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:


Under Trump, Islamophobic Pastor John Hagee’s Star Rises Again

Despite closing in on 80 years old, San Antonio megachurch pastor John Hagee may be a man in renaissance.

On a Sunday morning in late June, John Hagee took the stage in his palatial north San Antonio megachurch, his white hair slicked back and his imposing jowls obscuring the upper third of his shirt collar. A month earlier, he’d been … Read More


ICE Crashed a Van Full of Separated Mothers, Then Denied It Ever Happened

"The crash was really strong, like maybe we were going to flip," said one mom. "There was no crash," said ICE.

Leer en español. On July 18, a cargo van transporting eight Central American mothers separated from their children under Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy crashed into a pickup truck in San Marcos. An ICE contractor was taking the women from a … Read More


Trump Administration Sets Up Potential Deportation Factory for Reunified Families in South Texas

The for-profit Karnes County facility is a hotspot in a nationwide fight against swift deportations of reunified families, who may have had their rights violated while detained.

As the Trump administration fights in court for the right to immediately deport reunified families, it’s setting up a deportation factory in South Texas to carry out the plan, according to court filings and attorneys. Most of the more than … Read More


Latino Lawmakers Call for State-Funded Immigration Representation, More Oversight of Detention Centers

In response to Trump’s family separations and detention, Texas Democrats are pressing for changes to state law and a potential crackdown on the private prison industry.

A coalition of civil rights groups and Texas Democrats laid out a plan Tuesday for responding to the federal government’s separation and detention of migrant families. Lawmakers called for the state to pay for legal representation for children and parents … Read More


Deal Finalized to Revive Notorious 1,000-Bed South Texas Immigrant Detention Facility

Willacy County officials have yet to release the details of the deal, which comes less than two years after the county sued the same company over mismanagement of the facility.

On Wednesday, private prison company MTC announced it had finalized a deal to revive the notorious immigrant detention facility once known as “Ritmo,” in the tiny South Texas town of Raymondville. In a press release, MTC said the newly christened … Read More


‘Treated Worse than Dogs’: Immigrant Kids in Detention Give Firsthand Accounts of Squalid Conditions

Hundreds of immigrant children and parents in federal detention facilities say they’ve endured inedible food, verbal and physical abuse and a lack of medical treatment.

The Trump administration is unlawfully mistreating immigrant kids at every stage of its detention system, according to new court filings that include firsthand accounts written by hundreds of children and parents. The allegations, filed this week as part of an … Read More


‘Recipe for Disaster’: New Family Detention Center Could Open in South Texas

The proposed facility — a shuttered nursing home in San Diego, Texas — would be run by a British private prison company with a history of alleged abuses in Australia and England.

Trump’s desire to jail thousands of immigrant families for months at a time has rekindled an economic romance between a tiny South Texas county and a British security megafirm. Duval County Judge Ricardo Carrillo told the Observer that Serco Inc. … Read More

Pete Gallego, Roland Gutierrez

Could Private Prison Cash Become a Liability for Texas Democrats?

Two candidates in a San Antonio special election are beefing over contributions from a private prison firm linked to Trump’s family separations.

Trump’s family separations scandal has reared its head in the San Antonio race to replace disgraced former state Senator Carlos Uresti. On Tuesday, Democratic state Representative Roland Gutierrez lashed out at one of his opponents in the race to replace … Read More