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Improving the diversity of student enrollments at UT-Austin, Texas A&M-College Station, vital now and for Texas’ future, says Rep. Terry Canales

Arnold De La Paz, Founder and President, The DLP Group, Inc., Corpus Christi; Gloria Pérez, President, Asiel Enterprises, Inc., Corpus Christi; Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg; and Roland Barrera, Owner, Roland Barrera Insurance

Featured: Arnold De La Paz, Founder and President, The DLP Group, Inc., Corpus Christi; Gloria Pérez, President, Asiel Enterprises, Inc., Corpus Christi; Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg; and Roland Barrera, Owner, Roland Barrera Insurance, Corpus Christi, and Past Chair of Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce, during the 39th Annual Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce State Convention on Saturday, August 2, 2014, at the former Embassy Suites by Hilton Hotel in McAllen.
Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR

The state’s public universities, especially the flagship campuses of The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University at College Station, must continue to increase the enrollment of Hispanic and other racial and ethnic minorities in order to best prepare all Texans for a bright future, says Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg. “Texas, which is the best state in the nation, has seen the Hispanic population become almost as large as the Anglo population, but we do not see Hispanics and other minority groups properly represented in the classrooms at UT-Austin and Texas A&M-College Station, which are among wealthiest public universities in the world,” said Canales. “We still have a ways to go, but we are moving in the right direction.” As part of his efforts to open more doors to all Texans at the mammoth UT and Texas A&M campuses, Canales has become one of 53 state lawmakers who have signed a legal document, known as an amicus brief, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to support efforts that allow UT to consider race and ethnicity, among other factors, in order to promote diversity in its student population. In the Fall of 2014, 19.2 percent of the student enrollment at UT-Austin was Hispanic, while at Texas A&M during the same semester, 21.9 percent of the student enrollment was Hispanic. By comparison, the Hispanic population in 2014, as estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau, is 38.6 percent of the state’s almost 27 million residents. That figure approaches the number of Anglos in Texas, who make up almost 44 percent of the state’s population. African Americans represent the third largest population group in the state, totaling 12.5 percent of all Texans. Canales said since UT-Austin and Texas A&M-College Station were created by the Texas Legislature to serve all of Texas, it is incumbent upon the Legislature to improve what he called “dismal” student enrollment rates at those two campuses of Hispanic and other minority groups. Although the amicus brief focuses on increasing the number of racial and ethnic minorities at UT-Austin, Canales said first and foremost he remains focused on ongoing efforts to transform The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley into the next UT-Austin and Texas A&M-College Station. “Let’s make one thing perfectly clear. The students, faculty, and administrators at UT-Austin, Texas A&M-College Station, or anywhere else are not better or more intelligent than at UT Rio Grande Valley,” Canales emphasized. “What they do have, that we don’t, are more opportunities and more resources than the rest of the state’s public universities, and those are some of the reasons I support increasing minority student enrollments at those two rich campuses.” Canales said constituents ask him what his vision is for UTRGV, and the state lawmaker said he shares the hopes and dreams of all South Texans. “It’s no secret. We in South Texas will not rest, we will not be discouraged, we will not be stopped in our monumental effort to transform UTRGV into a world-class institution,” Canales said. “We are going to have a law school and other professional schools, just like UT and Texas A&M, we are going to expand our School of Medicine in Edinburg and throughout the Valley, and much more. Just look how far we have come in just the past few years.”

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Privacy rights, public safety involving cell phones and other wireless communications devices being addressed by Sen. Burton/Rep. Canales legislation

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Featured: Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, speaking from the back microphone on the floor of the House of Representatives in April 2015.

