Gus Bova

Gus Bova writes about the Texas-Mexico border, immigration, labor, politics, and occasionally other topics. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @gusbova

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

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