Reporting Texas
News and features from UT-Austin's School of Journalism

Texas

‘I Can’t Let You Down’: How Mexican Truckers Are Easing U.S. Driver Shortage While Helping Their Families Back Home

For Juan Martinez and his truck, a trip usually lasts from Monday to Saturday, starting in Mexico and going north into the United States before returning home. He is one of thousands of truck drivers from Mexico, taking jobs to haul freight across the border under a 1991 commercial trucking agreement between the United States and Mexico.
The opportunity of a higher salary is driving more Mexicans with a B1 visitor visa to a profession that is constantly struggling with a worker shortage.
But the industry still needs 78,000 drivers, “The price of everything we buy is going to go up,” said a manager for trucking company, “because it’s going to cost more to move it, because we have less drivers that want to move it.”

Issues, Voting Challenges Made Midterms Personal for Highly Engaged Students

Young voters across a divided nation are being credited by political analysts for preventing a Republican-dominated midterm from coming to life. Yet, that “red wave” did come to shore in the Lone Star State. Every statewide Republican candidate won by double percentage points, and a frustration from the large majority of UT students the day after the election was palpable. Still, at UT Austin, the lead-up to the 2022 midterm election was marked by a strong passion from students getting out the vote and campaigning for ideas and candidates they believed in.

Electric Vehicle Charging Set to Expand in Rural Texas in Next Five Years 

Planning a long-distance trip in an electric vehicle can be tricky, especially in rural parts of Texas where electric vehicle charging stations can be sparse. Texas is working to improve rural access to charging stations. The Federal Highway Administration in September approved $408 million to help the state government to install EV charging stations along designated alternative fuel corridors.

Harm Reduction Services Struggle to Tame Austin’s Accelerating Opioid Overdose Rates

With overdose deaths mounting, harm reduction groups are providing overdose reversal medications and other supplies to ensure safer substance use and generally healthier living. But the groups operate in a legal gray area. 
“This work is important for everybody here,” one clinic coordinator said after a day of outreach in his group’s mobile clinic. “Don’t you know we all can go to jail right now? Because everything that we do is illegal, technically. When I was doing the (safe syringe exchange) van, all of that stuff on there was illegal. But guess what? Ain’t never stopped me.”
The group takes its clinic van to several encampments each Tuesday through Friday, providing Narcan nasal spray, an opioid overdose reversal medication, safe smoke kits, needle exchanges, hygiene supplies, wound care kits and Plan B contraception pills.
“Fundamentally, harm reduction is about saving people’s lives and increasing safety around unsafe behaviors,” said one expert.

Nov 11, 2022

Amid Global Demand for Oil, Gulf Coast Town Grapples With Plans for Offshore Export Terminal

The seemingly laid-back island town of Surfside Beach has found itself at the forefront of oil industry expansion, as a plan to build the Sea Port Oil Terminal, known as SPOT, has divided the community.
The plan includes building an oil pipeline from Harris County through Brazoria County, across vacant lots in the village of Surfside Beach and connecting to a deepwater port 27 nautical miles offshore. 
The construction project is one of six new permit applications for offshore terminals in the Gulf of Mexico to export oil or natural gas to the global market. The permit for the Sea Port Oil Terminal has received more than 37,000 public comments, and a final decision on permit approval is expected this month from the U.S. Maritime Administration.

Nov 06, 2022

Political Action Groups Battle for Texas School Board Power Amid Fights Over Book Bans and Race

Battles over removal of LGBTQ-themed books from libraries and the teaching of race in Texas schools are moving to the ballot boxes in hotly contested school board elections. 

May 24, 2022

Amid Population Decline, Rural Texas Towns Look to Future

Despite Texas gaining more people than any other state in the past decade, more than half of its counties lost population, according to the 2020 U.S. Census.

During the past few decades, changes in agriculture and the boom-or-bust oil and gas industry have led to dwindling employment opportunities in rural Texas. Many young people leave rural communities after high school in search of economic and social opportunity, often never returning.

“You start seeing what I describe as kind of a net out-migration of young people who age up through high school in their community where they grew up. And if they want to go to post-secondary education or they want to work in a job that’s, you know, potentially higher paying, they’re going to have to move to a more urbanized area,” Texas State Demographer Lloyd Potter said.

That loss of young people, Potter said, has left aging populations in rural communities.

