Category Archives: 2013 Categories

Poll: 25% of Latinos Are Clueless, Self-Hating Trump Supporters?

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Credit: Lalo Alcaraz/GoComics

While the media is selling the latest poll of Latino thoughts on Donald Trump as “75% having a negative view.” I’m pretty concerned about a quarter of those polled being accepting of Trump’s message; not surprised, but concerned, as they could easily accept the usual GOP message on Latinos and immigrants. Given recent elections, they probably have accepted the GOP message.

More specifically, the poll found the following:

Asked to assess that comment (about immigrants being rapists and drug dealers), 55 percent of Latinos said that the remarks were “insulting and racist and have no place in a campaign for president.”

Another 29 percent said that “Trump should have been more careful with the language he used, but he is raising an important issue.” Fourteen percent said that “Trump had the guts to say exactly what was on his mind about an important problem we need to deal with.”

A huge majority also found that Trump is hurting the GOP’s image. I would ask, “More than usual?” Let’s face it, the GOP has a “nice” way of insulting Latinos and immigrants, which probably coincides with the 29% who felt Trump should have said it differently. Be nice, but we still won’t vote for you, might be the message.

Frankly, what the poll found is not surprising. That Democrats, throughout this Trump media frenzy, have simply pointed and blamed on the issue is disappointing. This is an opportunity to lead on immigration reform, deportation reform, and immigrant warehousing (detention)–and that goes for Bernie, too–along with the rest of the issues in which Latinos poll strongly progressive. Whether Dems will wake up to this is still yet to be seen, so, here’s another opportunity.

10 Mothers Lodge Complaint Against DHS Family Detention Centers

Credit: DMN

It is time to #endfamilydetention. Although a judge has condemned the deplorable conditions at these privately-run prisons and has called for the release of these families within the next ninety days, the Obama administration will more than likely appeal the decision and continue FDR’s tradition of warehousing immigrants.

Here’s the press release from American Immigration Council on the complaint.

From the Inbox:

Deplorable Medical Treatment at Family Detention Centers
Mothers Lodge Complaint with DHS Offices for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and Inspector General

July 30, 2015

Washington, DC — Today, ten mothers came forward to lodge formal complaints about the substandard medical care they and their children received while detained by the Department of Homeland of Security (DHS). The complaints describe the severe suffering families have endured due to poor access to and quality of care, and questionable medical ethics. These ten complaints are representative of the regular failures of DHS to provide adequate medical care for mothers and children in family detention facilities, and they add to the already ample evidence demonstrating why family detention must end.

The deplorable medical treatment described in the complaints include:

  • Wait times of up to 14 hours, in the direct sun, in order to be seen by medical staff;
  • A mother with two broken fingers denied medical care and advised to “drink more water”;
  • A mother with breast cancer repeatedly denied care despite suffering severe symptoms and weight loss;
  • More than 250 children given adult doses of the Hepatitis A vaccine;
  • Children left in the care of guards, sometimes for days at a time, when women are transferred off-site for emergency or specialized medical care;
  • Administration of intravenous fluids through a bent needle;
  • A five-year old repeatedly transferred off-site for medical care only to have on-site medical professionals later refuse to issue prescribed medication;
  • A family denied food and placed under enough stress to prompt a suicide attempt;
  • A child who was vomiting blood told only to drink water and not referred to external medical care until three days later.

The majority of the mothers with medical complaints have attempted to seek medical care on more than one occasion, only to find themselves waiting endlessly, sometimes in dangerously hot conditions in the extreme heat and sun common to southern Texas. In at least one instance, a woman who had to leave the medical line after waiting for hours was forced to sign a letter stating she refused medical care. Some mothers reported that their children had adverse reactions to their vaccinations, including temporary paralysis, vomiting, and high fevers.

One woman described her medical experience in Dilley saying, “Simply, they don’t care. What is more important for them is control. These are delicate situations when someone is sick and vulnerable. They just care about control. I thought I came to this country to escape abuse, mistreatment and disrespect. But it’s the same here.”

