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Deported immigrants get their last flight on 'ICE Air'
HOUSTON (AP) - An obscure division of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement operates hundreds of flights each year to remove immigrants.
Deportation flights are big business: The U.S. government has spent $1 billion on them in the last decade, and the Trump administration is seeking to raise ICE's budget for charter flights by 30 percent.
ICE Air Operations transports detained immigrants between American cities and, for those with final removal orders, back to their home countries. About 100,000 people a year are deported on such flights.
ICE shifted to chartering private planes about a decade ago and says the flights save money and give it more flexibility.
But migrant advocacy groups say ICE Air is an example of how tougher immigration enforcement - from detention to tracking to removal - enriches private companies.
Google to spend more than $1B to expand in New York City
NEW YORK (AP) - Google is spending more than $1 billion to expand operations in New York City.
Ruth Porat, senior vice president and chief financial officer at Google and Alphabet, said in a blog post Monday that Google is creating a more than 1.7 million square-foot campus that includes lease agreements along the Hudson River in lower Manhattan. Google Hudson Square will be the company's primary location for its New York operations.
Google put its first office in New York nearly 20 years ago, and already has more than 7,000 employees in the city.
Google hopes to move into the new campus by 2020.
Google's plan to expand are being announced a month after Amazon said it would put one of its second headquarter locations in New York's Long Island City neighborhood.
DEAD CHILD-BORDER PATROL
Child's death highlights communication barriers on border
Shortly before a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl died in U.S. custody, her father signed a form stating that his daughter was in good health.
But it's unclear how much the man understood on the form, which was written in English and read to him in Spanish by Border Patrol agents.
The death of Jakelin Caal in Texas highlights the communication challenges along the U.S.-Mexico border as agents come in contact with an increasing number of migrants who speak neither English nor Spanish.
Her father's native language is the Mayan tongue known as Q'eqchi'. His second language is Spanish. It's unclear whether something was lost in translation or whether it would have made a difference in saving Jakelin. The case raises questions about the Border Patrol's use of English-only forms.
SECRETARY OF STATE
Abbott taps key staffer as new Texas secretary of state
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Gov. Greg Abbott has named his deputy chief of staff Texas' new secretary of state.
David Whitley replaces Rolando Pablos, who announced earlier this month that he was resigning after two years in the office.
In a statement Monday, Abbott's office said Whitley has worked for Abbott in various capacities since 2004.
He'd previously served as the governor's appointment's director and was assistant deputy attorney general while Abbott was attorney general, before being elected governor in 2014.
Abbott praised Whitley as having "a keen understanding of the election process." He added that he is confident Whitley "will continue to safeguard the integrity of our elections."
OCTOGENARIAN COLLEGE GRADUATE
Not into bingo, 84-year-old Texas woman gets college degree
RICHARDSON, Texas (AP) - After raising five kids and retiring at age 77 from her secretarial job, Janet Fein couldn't be blamed for finally relaxing, but that's not her.
Fein, now 84, went to back to school. And this week she'll accomplish a long-held goal when she graduates from the University of Texas at Dallas with a bachelor's degree. Fein says, "I didn't have anything to do in retirement and I didn't think that playing bingo was up to my speed."
Fein made it to class even after she had to start using a walker. Then her knees gave out, so she did a semester of independent study and took online classes to fulfill her degree requirements.
Fein's college adviser, Sheila Rollerson, says, "She did not give up in the midst of her challenges."
HURRICANE PROTECTION PLAN-TEXAS
Some Texas coastal residents opposing proposed storm barrier
GALVESTON, Texas (AP) - A proposed Texas coastal barrier is drawing backlash from some Gulf Coast residents and the state's land commissioner wants more time for property owners to voice concerns.
The plan is designed to protect the Texas coast from hurricanes with a barrier system of floodwalls, floodgates and seawall improvements. But hundreds of Bolivar Peninsula residents near Galveston are against it.
The Galveston County Daily News reports that residents fear a barrier would leave thousands of homes between a wall and the Gulf of Mexico.
The newspaper reports that a public hearing Saturday grew so crowded that security stopped letting people into the building.
Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush has called for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to consider more time for public comment and another meeting for Boliver residents.
Houston man accused of setting house fire with family inside
HOUSTON (AP) - Authorities say a Houston man intentionally set his house on fire while his wife and two young children were inside. The family escaped safely.
The blaze began early Sunday. Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez tweeted that a man identified as 31-year-old Jimmy Lauder poured gasoline inside the home and set it on fire.
Authorities say the woman called 911 after a smoke alarm went off. The family got out of the house with the help of first responders.
Harris County Fire Marshal's spokeswoman Rachel Moreno says Lauder was charged with arson and child endangerment and booked into Harris County jail. It wasn't immediately clear if he had an attorney.
STATE LAWMAKER RETIRES
Veteran Texas Rep. Pickett, citing health issues, to retire
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Veteran Democratic lawmaker Joe Pickett says he will retire from the Texas House next month to address lingering health concerns.
Pickett said in a statement Saturday that he will retire Jan. 4 after 24 years as a state representative for El Paso.
Pickett says he learned prior to the last legislative session that he had cancer, for which he received treatment and had surgery. Complications from cancer and that initial surgery have developed in recent weeks and Pickett says, "My body and mind need a break."
He held more leadership positions during his career than any other lawmaker from the El Paso region, including two stints as chairman of the House transportation committee and chairman of defense and veterans affairs.
He was considered one of the state's leading policymakers on transportation issues.
GAS STATION-FATAL SHOOTING
Man arrested after fatal shooting in College Station
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) - Authorities in Texas say they've detained a suspect in the fatal shooting of a convenience store clerk.
The shooting was reported Sunday night at a Valero gas station in College Station. According to police, a man walked into the store, demanded money, then shot the store clerk several times.
Police say the man then drove away, but authorities say he was arrested at about 4:20 a.m. Monday.
College Station police said the clerk was taken to a hospital, where she later died.
Authorities have not yet released the name of the man who was in custody.
Commission: Texas judge brought 'discredit' to the judiciary
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) - A state district judge who's facing criminal charges has been reprimanded by a state commission that criticized his conduct on the bench and says he inappropriately touched three women.
The State Commission on Judicial Conduct on Friday released the letters of reprimand against Judge Guy Williams.
The panel determined Williams' actions inside and outside the courtroom brought "discredit" to the judiciary.
Williams did not seek re-election in November and his term ends in January. The reprimand prevents him from serving as a visiting judge when his term concludes.
The Corpus Christi Caller-Times reports that an attorney for Williams says he plans to appeal the commission's findings.
Williams was arrested in May on suspicion of public intoxication and resisting arrest. He was arrested again in November on suspicion of driving while intoxicated and unlawful carrying of a weapon.
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