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As the rest of the public is fixated on the spread of Ebola and the never-ending conflict in the Middle East, the children who have immigrated into the United States from Central America are still having trouble adjusting to life in America.

The New York Times recently published an in-depth story that shed light on immigrant children who have not been enrolled in school yet despite their legitimate residence in the district.

These children haven’t been able to enroll because of the bureaucracy that stands in their way.

The process is not an easy one for immigrants. Some schools require more than immunization records and proof of residence, they also need an affidavit from the property owner confirming the address.

For the schools, it’s about ensuring that these potential students live where they say they do. Because most schools are underfunded as is, adding students puts more stress on their facilities.

It’s imperative these schools find a way to ease up on the red tape to let these kids into their classrooms.

It’s appalling to think that children who are escaping brutal violence in their home countries are not getting an education while they are here.

In order to alleviate the burden on the schools, the federal government needs to address this issue by providing schools emergency funding to accommodate for the influx of students.

Some public officials have already begun proposing these ideas, but the legislation has yet to be approved. Every day that passes is another day wasted where these children could have gone to school and begun their education.

This divide has led to social tensions between Hispanics and whites, The New York Times found. One student said a gym teacher had told two Hispanic children who showed up late to gym class “go outside to do 50 push-ups and come back when they were residents.”

These children did not risk their lives to come here and drain resources, they came to have a better life. We cannot sit here and speak highly of the American Dream when we don’t afford other people the same opportunities.

The United States is known for setting a gold standard and being a melting pot. It’s time to earn that reputation rather than looking down at those who are coming to America under duress as second-class citizens.

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Graphic by Fares SabawiCelebrities aren’t the only ones that need to worry about getting hacked anymore.

It is estimated that more than 200,000 photos taken on Snapchat, a popular app used by high school and college students, have been hacked and leaked onto the Internet.

With a photo dump that big, which people have labeled “The Snappening,” there is not much known about who the photos belong to.

Unlike the ongoing hacks that have targeted celebrities since last month, this leak is a little more frightening considering the likelihood that a portion of those Snapchat photos belong to minors. Multiple reports have discovered that 50 percent of Snapchat users are between ages 13-17.

Snapchat users may feel secure sending nude pictures through the app, since the pictures only last for a very limited time once sent and cannot be retrieved again, but it was only a matter of time before people would find a way around it.

Users began to install a third-party application named SnapSave that allowed users to save all “snaps” which would later be saved onto that database.

Hackers did not have to breach Snapchat’s databases to steal the pictures. They hacked SnapSave instead, which was far less difficult.

This is no longer an issue for just Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton. It’s an issue for everyone.

While you are free to take pictures and express yourself that way to the ones you love, understand that there’s always a risk, regardless of who you are.

In a perfect world, this would be nothing to worry about, but this type of crime is hard to track down and no hackers have been caught yet. Yes, these cybercrimes are deserving of condemnation, but the only one who can prevent sensitive photos from reaching the Internet is you.

Be smart about who you send this type of information to and what medium is used to send it. It’s worth a second a thought before you go through with something that might change your life forever.

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No crime is a bigger issue on college campuses across the nation than sexual assault, and some states have now decided to take matters into their own hands.

California’s state legislature passed a law that changes the standard on defining sexual assault.

Rather than focusing on whether the victim explicitly rejected or resisted sexual activity, the law establishes that there must be affirmative consent before sexual activity. For California, it’s no longer “no means no” but “yes means yes.”

Affirmative consent is a change in the right direction. Under the previous policy, a girl who gets too drunk and doesn’t reject sexual activity outright may never seek the justice she seeks.

California is not the only state that has tackled this issue with urgency. Connecticut passed several reforms on sexual assault, including a mandate that requires colleges to provide services for victims on college campuses. New Jersey has also passed legislation in response to sexual assaults in their state.

While the federal government has addressed this issue when Title IX was enacted, a landmark law that lays out the rights entitled to sexual assault victims, it’s still paramount for states to take on reform for sexual assault. Public universities get the majority of their funding from their respective state’s legislative body, so the states have the power to see this legislation go through.

While a number states have worked diligently to pass sexual assault reforms, other states, like Texas, have not.

Dawnna Dukes, a state representative from Austin, wrote a bill that proposed the creation of a taskforce to write policy changes on sexual assault, but that bill has been stalled by the legislature.

Texas falling behind on sexual assault is not a surprise. This is the same state that ruled improper photography unconstitutional, meaning that taking pictures up a woman’s skirt in public is legal and protected as freedom of expression.

It is to be hoped that the state can change their views on sexual assault, and update their laws to more accurately address sexual assault. These reforms are not egregious and do not cross any lines. It’s common sense for the safety of women on campus.