The complaints were submitted to the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and the Office of Inspector General (OIG) on behalf of the women by the American Immigration Council (“Council”), American Immigration Lawyers Association (“AILA”), Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (“CLINIC”), Immigrant Justice Corps, Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (“RAICES”), and the Women’s Refugee Commission (“WRC”).

These six organizations urge both CRCL and OIG to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation into these examples immediately and to take swift action to fully address the systemic problems highlighted by these cases. Advocates have heard from women about many more medical care problems, including 74 additional instances at the facility in Dilley, Texas alone, since June 2015. The medical abuses highlight the urgent need to #EndFamilyDetention.

DosCentavos Feels the Bern

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I joined over 5000 of my closest friends and attended the Bernie Sanders rally at UH Hofheinz on Sunday evening and I must say I was impressed in a lot of ways.

Sure, I was expecting a great, truly progressive speech from Senator Sanders–even after the weirdness of #NN15–but what I didn’t expect was such an amazing atmosphere. The diversity in the room was notable, if only because I had recently been reading some snark on Facebook by Hillarite friends of mine talking about how “white” Sanders’ events had been. The Houston event, though, blew those notions away. The bottom line:  A diverse cross-section of America seems to be listening to Bernie Sanders because he’s saying the right things on most issues, rather than just speaking in one-liners (evident in a one-hour speech).

Now, much like Hillary Clinton, Sanders has not provided expanded answers on immigration reform (usual standard stuff), but after Saturday, Sundays venture into racial justice issues hit all the right notes. While Clinton has offered her standard stuff on immigration reform, she also has a record of calling for immediate deportation of children and more deportation judges, so, the negative stuff being tossed about by her fans against Sanders on the issue really hasn’t affected what I think of Sanders. I’m hoping Sanders expands on the issue, as well as Latin American affairs in the future.

PDiddie expands on what Bernie said, so, no sense in rehashing the speech. I will provide a youtube of film I took when Sanders began his talk on racial justice and immigration, in case he is still receiving criticism. The good thing about the #NN15 stuff is that, hopefully, Dem candidates will begin to speak on the issue. Ultimately, this isn’t about race or identity politics, it’s about expanding the space that the issues have received in Democratic Party politics (more on that in the future) and actually doing something about these issues. If Dem activists cannot handle it, then we can’t win in 2016.

As far as the event, it was good to see fans of Hillary and other Dem activists in the crowd. I think we were all looking for a dose of energy because these are our issues Bernie was hitting on. Primaries are a good thing, nationally and locally, so, let’s enjoy the discussion.

DC Review: Ram Herrera ~ Mucho Mas Que Amor

ramherrera-muchomasqueamor1I’ve got to admit:  When I read the announcement that Grammy winning producer Gilbert Velasquez and Tejano great Chente Barrera partnered up to form VMB Music Group, I expected them to produce some amazing material, but Ram Herrera’s Mucho Mas Que Amor is one of those productions that has staying power.

What do I mean by staying power? Well, in the case of Ram Herrera, it brings back memories of his ’84 Dancebuster album and some of his 90s hey day productions–tunes that are still popular and make much of the crooner’s repertoire. The Tejano artist who got his start as the frontman for David Lee Garza y Los Musicales and made famous Cuatro Caminos still has the voice decades after hitting it big.

After being on big labels during the 90s hey day, he went through a few indie labels and finally arrived at VBM Music Group. I must say that this new production is among his best–from Track 1 on through to 11.

Kicking off with Eres Mi Todo, a standard ranchera, Herrera sets a foundation for the album–all Tejano. The acordeon-heavy Donde Estara will get one on the dance floor. The first single (and videoDC ) is Dime Si Estoy Loco, with a familiar Ram Herrera cumbia sound and with a pretty awesome guitar break.

With these tunes, the groove for the album is set, and the addition of a ballad (Yo Te Amo), another cumbia (Alejate), a country tune (I Wonder If She’s Still in San Antone), and some pretty powerful rancheras (Los Años being my personal favorite), and Herrera and his musicians knock it out of the park. With the help of some great acordeon and some powerful guitar breaks, Herrera’s latest should be a contender for a Grammy. That said, kudos must go to Grammy winning producer Gilbert Velasquez and VMB.

