The Week in the Rearview Mirror

Support for immigration reform appears to be growing at an unexpected pace. A new Associated Press-GfK poll revealed that 62 percent of Americans now support a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, up dramatically from the 50 percent who supported the idea in the summer of 2010. Support grew fastest among Republicans, with a 22 percent spike in approval since the last poll. 

The Democratic National Committee this week elected its first Latino finance chairman, San Antonio architect Henry Muñoz. Muñoz made a name for himself during the 2012 presidential campaign, raising more than $30 million for President Barack Obama

Texas’ high school graduation rate has risen to 78.9 percent — above the national average. But the recent report issued by the National Center for Education Statistics differed from a November Department of Education report indicating that Texas had recorded the third-best graduation rate in the country. The statistics center is run through the department but used a different method of calculating results. The same report for 2006-07 showed a graduation rate of 73.1 percent. The dropout rate also declined, from 3.2 to 2.7 percent.

As legislators, state officials and the public continued to debate the presence of guns in schools, a gunfight erupted on Tuesday outside the library at one of the Lone Star College campuses in Houston. Two men were arguing and shots were fired, injuring a suspect and two bystanders. Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia charged 22-year-old Carlton Berry with aggravated assaulted and said that as part of his ongoing investigation, a second suspect may be sought.

A statewide competition to kill feral hogs is officially over, and state officials are tabulating the results. The top three counties will earn points toward a grant from the state that will allow them to further develop plans to eradicate more of the animals. It’s estimated that the 2.6 million feral hogs in Texas cause about $500 million in damage annually. Participants in the competition attended workshops and brought in tails from feral hogs killed, earning them bounties in some counties. Of the 28 counties that participated, Caldwell and Hays counties reported killing more than 1,000 hogs. Under the Hog Out County Grants Program, the Agriculture Department will dole out the award money, with the winning county receiving $20,000.

A think tank that studies and ranks cities nationwide has listed Amarillo as No. 17 on its list of Best-Performing Cities in the Smallest Metros category. A high ranking on the Milken Institute’s list of 179 small metropolitan areas means that Amarillo’s economy is performing well and creating sustainable jobs. The organization ranks cities’ performance on a number of economic factors over the course of five years. This was Amarillo’s first time to make the list.

Texas Department of Insurance officials reported a marked drop in the number of complaints filed by consumers. Auto insurance complaints were at an all-time low in 2012, and homeowners insurance complaints were near the lowest recorded level since the department began tracking complaints in 1994. Industry groups credit an increase in technology resulting in improved customer service for the decline in complaints. 

A lawsuit charging Marion Independent School District with racial discrimination has been dismissed by a federal judge. The plaintiffs alleged the district was responsible for the racial slurs endured by a family when they attended schools in the rural district. They no longer attend school in the Guadalupe County district but continue to charge that the district is responsible for a noose found on the eldest daughter’s car, along with a threatening note. U.S. District Judge David Ezra did not concur, and found no liability on the part of the district. The family’s attorney plans to amend the pleadings to provide details of the school’s collusion in the incidents and refile the lawsuit.

Dr. M. Katherine Banks, dean of the College of Engineering at Texas A&M University, announced a new plan to dramatically increase the number of engineering students at the school. The goal is to double the number of students enrolled in the engineering program by 2025. The ambitious program will include new, flexible laboratories that can adjust to the size needed, more technology and more coordination with K-12 schools and community colleges to insure more comprehensive preparation for students. At the press conference where the plan was announced, the A&M president said that although the university wouldn’t be asking for funds from the state to build the facilities, it would ask lawmakers to support the plan.