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Additional Federal Funding To Help Harvey Recovery, Immigration Courts Recover From Shutdown As Backlog Piles Up, And Second Case Dismissed Amid Review Of Cop’s Work

These are some of the stories Houston Public Media is covering.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Top afternoon stories:

This file photo shows a Houston neighborhood that the Harvey flooded in summer 2017.

Additional Federal Funding To Help With Harvey Recovery

Texas will receive $652 million in additional funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to assist Hurricane Harvey victims. Governor Greg Abbott and HUD Secretary Ben Carson made the announcement on Monday.

This is the third allocation of funding from HUD for Harvey recovery efforts, and will provide additional restoration resources for homes, businesses, and infrastructure impacted by the storm.

Abbott said the goal of current and upcoming federal funding is not just to rebuild what was destroyed in 2017, but to build infrastructure that will be more resilient in future storms.

The funds come from the Community Development Block Grant for Disaster Recovery Program and supplement the $5 billion in recovery programs for Texas approved by HUD in June of 2018.

Elizabeth Trovall/Houston Public Media
José. an asylum-seeker from Nicaragua, talks with his lawyer Ruby Powers. His case was impacted by the federal shutdown.

Immigration Courts Recover From Shutdown As Backlog Piles Up

In 2000, less than 2,000 cases were pending in Houston immigration courts. Two decades later, that number has soared to more than 52,000 cases — almost half of the backlogged cases statewide.

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that addressing the ballooning backlog is a priority, and beginning in 2017, the Department of Justice rolled out a number of policy changes they said would make things more fair and efficient.

But a new report by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) claims these policies are failing. The immigration court backlog has increased 25 percent since the Trump administration implemented changes to address the backlog.

Courts in Houston and San Antonio have some of the longest wait times in the country.

In addition to inefficiencies caused by policy changes, immigration courts are also recovering from the month-long government shutdown that caused some 10,000 cancelled hearings in Texas.

Florian Martin/Houston Public Media
The Pecan Park house where four police officers were shot on January 28, 2019 while serving a search warrant.

Second Case Dismissed Amid Review Of Houston Cop's Work

Prosecutors have dismissed a second case being re-examined because it involved Gerald Goines, the Houston police officer accused of lying in an affidavit that led to a drug raid last month that killed a married couple.

Court records show the drug case against Treveon Cornett was dismissed Monday. Another case was dismissed last week.

Cornett's case is one of 27 active cases tied to Officer Gerald Goines. They're among more than 1,400 being reviewed by the Harris County District Attorney's Office.

The district attorney's office said Cornett's case was dismissed in the "interest of justice." Goines didn't arrest Cornett but was at the scene.

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