A message from Carlos...
July began on a sad note with Texas saying farewell to former Governor Dolph Briscoe. One of those larger-than-life figures that Texas produces from time to time, Governor Briscoe loved his state and never stopped boasting about its greatness.
He should know. He helped make it that way.
Briscoe's contributions to Texas came in numerous ways — as a veteran who served in World War II, as a state legislator and governor, as a rancher, businessman and steward of the land, as a community leader and champion of the working man, as a reliable neighbor and loving husband, father and grandfather.
When Briscoe died on June 27 at age 87, longtime friends, associates and students of Texas history mourned his passing, but they also celebrated his many accomplishments, the honesty and integrity he brought to the governor's office and his personal affairs, his generous spirit and his zest for life.
Dolph Briscoe leaves a great legacy for the rest of us to follow. As we go about celebrating the Fourth of July this year, let's remember how he exemplified the great things that America and Texas stand for — country, family, liberty, equality, opportunity and freedom.
Senator Uresti's Latest Pictures
Click an image to see more images from May.
True immigration reform should top the national agenda
The Obama Administration's decision to send a second drone aircraft to patrol the Texas-Mexico border was a small yet welcome step. The federal government has an obligation to protect our borders, and Texans who live there deserve to feel secure in their schools, businesses and homes.
But make no mistake. A sky full of drones and the presence of military troops and chain-link fences could never adequately substitute for fair, comprehensive immigration reform.
Meaningful reform is necessary for the long-term economic needs and political stability of both the United States and Mexico, but it cannot come without compromise, understanding and a willingness by Democrats and Republicans to move forward.
President Obama recently met with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in an effort spur the legislative process on immigration reform. That is another positive step, but too often in Washington, particularly on this issue, talk doesn't translate into action.
Yet almost daily the news headlines point to the need for an immigration policy that provides security, common sense and compassion.
The fear that drug cartel violence in Mexico could spill into Texas is legitimate, and the illegal human trafficking that is rampant along the border threatens public safety, undermines the rule of law and imposes an unfair burden on local governments.
A common-sense policy would also recognize that the vast majority of unauthorized immigrants want little more than to provide for their families, and there should be a secure, orderly process for them to live and work in the United States.
It would also create a path to citizenship for people like Eric Balderas, who was brought to Texas by his family when he was a small child.
Balderas excelled at Highlands High School and had just finished his freshman year at Harvard when he was arrested at San Antonio International Airport. Immigration officials have rightly deferred his case, but the final outcome is still in question because we don't have a policy that acknowledges his value or recognizes the great potential he could bring to his community.
The public outcry sparked by Balderas' case and Arizona's tough new immigration law should serve as a wakeup call to President Obama and Congress that comprehensive immigration reform should be at the top the national agenda.
Conventional wisdom says that such a controversial issue cannot be addressed in an election year, but that just acknowledges a lack of political courage. We cannot even hope that a reform measure would pass unless both sides are willing to compromise, no matter the proximity to the next election.
In a first step toward compromise, we should all be able to agree that the United States has a right to protect its borders, and that business and industry have a duty to respect immigration law.
We should also make a distinction between those responsible for the cartel violence along the border and those who are merely seeking a living wage. Those who spread violence and drugs deserve the full measure of the law. Those who bring only humility and the desire to work should be afforded that opportunity.
And we should also agree that the formation, implementation and enforcement of immigration policy are federal responsibilities. Arizona's controversial immigration law is misguided, but it was born out of a legitimate frustration with federal inaction and ineffectiveness.
That is why Congress must roll up its sleeves and get to work on a fair and workable immigration policy that secures our borders and respects human rights while addressing the needs of migrant workers as well as the business interests, wage earners and consumers in the United States.
If we work together in compromise and cooperation, immigration reform can be accomplished for the good of our nation. Election year or not, there is no time like the present.
Update on Blue Ribbon Task Force
The Statewide Blue Ribbon Task Force heard some expert advice and gave the media a progress report during its monthly June meeting, hosted by the St. Peter - St. Joseph Children's Home in San Antonio.
Judge Peter Sakai, a veteran jurist who presides over child custody and other family law cases in Bexar County, and Mark Carmona of the Center for Health Care Services discussed the importance of coordination among state agencies, private service providers and the courts in developing new child abuse prevention strategies.
Sakai said Bexar County is committed to making improvements and changes in its approach to prevention, but we in the Legislature must give counties more leeway to act.
Last year there were 68,300 confirmed cases of child abuse in Texas, resulting in 280 deaths, including 13 in Bexar County.
Those numbers tell us an epidemic is underway, spurred by all the usual suspects: poverty, lack of education and marginal job skills, teen pregnancy, immature parents and troubled moms and dads caught up in a cycle of abuse they themselves experienced as kids.
Everyone knows that the best way to 'treat' a disease is to prevent it. The Blue Ribbon Task Force recognizes that simple, yet powerful approach and is looking at better ways to apply it to child abuse. We must find new ways to get in front of this problem by emphasizing prevention.
Here in San Antonio, we have experienced some success at focusing on prevention through the efforts of the local Blue Ribbon Task Force. One of our goals is to apply this approach statewide, and we are exploring ways to expand.