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web-iraq-graphicIt’s hard to envy President Barack Obama when he finds himself in a bind when it comes to how to deal with the Islamic State in Syria, or ISIS.

In 2011, President Obama went through on his plans to withdraw troops from Iraq, wrapping up a nearly decade-long campaign in the Middle East. Not long after, ISIS troops began attacking in Iraqi cities and even temporarily took over a dam in Mosul, until US airstrikes pushed them back.

The United States has been hard pressed to find a solution for the growing ISIS problem, as the militant group released two videos depicting the beheadings of journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

While the president does not want to put troops on the ground in the Middle East again in order to avoid another Iraq War ordeal, he has stated he wants to “degrade and destroy” ISIS. Much easier said than done, especially with a problem as complex as this one.

The president said he is prepared to intensely arm Iraqi soldiers and continue airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, where the majority of ISIS members are.

If President Obama wants to succeed in destroying ISIS without using ground troops, he’ll need some help from Middle Eastern allies. Once again, easier said than done.

Turkey and Saudi Arabia are two ally countries that can contribute to the solution, but both nations are hesitant to get on board with the United States.

Turkey is concerned for 49 of their citizens that were captured by ISIS in Mosul, and Saudi Arabia is fearful of stirring extremists up in their own country if they get involved.

However, without their involvement, the United States will not find success. Although the US can lead the fight against ISIS, it’s important to get Muslim countries to aid the battle to prove that this is not a battle against Islam, but against extremism.

The reason ISIS grew as quickly as it did was because of the number of people disillusioned by the United States’ initial campaign in the Middle East in 2001. Without Muslim partnership, the ideology of extremism won’t die in the Middle East.

Bombs can only do so much, but it can’t kill an idea. That’s the United States’ biggest obstacle in the Middle East.

David Barajas
David Barajas

This summer was a time of learning and new experiences for me and it was pure bliss. I was fortunate enough to land an internship at The Facts newspaper in Brazoria County.

I worked as a reporter for an actual newspaper, which was not only a huge accomplishment but literally, a dream come true.

I reported some major accidents, met some interesting people and, oh yeah, I got to watch a murder trial unfold.

The initial incident occurred two years ago on December 7, 2012, while David Barajas was traveling home with his family (wife, daughter and two sons) when their Ford F-250 ran out of gas less then 100 yards from their home.

Barajas decided that he and his two sons would be able to push the truck home because they were so close. As they were pushing the truck home, a Chevy Malibu struck Barajas and his sons.

I can only imagine waking up after being knocked out and hearing my wife screaming “MY BABIES, MY BABIES!” What was wrong with his babies?

After regaining consciousness and realizing that he and his two children were hit, Barajas began the search for his boys, but he didn’t have to search for long because right before his eyes he could see half of his youngest son, because that’s all there was left of him. The impact was so powerful that it literally severed the bottom half of the young boys body.

As Barajas tried to breath life into his dying child, he remembered his other son. He hastily ran to the ditch where he could see a foot, there lay his other boy. He lost one, and then he lost another one.

Somewhere in the haze of it all the, the police arrived and found a boy in the passenger seat of the car that plowed into the Barajas’s pickup truck. He had a bullet hole in his head.

Days after the accident, this father was charged with murder and awaiting trial.

The trial started during the last week of my internship and because the actual events occurred years before I got there, I wasn’t familiar with the case at all and only knew about the trial because my friend and co-worker was covering it for the paper.

I didn’t have too many projects for that week so I asked my editor if I could sit in on the case and she suggested that I even take some photos, I was stoked.

I missed the first day but when I got there the second day I was thoroughly informed about what happened on the previous day.

The tension was high because there were members from both families present, though the Barajas clan clearly outnumbered the family of Jose Banda, the man who was found shot in the passenger seat of the wrecked car.

As the hours pressed on, the truth was unknown but it was clear to me that the man on trial was not guilty. The prosecution wanted to prove that his man went to his house and shot a kid because his own two children were killed, but that wasn’t my impression.

I don’t have words to express the feeling that I felt as the witnesses were pressed for the truth and one by one, they broke and though they were no closer to the truth, the Barajas defense team led by Sam Cammack proved reasonable doubt.

I sat in the trial for eight hours for three days and every day I was amazed, but my dismay came when I had to return to Kingsville. I was sad to leave the trial, knowing that it was nearing the end. I wanted so desperately to be there to witness the verdict but I was still happy to receive the text, “He was acquitted.”

I wasn’t happy for personal reasons, I was happy because I truly didn’t believe that this man shot anyone after witnessing his two children killed. I thought that the saddest part of the situation was that both families lost a child but David Barajas was not able to mourn the loss of his boys until the day he got his “not guilty” verdict.