Photograph By HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHY

Texans’ Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure would be better protected under legislation sponsored by Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, which would require police to obtain a search warrant from a judge before being allowed to look at the contents of a cell phone or other wireless communications device belonging to individuals who are involved in a search incident to arrest. In general, a search incident to arrest, formally known as a search incident to lawful arrest (SITA) or the Chimel rule, is defined as a legal principle that allows police to perform a warrantless search of an arrested person, and the area within the arrestee’s immediate control, in the interest of officer safety, the prevention of escape, and the destruction of evidence. In addition to protecting Texans’ Fourth Amendment privacy rights, Senate Bill 1864 “gives our law enforcement officers a clean and clear description of how to handle the search of a cell phone,” Canales added. The measure, whose primary author is Sen. Konni Burton, R-Colleyville, passed the Senate on Thursday, April 30. Canales secured passage by the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence – of which he is a member – on Friday, May 21. Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, is a joint author of Burton’s SB 1864, which was approved by the Senate on Thursday, April 30. “Unless it is an emergency that involves the safety of our law enforcement officers, or the police reasonably believe the information in the phone is vital to saving someone’s life, a search warrant must be obtained before they can begin looking at all the information – some if it very private – that all of us have in our cell phones,” said Canales. He noted that when an individual is stopped for an alleged offense, police can examine a cell phone to make sure it can not be used as a weapon against them. “Police can look at the contents of a cell phone or other wireless communications device without a search warrant if the owner of the phone consents, the phone is reported stolen, or if the officer reasonably believes the phone is in possession of a fugitive from justice for whom an arrest warrant has been issued for a felony offense,” Canales added. According to U.S. Courts (uscourts.gov), the Constitution, through the Fourth Amendment, protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. The Fourth Amendment, however, is not a guarantee against all searches and seizures, but only those that are deemed unreasonable under the law. Whether a particular type of search is considered reasonable in the eyes of the law, is determined by balancing two important interests, according to U.S. Courts. On one side of the scale is the intrusion on an individual’s Fourth Amendment rights. On the other side of the scale are legitimate government interests, such as public safety. Burton characterized SB 1864 as “a privacy protection bill that takes proactive steps to protect the Fourth Amendment rights of not only Texans, but of all who come to our great state. We now carry around with us everyday items that contain more personal information, photos, contacts, and transcripts of conversations than most people kept in their homes just ten years ago. A police officer looking through a cell phone’s contents is as invasive a search as rummaging through every private paper and item in your home.” In June 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that during a search incident to arrest, a warrant is required in order to search a cell phone or other wireless communication device. In his concurrence to that decision, Justice Samuel Alito called for legislatures to not allow privacy protections in the 21st century to rely primarily upon the blunt instrument of the Fourth Amendment, and to take up the challenge of placing into statue the protections necessary to guarantee those rights in this ever changing technological environment.

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Texans’ right-to-know about lethal drugs used in executions would dramatically improve under bill filed by Rep. Canales

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Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, featured on Wednesday, November 20, 2013 at The University of Texas Regional Academic Health Center in Harlingen.

Photograph By JOSUE ESPARZA

The public’s right to know about how executions take place in Texas – including current, controversial secret information regarding the lethal drugs used to administer the death sentence – would be dramatically strengthened under legislation filed on Friday, February 20, by Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg. House Bill 1587 by Canales would require the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to provide details about the names of the drugs used in the lethal injections, along with the identity of their manufacturers, the expiration dates of the deadly concoction, the results of laboratory tests performed on those ingredients, and pertinent information relating to the toxic substance. “In Texas, we do not give the bureaucrats the absolute authority to decide what the public can and cannot know about what their government is doing,” said Canales. “When it comes to the death penalty, Texans will not allow state government to keep secrets about this drug, which wields the power of life and death.” His support of disclosing such details in the name of open government has drawn strong support from Kelley Shannon, Executive Director of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas. “The people of Texas need information to scrutinize their government and hold it accountable,” said Shannon, who helps lead the non-profit 301(c)(3) organization, which is devoted to promoting open government, freedom of speech, and freedom of press. “With the death penalty, we are talking about the ultimate punishment for a crime. The people have the right to know how their state is carrying out punishment by lethal injection.” On January 23, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it will review later this year the drug protocol increasingly used across the country to determine whether the use of lethal injections, under certain circumstances, constitute cruel and unusual punishment. “The U.S. Supreme Court’s upcoming case will deal with the very important American protection against cruel and unusual punishment, which is a very complicated issue,” Canales said. “House Bill 1587 deals with the people’s right to know where Texas taxes are being spent to buy lethal drugs to use in executions. I will always fight for the people’s right to know about what their government is doing in their name.”

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