Yo Te Amo, with its trio style, backed by horns, is a beautiful ballad, while one particular ranchera made famous by Selena Amame Quiereme, was made available to Herrera who makes it his own. Rounding out the tunes are Te Necesito, Angel De Mi Querer, and Porque Dios Mio.

Already in demand, VMB released the album for digital download (I went to CDBaby.com), but it will be available for hard-copy orders on Tuesday, July 14. Get yours today! You will not be disappointed.

Adrian Garcia Raises $1.5M in 56 Days

adrianpicThe Adrian Garcia for Mayor campaign reports raising $1.5 million in the 56 days it had to raise funds before the first reporting deadline. Giving credit to grassroots energy and a base of loyal supporters, Garcia states that voters are attracted to his fiscally responsible management practices during his terms as Sheriff.

Garcia:  “Our message that we reformed the Sheriff’s Office, saved the taxpayers millions of dollars, and kept people and families safe is resonating with voters across Houston.  We will bring that same fiscally responsible approach and smart management practices to tackle the tough issues at City Hall.  The broad base of support we have already built puts us well on the way to victory in November.”

Local pundits had stated that for Garcia to look viable he would need to report raising at least $500k during this period, shortened because he was still on the job as Sheriff. Pundits also stated he would need to raise $2 million or more to run a viable campaign thru the first round. What this blogger noticed upon Garcia’s launch was a burst of energy and excitement from supporters that I hadn’t seen in a local campaign, especially from people who aren’t always involved in the political process. From Garcia, I expect a pretty different campaign than what we have seen from others in the recent past.

That said, for perspective, Garcia’s fundraising abilities seem to be pretty awesome if one considers the first Annise Parker campaign in 2009 raised about $800,000 in a period of five months. Garcia’s campaign calls it unprecedented in Harris County. I’m not surprised that he could do it given the energy that is backing him up, but I think I did let out a “¡Hijole!” when I read the press release. Or something like that.

Garcia’s campaign is quick to point out that he basically started from zero in the fundraising department and that he did not transfer any money from his Sheriff’s campaign account. As the Garcia campaign stated:

“We have always believed that Texas Ethics Commission rules and the City of Houston’s campaign finance laws were clear that it is inappropriate to raise money into an account for a different office with the intent to transfer those funds into a city campaign account.  We saw this recently in San Antonio when Leticia Van De Putte ultimately decided not to transfer funds from her lieutenant governor’s campaign account into her mayoral campaign account.”

As some will recall, Garcia opponent, Sylvester Turner went on a fundraising frenzy during his re-election campaign for State Representative and it is known that he will be transferring as much of the million dollars in his legislative account into his mayoral campaign account as possible. It is what it is, I guess.

Obviously, I’m looking forward to the actual report, but I am told that in-kind contributions to Garcia were minimal considering that we’re talking seven figures in total contributions. So, we await the press releases and finance reports from everyone else in the race. I can’t say I’m a fan of money races in politics, but, as they say, “money isn’t everything in a campaign, but it helps.”

The Myth That Is a Kinder, Gentler Rick Perry

ef6ca-shrp2Much is being made by the media  about Rick Perry’s supposed move to be the kinder, gentler Republican in the race for the GOP  nomination for President. Perry’s announcement that he was “offended” by Donald Trump’s anti-Mexican remarks need to be met with a certain reality:  Perry’s policies prove he is worse than Trump. Perry’s record speaks for itself:

  • The DPS Border Surge in response to children escaping violence and poverty from Central America. (Failures all around)
  • Cutting $4 billion from K-12 and $1 billion from higher education.
  • Anti-Woman policies to close women’s health facilities.
  • Attempts to keep Texans uninsured–would not support Medicaid expansion.
  • And a whole lot more. We know what Rick Perry is all about–destroying Texas.

