Texas Matters: FLDS Ranch Raid Remembered & Impact Of Citizenship Question On Census

Apr 2, 2018

On this episode of Texas Matters we look at:

  • Ten years later: the children from the Yearning For Zion Ranch raid remembered.
  • The impact of the citizenship question on the Texas census count (12:00).
  • Commentator Yvette Benavides looks at the Parkland shooting, the "March For Our Lives" and her own classroom (22:00).


Ten Years Later: The Children From The Yearning For Zion Ranch Raid

On March 29, 2008, a Texas domestic violence shelter hotline received a call from a female claiming to be a 16-year-old victim of physical and sexual abuse at the Yearning for Zion Ranch.

The YFZ Ranch was located 40 miles outside of San Angelo, just outside of the town of Eldorado. Members of a Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints Church had moved to the area and developed the ranch, seeking an isolated area to avoid scrutiny from anti-polygamy activists and law enforcement officials.

The caller said her name was Sarah but she was never found. The call, however, did trigger a large scale investigation by Texas law enforcement and child welfare officials.

On April 3, they cordoned off of the ranch. Law enforcement officers armed with automatic weapons, and SWAT teams — with snipers, helicopters and an armored personnel carrier — went onto the property an were met with no armed resistance.

Also entering the compound were case workers from Child Protective Services. They were there to take the 468 children into the care of the state.

Eventually the leader of YFZ, Warren Jeffs, and nine other men were convicted for sexually abusing young girls. Jeffs is serving a life sentence.

Nate Carlisle, a reporter for the Salt Lake Tribune, wrote the story  “‘I expected the world to be in flames’: Hear from the children taken from a Texas polygamous compound, 10 years after the raid” and will discuss what he found when he caught up with some children from the ranch.

U.S. Census & Citizenship: Down For The Count

The U.S. Census Bureau announced plans to include a question about citizenship status in the 2020 census form. This question has prompted questions about why was it suddenly added and is it is part of an effort by President Trump to politicize the national count.

A group of 14 states — led by California but not including Texas — filed suit and are trying to force the Commerce Department to back down and leave the citizenship question off the census. But even if the block is successful, the damage might already be done.

Census data is used to determine congressional apportionment for the next decade, as well as the allocation of federal funding for infrastructure and education. Rice University sociologist Steve Murdock is the former director of the Census Bureau and discusses the impact of low census response scores on the state.

Commentary: March For Our Lives

The March for Our Lives protest took to the streets of Washington D.C.  It was led by the survivors of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting and has inspired many across the nation to question the enormous political power of the National Rifle Association. TPR contributor Yvette Benavides watched the coverage of the march and she can’t help thinking about the students that she sees in her own classroom.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org or on Twitter @DavidMartinDavi