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Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

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Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

The Texan Recap: Anti-Immigration Bills, On-Campus Telescopes

In this episode of The Texan Recap, audio editor Aislyn Gaddis chats about new Texas anti-immigration legislation and UT’s on-campus observatories and telescopes.

Reported by Ren Leija and Tyler Pullum. Hosted and supervised by Aislyn Gaddis. Edited by Jack Lewellyn. Cover art by Emma Berke. Music by Top Flow Productions.


*upbeat music*


Aislyn Gadd: Anti-immigration bills might soon be signed into Texas Law…and UT’s on-campus telescopes offer a place for star-gazing and community for both students and Austinites alike.


I’m your host this week, Aislyn Gaddis and this is The Texan Recap.


Here’s what you missed this week.


*upbeat music*


Aislyn: Texas immigration bills were voted on during last month’s special session. General news reporter Ren Leija is here with the story. Thanks for being here today, Ren.


Ren Leija: Thank you for having me. So good to be here.


Aislyn: So last month, the Texas legislature voted on three anti-immigration bills in a special session. What were the most voted on and what do they do?


Ren: Yeah, so we have the first one, which is House Bill 4, which is sponsored by state Rep. David Spiller, and this would create like a new state crime for like illegally entering Texas from the Mexico border, and would authorize like state police to arrest violators and allow like just general police officers to return migrants to like a port of entry and like forced them to return to Mexico. Under this bill, like a first-time offender could be convicted of a misdemeanor and be punished with up to 180 days behind bars. The penalty would jump to a felony punishable by up to two years in prison if the person has repeatedly entered the country illegally. 


Then we have House Bill 6, which would appropriate $1.5 billion to fund Governor Greg Abbott’s efforts to build border barriers along different parts of the Texas-Mexico border. The bill says the state would pay five contractors to provide an additional 50 miles of border barriers and maintain the current plan of 40 miles of barrier. 


And then finally we have Senate Bill 4, which passed both the House and the Senate Texas legislator, and this measure would increase the minimum sentence from two years to 10 just smuggling immigrants or operating a stash house. And now it currently goes to Governor Greg Abbott’s office for his signature to be signed into law.


Aislyn: What were the results of the session? Were the bills passed or failed?


Ren: So we have House Bill 4, which was passed in the House from 84 to 60, and that is currently heading to the Senate. And then House Bill 6 was voted 84 to 61 and was approved by the House and now is headed to the Senate as well. And then finally Senate Bill 4 had a 90 to 57 vote and was passed in the Senate and currently is heading to Governor Greg Abbott’s office to be signed into law passed by both chambers.


Aislyn: And if these bills do become law, what effect might they have on the state?


Ren: It’s definitely very, very strict enforcing laws on immigration, we see for House Bill 4 it will make coming to the state of Texas from you know border towns from El Paso from all of these different, you know, border communities, definitely the consequences will be a lot greater and will enforce a lot more fear among law enforcement. Because these are just general police officers instead of actual border patrol agents and ICE, if you aren’t familiar, would make them able to, you know, arrest citizens and put them behind bars, and just general fear amongst black and brown communities and like immigrants and immigrant communities. 


For House Bill 6, constructing a border barrier, I spoke with someone in the story who lives in Del Rio, which is a border town. And this would literally physically be someone coming in to construct a physical barrier. But sometimes people live directly on this border. So it would interrupt different communities and have their barriers for these immigrant communities are just literal fences, sometimes between the Texas and the Mexico border. So it definitely would be extremely, extremely disruptive it would make going to and from the Texas-Mexico border, even if you are a US citizen, extremely, extremely difficult. 


And then Senate Bill 4 would definitely enforce more of a fear of the criminal justice system as the sentence would go from two years to 10 years. That’s literally eight years. It’s so much longer than the original sentencing, and it would sometimes be targeting people who maybe just be giving rides to friends or family who just happened to be a documented to like a doctor’s office or church or just general errands and it would also raise concerns that the sentence would be too much longer than what is expected. So instead, Democrats raised concerns that the 10-year mandatory minimum sentence is longer than some serious felonies such as murder in like Texas can carry sometimes a five-year minimum sentence.  