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Higher One was supposed to send cards out to all students before school started this fall to distribute refunds, but that hasn't been the case.
Higher One was supposed to send cards out to all students before school started this fall to distribute refunds, but that hasn’t been the case.

We had a good thing going with direct deposit and paper checks as an option to receive refunds. Now, Texas A&M University-Kingsville has opted into using a third party known as HIgher One to distribute a student’s financial aid refund.

Although this method seems harmless and claims to be convenient, it has created many setbacks for students that rely on that money. All refunds are going to this Higher One card, which will charge you 50 cents per transaction if it’s charged as a debit card, along with other fees found on their schedule:

Granted, TAMUK didn’t have a say in the matter, as the choice was made from the A&M system. But didn’t they anticipate just how much this would inconvenience students, and by extension, professors?

Imagine this scenario: A charge for using your card doesn’t sound appealing, so you decide direct deposit or a paper check will suffice. Now you are told you can go online to the Higher One website and select your method of disbursement by entering your card number, the very same card you may have not received like some students have reported.

After you finally get one, you have to wait even longer to receive the money in your bank. If you opt for direct deposit, it takes two to three business days to receive your money, but if you want it in a check, it takes up to 21 days. Is this convenient for you?

Books, parking permits and gasoline are just a few necessities that students need to survive a semester. How will these get paid for on time when students have trouble getting their money?

Other students have a lengthier process to endure with the financial aid application and verification if it’s needed. Since the semester started, the financial aid and business office are packed every business hour with students attempting to sort out money issues.

With the long lines and limited answers to questions, the experience can be frustrating. Calling financial aid or the business office isn’t even an option. Students who do can enjoy listening to the same tune on repeat for 40 minutes.

At least phones still exist at the business office. If the lines are completely busy, there is an option to leave a voicemail with your K number and reason why you’re calling and you will get a phone call that same day. That’s better than no answer.

All of this is a headache.

If the funds were distributed on time and if Higher One wasn’t an option, the start of the semester would be less stressful for students and faculty.

TAMUK did not need to change the processing of our money when direct deposit was working just fine. Why try to fix something that isn’t broken?

The tragic events at Sandy Hook brought about a renewed awareness of gun violence, but nothing notable has been done as of yet.

Unfortunately, it seems as though school shootings are becoming more commonplace.

According to an Associated Press analysis, there have been at least 11 school shootings since the increase in security after Sandy Hook.

The most difficult question to answer, of course, is how. How do we stop this recurring gun violence? While there are many factors that could be the cause of gun violence, there is no clear answer as to how we can stop it.

This doesn’t mean we can’t do anything, though. One approach would be to require a more thorough background check of someone who

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wants to buy a gun. Mental health checks and criminal background checks should be included in the process.

It shouldn’t be easy to obtain a gun. Yes, they are a form of self-defense. But they are also a tool used to kill.

In many states, it’s legal for a private seller to sell a gun without a background check being required. This happens in gun shows, hence the term “gun show loophole,” but it also happens outside them.

This speaks to a larger problem that many people who go around selling guns at gun shows aren’t licensed, but that’s not entirely their fault. If a seller only does business at gun shows, they don’t qualify for a federal firearms license, according to Marketplace.org.

The laws surrounding gun sales and regulations need to be rewritten.

Of course, we can’t pretend that this issue is one-sided. There are multiple approaches to this problem that are reasonable to try.

Another suggestion, for example, would be to increase the amount of gun training required before someone is granted a gun permit.

Last February, a Texas lawmaker advocated for loosening gun training requirements by reducing the number of hours required from 10 to four. However, in a state where there are at least
461,724 concealed gun permits, according to Politifact, that may not be a smart option.

In schools, we can be more proactive in preventing these dangerous tendencies in teenagers. Schools should offer more counseling services and after-care programs.

Too often, we hear the troubled past that these shooters had and the question always comes up: if someone had known, could they have made a difference?

The answer is not to take guns away from people. Let’s be realistic. Such an alternative would not work and the mere mention of it gets people in a gun-buying frenzy.

But by tightening gun restrictions and being more active in helping troubled people, we might start seeing a reduction in the number of shootings.


Graphic courtesy of PEW Research Center

On Jan. 28, President Barack Obama gave a State of the Union address that called for many things that we’ve heard him say before: an end to the gridlock in Congress, reforms in the tax code and an executive order to raise the minimum wage for all federal workers.

As always, the president managed to give an eloquent speech that heavily appealed to the emotion. However, Obama did so to try to divert attention away from the recent failures of his administration.

Not only did he overlook the recent anger over the NSA’s questionably overreaching power, but he also failed to confront the failure of Obamacare, which hasn’t met expectations in enrollment and premium costs alike.