Dr. Christopher Greeley of Houston, the task force chairman, told reporters that there's not going to be an easy fix. Child abuse is a tragic and complex problem, he said, and the solutions are going to be complex as well.
Buckle Up Those Kids!
It's summer vacation time, and many Texans are hitting the road to visit our abundant lakes, parks, and other natural areas and historic sites. If you're not already following the new law on child safety seats, there's no time like the present to start.
If your child is younger than 8 and shorter than 4 feet, 9 inches, they must be secured in a child safety seat. That law went into effect Sept. 1, 2009, but the Department of Public Safety gave motorists a nine-month grace period on enforcement.
The grace period ended June 1, just in time for the summer travel season. So, for your child's sake — and your wallet's — start following this new rule. Now that the grace period is over, officers may issue tickets carrying fines that range from $25 for the first offense to $250 for each subsequent offense.
And don't forget that all adults in a vehicle must now wear safety belts — even those riding in the back seat. Have fun on your summer vacation, and be safe.
And if you're going to visit the state Capitol…
Remember that security is tighter for visitors these days, but it's a small inconvenience to endure for the history and grandeur waiting for you inside this magnificent building.
Metal detectors have been installed at all Capitol entrances on the first floor, and the same procedures for going through apply to everyone — legislators, Capitol staff members and public visitors — who enters on this floor. Visitors will be asked to remove metal objects before they walk through, and troopers will search bags as necessary. Wheelchair-bound visitors will be checked with handheld wands.
Concealed handgun license holders and law enforcement officers not in uniform may show their license or agency credentials to avoid the detectors, while troopers will make sure that the CHL has not been revoked.
Groups wanting to set up a tour of the Capitol should contact the State Preservation Board for information about the tour process.
And don't forget to stop by my office in the Capitol Underground for a visit: Room E1.810
New ways to nab the bad guys
The Texas Department of Public Safety has made it easier for citizens to help law enforcement apprehend Texas' 10 Most Wanted fugitives.
With a high-tech addition to an old standby — the Crime Stoppers phone line — citizens can now submit tips by text or electronically through the DPS website. Both methods will maintain the sender's anonymity.
From your cell phone, you can text DPS followed by your tip to 274637 (CRIMES). To submit a tip through the website, go to http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/wanted/ and click on the photo of the fugitive you have information about.
DPS Director Steven McCraw said this approach will appeal to a younger demographic, make the process more convenient and generate additional tips.
Of course, you can still call the 24-hour Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-252-TIPS (8477).
Either way, the reward for information on each fugitive has been increased to $5,000.
Big Bend celebrates a birthday!
The Rio Grande has been flowing toward the Gulf of Mexico for millennia, but the park that was created by the river's hard left turn is much, much younger.
Still, at 75, Big Bend National Park has been around plenty long enough to become a crown jewel in the national park system and one of Texas' greatest attractions.
And the National Park Service is not letting this birthday go unsung.
Big Bend National Park was officially authorized by Congress on June 20, 1935. It took another nine years for the park to get established, and only about 1,000 visitors came during that first season. Today, more than 350,000 people come to the park annually to enjoy its rugged beauty and isolation.
As part of the 75th anniversary celebration, the Panther Junction Post Office is offering a special pictorial cancellation through the end of August. If you can't get to the park in person this year, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to:
Big Bend National Park
P.O. Box 20
Big Bend National Park, Texas 79834-9998
Also commemorating the anniversary is a special book, The Grandest Thing: Our National Parks in Words, Images and Stamps. Both the post office and Panther Junction bookstore are selling the book.
See the park here:
A first for Big Bend and Texas…
Ignited by lightning on May 21, a wildfire in Big Bend spurred the first smokejumper deployment in Texas history, according to the National Park Service.
Five smokejumpers from Silver City, N.M., landed safely on May 30 to help manage the fire, which began 1.5 miles west of Castolon and south of the road to Santa Elena Canyon. The beneficial fire in the historic Sublett Farming District of the park burned invasive and exotic species of salt cedar and giant river cane.
The Park Service said it was the southernmost fire jump ever made in the United States and the first in Texas.
Well, not all of us. Our West Texas district office has a new address:
312 S. Cedar
Pecos, Texas 79772
Click the links below to learn more about Senator Carlos Uresti and how the community has rewarded his hard work.
Awards and Recognitions
• 2010 Campaign Endorsements
Click here for more news about Senator Uresti and Senate District 19.
McDonald Observatory Star Party
Tuesdays, Fridays, & Saturdays
May 1 - August 31
McDonald Observatory Visitors Center
3640 Dark Sky Drive
McDonald Observatory, Texas 79734
Night in Old Pecos & Canteloupe Festival
Saturday, July 24
6 pm - 12 am
Texas AgriLife Extension Service hosts Range Management Workshop
Monday, July 26
8 am - 12:30 pm
Kinney County Civic Center
200 East Spring St.
Bracketville, Texas 78832
San Antonio District Office
Falcon International Bank
2530 SW Military Drive
San Antonio, Texas 78224
Toll Free 1.800.459.0119
Eagle Pass District Office
Maverick County Courthouse
501 Main Street
Eagle Pass, Texas 78852
Pecos District Office
312 S. Cedar
Pecos, Texas 79772
P.O. Box 12068
Austin, Texas 78711