rio Grande Valley has never seen. by Gus Bova September 16, 2019  Somewhere along the road … Read More

Beto O'Rourke, Julian Castro

Texas’ Presidential Candidates Break Out Briefly During the Democratic Debate

But it’s probably not enough to challenge the frontrunners.

by Amal Ahmed, Gus Bova, and Andrea Valdez September 13, 2019 The third Democratic presidential debate and all its attendant hullabaloo stampeded into Texas Thursday night. It was a historic night for Texas Southern University, the historically black university in … Read More

border wall

The Trump Administration Blows Its Border Wall Budget in South Texas

A Texas Observer review of federal documents found that Congress gave CBP $445 million to build 25 miles of border wall in Hidalgo County. The money only paid for 13 miles.

The border wall contains multitudes. It’s a monument to racism, a minor inconvenience for would-be border crossers, and a hydrological threat to floodplain communities along the Rio Grande. It’s also a black hole for your tax dollars. In the South … Read More

The tent court facility in Laredo.

Journalists Blocked from Attending Secretive Immigration Tent Courts

Normally, the press can observe immigration court proceedings. But journalists are being turned away from the first asylum hearings in Laredo under the Migrant Protection Protocols.

The Trump administration is conducting asylum hearings in makeshift tent facilities by the ports of entry in Laredo and Brownsville for migrants who have been forced to wait months in Mexico under the chaotic Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program. And … Read More