May 05, 2022

Texas Family Among Many in the US, Western Europe Taking in Ukrainian Refugees

Diana Mykoliv woke up early on the morning of Feb. 24 for flight attendant training in the United Arab Emirates. Her hair clipped back and uniform pressed, she headed out her apartment door when she received a text from her mother.

“It’s happening, daughter.” The message in Ukrainian stopped her in her tracks.

“My heart just fell from my chest,” Mykoliv, a Ukrainian native, said. “The worst fears I could have ever imagined of the situation were just brought to light. I couldn’t believe it.”

The same morning at 5 a.m. in Kyiv, Mykoliv’s fiancé Oleksandr awoke to explosions of ballistic missiles. In a frenzy, he packed documents, money, some clothes and a Stephen King book, then headed to the train station to flee the city among the sound of alarms.

“I couldn’t sleep for three days,” Oleksandr said. “Air alarms sound every day, sometimes for hours and it just leaves me shaking.”

Mykoliv, 3,000 miles away from her home, felt hopeless as Russian forces marched into her country, uprooting and threatening the lives of her friends, family and fiancé. According to the BBC, President Biden and the policymakers in the European Union responded by issuing severe sanctions targeting four of Russia’s largest banks, its oil and gas industry, and Western exports (especially technology) to the country.

Apr 28, 2022

Fiesta’s Return Proved San Antonio Still Knows How To Celebrate Culture

Bryan Campa doesn’t attend Fiesta for the food or the alcohol, though he doesn’t begrudge people who do. To him, Fiesta is a chance to celebrate his culture. Fiesta, a festival that lasts for 11 days during April, honors the Battle of the Alamo and Battle of San Jacinto and celebrates the Mexican-American and other […]

Mar 31, 2022

Pandemic’s Impact On Education Reveals Cracks in Public School System

Holly Barajas had enough. It was the end of a pandemic-ridden school year for this first-grade teacher. It, too, marked a final chapter in a two-decade-long career, where the emotional highs of seeing her work’s impact on children were fraught with the frustrations that came with the job. Long hours and low pay. Society’s strong […]

Mar 11, 2022

New Dawn of Psychedelic Therapies and Research Take Root in Texas

During the last regular Texas legislative session, the bipartisan House Bill 1802 was adopted, allowing studies on “alternative treatments” for veterans’ PTSD. Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin’s Dell Medical School have established the Center for Psychedelic Research and Therapy, which will start its studies on psychedelic-assisted treatments later this year.

Mar 11, 2022

Tractor Innovation Comes at Cost to Texas Farmers

Major tractor manufacturers do not provide all the materials or software to allow farmers or independent mechanics to fix highly advanced tractors, leaving farmers reliant on company-authorized mechanics, which can be costly and time-consuming. 

Farmers are seeking greater ability to make repairs themselves — part of a much broader “right to repair” movement.

Mar 05, 2022

Therapists: Calling Health Care for Trans Kids ‘Child Abuse’ Is Hateful and Dangerous

Central Texas counselors and psychologists who work with transgender adolescents say Texas politicians’ recent statements about trans therapy are an attempt to rile up voters at the cost of an extremely vulnerable community.   

Mar 02, 2022

As Texas Republicans Attack Gender-Affirming Health Care, Moms of Trans Children Say They’re Not Backing Down

Parents of transgender children in Texas say they are “freaking out.” They are unnerved by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s directive on Feb. 22 telling the Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate reports of transgender youth in Texas receiving gender-affirming health care. Abbott’s letter contends that procedures such as hormonal treatments, gender-aligning surgery or the use of puberty-blockers is child abuse under state law. 

On March 2, the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas said it had filed a lawsuit to block Abbott’s directive. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a DFPS employee who is a parent of a transgender teenager and has already had an investigator come to their home.

Feb 28, 2022

After Statements From Texas Leaders, Protesters Take to the Streets for Transgender Rights

A student-led march for transgender rights briefly turned violent Sunday when an Austin police officer slammed a protester to the ground.

Jan 25, 2022

Texas Ukrainians Pray for Peace as Ukraine-Russia Tensions Escalate

Many Texans of Ukrainian descent are concerned with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s troop buildup on the Ukrainian border and possible cyber attacks on Ukraine’s government, potentially signaling intentions to invade Ukraine.

On Jan. 23, the United States ordered Americans working at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine and their families to leave the country. 

View full archive