Aislyn: That was general news reporter Ren Leija. Thanks for taking the time to speak with me. 


Ren: Thank you so much.


*upbeat music*


Aislyn: UT has two on-campus telescopes that hold weekly public viewings. General Life & Arts Reporter is here to tell us about them. Thanks for joining me, Tyler.


Tyler Pullum: Thank you for having me.


Aislyn: So what on-campus observatories and telescopes does UT have?


Tyler: So the university has two on-campus telescopes, and one of them is open on Wednesday nights every week, from eight to 10 p.m. At the PMA, it’s on the top floor. It’s pretty new. And it’s a lot more technologically advanced than the one at Painter Hall, which is open on Friday and Saturday nights from eight to 10 p.m. as well.


Aislyn: And they offer something called “star parties” in addition to just being open to the public. Could you tell me about those?


Tyler: So basically, what I gathered was that star parties are kind of when you have a group or you know, a large gathering of people that are specifically looking for something in particular, maybe they’re looking for a constellation or they’re looking for a planet and they kind of maybe host like a work trip or a birthday party or something. One of the interviewees talked about a fifth-grade birthday party that they hosted. And that being one of the most memorable experiences that they had while working at the observatory.


Aislyn: And what did you learn about the community these facilities offer?


Tyler: You might think that the only people that are coming up to view the observatories are people that are, you know, maybe STEM majors, maybe physics, astronomy, but really something that I found is that they get people from all over and not even just the UT campus, but all of our Austin, people from many different backgrounds want to look out into the stars and see what’s out there. And I think that’s so beautiful. And it says a lot about the community that science can bring together.


Aislyn: Did you visit the observatory for the story?


Tyler: I did visit the observatory for the story.


Aislyn: Could you tell me about what it was like?


Tyler: Okay, so I visited both of them. And personally, my favorite is the PMA one just because the view on the top of the building is so fantastic. You can see the entire city you have a beautiful view of the tower and the Painter Hall one is really nice as well, the do the tower is a lot closer, and it’s also interesting because the Painter Hall one was built, I believe in 1933. And so it’s very old, there’s like basically no technology out there except for like these LED red strip lights that they have at the bottom to kind of minimize the light pollution they have in the area which is already really bad from just you know, lights from the tower lights from the city and everything but everything in the Painter Hall observatory is controlled by hands like people have to do it themselves. 


Whereas in the PMA, it’s kind of like you can put in, you know, coordinates specifically and it’ll kind of go in that direction of where it is in the sky. But at the Painter Hall one you have to move it around yourself even have to move like the dome that covers the telescope around yourself as well. That’s one of the biggest differences between and it’s really honestly interesting to look at the differences between the two.


Aislyn: That was general Life & Arts reporter Tyler Pullum. Thanks for being here today.


Tyler: Thank you so much for letting me come and speak.


Aislyn: And that’s The Texan Recap for the week of November 6th. I’m Aislyn Gaddis.




The Texan Recap is a production of The Daily Texan Audio Department. If you like this episode, make sure you subscribe to The Daily Texan on your streaming platform of choice and follow us on Twitter @texanaudio. This episode was hosted and supervised by me, Aislyn Gaddis and edited by Jack Lewellyn. Special thanks to Tyler Pullum and Ren Leija for their reporting and to Katy Nelson, Mimi Calzada and Chloe Moore for contributing to this project. Cover art is by Emma Berke and music is by Top Flow Productions. To read the news stories in this episode or see more from the Texan, head on over to Thanks for listening, and I’ll see you next week


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About the Contributor
Aislyn Gaddis, Senior Audio Producer
Aislyn is a journalism sophomore from Grapevine, Texas. Currently, she works as a senior audio producer and previously worked on investigative stories for the Texan. She loves to do crosswords and listen to Taylor Swift in her free time.