The Obama administration’s struggles do not only affect his view here in the United States, where his approval rating stood at 43 percent heading into the speech, but also affects his view to the rest of the world. Many countries feel they cannot trust the United States after discovering even

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US allies have been wiretapped as well.

Even worse for Obama in the international community is the use of drones in civilian locations throughout Afghanistan and Pakistan. Though the president did touch on the subject briefly, he only gave a vague promise of reform.

Obama was right in saying that the mistrust other countries have “cannot simply be wished away,” but his convoluted promise to use the NSA and drones responsibly doesn’t make up for the all the damage it has caused.

What Obama focused on in his address is nothing new. Oftentimes, the president has shifted his attention to trying to end the political stalemate on Capitol Hill. Just as frequent, Obama has called for reforms in the tax code and an end to the inequality gap.

He’s never seen these things happen yet, and it’s doubtful that he will see these goals realized in his sixth year in office.

Obama didn’t need to come out apologetically to the American people, but he needed to address the shortcomings he’s faced this year instead of trying to sweep them under the rug.

Most importantly, Obama needs to remember that words do not equate to action.

Illustration by America Banuelos

The United States was entering an era of change in the 1960’s. The economy was growing, the first Catholic president had been elected, and a civil rights movement was sweeping the nation.

As a country, we have come to honor every third Monday in January as Martin Luther King Day, to celebrate the accomplishments of a man whose gift with prose was such that he moved the hearts of many and rallied them to fight for “the dream.”

Perhaps King’s greatest feat was the ability to make a speech that, like The Guardian notes, was “an optimistic oration about race that acknowledges the desperate circumstances that made it necessary while still projecting hope, patriotism, humanism and militancy.”

It was a message that others could relate to; it wasn’t limited to the ears of African Americans alone. It didn’t matter what the color of your skin was, whether it was white, black, or brown. You heard his message and you found it moving, or at the least, acknowledged its potency.

It especially resounded with Latinos too, according to the Associated Press, who were also embroiled in their own civil rights battle at about the same time.

Hector P. Garcia was a prominent figure in the Hispanic civil rights movement. He also believed in peaceful protest, and he was able to get things done through legal recourse.

Despite the threats made to him, despite the setbacks, despite the disappointments, Garcia fought for Latino rights. He and King are very similar in this aspect – no matter what obstacles they faced; they challenged the system with the belief that the principles of the Constitution and the Declaration would prevail.

King’s life was tragically cut short, but his legacy lived on. Garcia was able to continue his work until his death in July 1996, but by that point, he had made great progress for Hispanics, being the first Mexican-American to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award. Last week, we celebrated his 100th birthday.

It’s thanks to the efforts of two brave individuals that some of us are able to enjoy the freedoms we have right now. So let’s take a moment to be thankful and remember two true Americans who changed the country – Hector P. Garcia and Martin Luther King.


Illustration by America Banuelos

In what was supposed to be a deterrent against voting fraud, the recent Texas Voter ID law has caused some unexpected trouble for women and senior citizens looking to fulfill their civic duty.

An article by TIME Magazine states the law is unfairly discriminating against minorities, low-income voters and women.

The new law, according to propublica.org, could be seen as a form of poll tax. Obtaining a photo ID can be costly and troublesome since even free state ID requiring documents like birth certificates can cost up to $25 in some states.

For women, the problem comes from name changes as a result of marriage or divorce. The law requires that the name on your personal ID card is “substantially similar” to the one on your voter registration card.

When it isn’t, voters are required to sign an affidavit that affirms they are who they claim they are.

To get the necessary IDs, however, you need to be able to produce documents with your current name. According to TIME, 34 percent of women in the United States don’t have those documents.

This same dilemma also plagues the transgender population. TIME states 29 percent of transgender men and women in states with strict photo ID laws do not have IDs that reflect the gender they present. In Texas, that number is 27 percent.

Proponents of this new mandatory photo ID law claim it is a method to combat voting fraud.

While the law may have meant well, there is little to actually suggest that it was necessary. According to a study by the New York Times back in 2007, there were only 120 cases of voter fraud over the course of five years.

The study suggests that many of those people accused of voter fraud mistakenly did so, filling out registration forms or misunderstanding eligibility rules.

Therefore, it seems unlikely that voter fraud will ever be a serious problem. The law, on the other hand, is a problem in that it bars some groups from voting as easily as others.

It’s reasonable to assume that the proponents of the

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law did some research on voter fraud. Surely they could reach the conclusion that it wasn’t a serious problem. This begs the question: why did the Texas Congress pass the law?

Only one answer seems likely: It was an intentional attempt to obstruct the Democratic demographic from voting.

This strict voter ID law borders on the unreasonable and should immediately be dealt away with. At the point where a law begins to prevent people from voting, it is an absolute affront to democracy.