5 things for Houstonians to know for Friday, June 18

Flanked by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dade Phelan, Gov. Greg Abbott held a press conference at the Capitol to provide more details on his plan for Texas to build its own border wall. June 16, 2021.
Flanked by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dade Phelan, Gov. Greg Abbott held a press conference at the Capitol to provide more details on his plan for Texas to build its own border wall. June 16, 2021.

Here are things to know for Friday, June 18:

1. Gov. Abbott orders TDCJ to clear out prisoners at state prison to house migrants with low-level offenses

Gov. Greg Abbott has directed the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to move prisoners from the Briscoe Unit in Dilley to make room for migrants crossing the border unlawfully and who have committed a state or federal crime.

About 1,000 inmates at Briscoe will be spread to different units throughout TDCJ. It will allow the unit to serve as a central holding facility for non-TDCJ detainees who have been arrested and charged with a state offense. The agency said it currently has the available bed capacity to assist in Operation Lone Star, which was launched in March by the governor to combat the smuggling of people and drugs into Texas.

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2. Gov. Greg Abbott wants lawmakers to target critical race theory in a special session

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Wednesday he wants state lawmakers to further target critical race theory in a forthcoming special session.

Abbott said so in a new statement on his signing of House Bill 3979, which dictates how Texas teachers can talk to their students about current events and America’s history of racism. Critical race theory refers to an academic discipline that views race as a social construct, and outlawing critical race theory in public schools has become a national Republican cause.

“House Bill 3979 is a strong move to abolish critical race theory in Texas, but more must be done,” Abbott said in the statement. “The issue will be added to a special session agenda.”

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3. Critics denounce Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick’s “invasion” rhetoric on immigration, saying it will incite violence

Democrats and immigration rights advocates are condemning Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick for describing immigrants crossing the border as an “invasion” this week, calling the rhetoric “dangerous” to Latino communities while pointing out that it mirrors language used by the accused El Paso shooter two years ago.

“We are being invaded,” Patrick said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon about Abbott’s border wall plans. “That term has been used in the past, but it has never been more true.”

Abbott said Wednesday that “homes are being invaded” as he announced the state would be spending an initial $250 million to construct a barrier at the state’s southern border with Mexico. He repeated the sentiment at a signing ceremony for several gun bills Thursday, saying property owners along the border are being “invaded.”

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4. Texas activist Opal Lee, known as Grandmother of Juneteenth, recognized at official bill signing

Opal Lee has been working for decades to get Juneteenth recognized as a federal holiday. And the work finally paid off.

Known as the Grandmother of Juneteenth, Lee witnessed President Joe Biden sign the long-awaited bill Thursday. She held hands with Vice President Kamala Harris, while others, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee, observed.

Lee also received Biden’s first pen used to sign the historic legislation.

“You are an incredible woman,” Biden said about Lee during the official signing at the White House.

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5. Gulf storm set to strengthen as it eyes Louisiana landfall

As anticipated, the disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico that we have been watching for well over a week is finally on the move and setting its sights on Louisiana.

The storm, officially named Potential Tropical Cyclone Three, currently has 35 mile per hour sustained wind. It is in the central Gulf and moving north at 14 mph. It will make landfall overnight along the southeast Louisiana coast.

Short-range high resolution models show a very off-balanced storm thanks to wind shear in the upper atmosphere. Heavy rain will be concentrated east of the center. West of the center -- the “clean” side of the storm -- will be mainly dry.

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