That’s the problem with the whole Donald Trump BS that has overtaken political news. While Trump will open his big mouth, there are candidates for the GOP nomination with a right-wing record who will now try to play nice offering worthless platitudes. What’s next? Public eating of Mexican food?

Anyway, at this point, it would seem that Rick Perry has as much of a chance for the nomination as Donald Trump (despite Trump’s rise in the polls). What we are seeing because of Trump are the true colors of some in the GOP, and the lengths to which some will go to gain political points; even by attempting to play nice despite the policies they promote. Ultimately, it’s policies that matter and we need to pay attention to the policies (and pronouncements) of every candidate.

The Trump Thing and Latino Voting

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by Lalo Alcaraz

Fact:  Trump is a pendejo. Fact:  All the pageant and show cancellations are not going to hurt Trump’s wallet. So, what else are all the hurt Latinos going to do after the Trump anger fades away?

What was noticeable in all of this was Latinos declaring that they would not be voting for Trump in 2016. Of course, I asked myself if they meant in the Republican Primary or in November 2016? Given that not many Latinos vote in the GOP primary, I’m guessing they meant November, in which Trump was likely not going to be candidate, anyway. So, those declarations didn’t excite me much, but if it means more Latinos are going to show up or get involved, great!

But let’s look beyond the idiotic comments and pay attention to issues, like health care, education, jobs, economy, and yes, immigration. Who has real solutions, or which candidates can we as voters drive toward real solutions, rather than just the usual campaign talk? Thanks to Trump, folks are paying attention, so, campaigns need to talk issues rather than just point fingers at Trump and Republicans.

In the quest for higher turnout, Latinos won’t respond favorably to blame, though.

Here in Texas, no sooner did Leticia Van de Putte lose in her bid for Mayor of San Antonio, I started seeing rants from liberals and Dems blaming Latinos for the loss. It was a bit annoying, considering it was coming from folks who are part of the problem and who refuse to look inward for solutions.

My friend Joaquin Guerra from TOP penned an excellent op-ed. Here’s a bit of it:

If we’re not part of the plan to win or part of the engagement strategy, then, no, we’re not to blame for the fact that you came home and dinner wasn’t waiting for you on the table.

Stop taking us for granted.

Here are five tips for politicians, pundits, reporters, editorial boards and political consultants who are scratching their heads about what happened:

  • Respect: Stop implying that Latinos are too lazy and disinterested to vote..
  • Ask Latino voters what’s important to them.
  • Lean into economic and racial justice issues. Economics and race are at the core of some of our biggest problems.
  • Make Latinos part of the solution.
  • It’s not just about Latinos. We’re all in this together. It’s easy to look at voter data and say that Latinos don’t vote, but the reality is that Texans as a whole don’t, either.

Read the whole thing and not just the tips I took out of the article.

The bottom line is that Latino hires and token words by campaigns aren’t enough to excite Latino voters. And avoiding questions surely doesn’t help. And, it certainly doesn’t help when Latinos are used by supposedly liberal candidates as a piñata to gain a few right-wing votes, either.

Obviously,Trump’s Mexican attack was an attempt to gain votes in the GOP primary, and we’ll hear it from other Republicans, too. But, Dems do it as part of a continually losing strategy, too, if they get desperate enough. It needs to stop and Trump is just the tip of the iceberg.

So, let’s take Joaquin’s tips seriously. Seriously.

KHOU 2015 Mayoral Poll Has Some Interesting Results

adrianpicNot surprisingly, the first poll of the 2015 Mayoral race has Sylvester Turner (16%) and  Adrian Garcia (12%) leading among likely voters. Because I’ve always thought that the entry of Adrian Garcia would change the dynamic of Hispanic voter participation, I was not surprised to see that among registered voters, with a larger sample of Hispanics, Garcia is in the lead 15% to 13%. In other words, because of Garcia’s entry, I’d put some weight on increased Hispanic participation in 2015 and voters who don’t usually participate. Wishful thinking on my part? Perhaps, but I don’t think of Adrian Garcia as an LVdP type of candidate–for those who want to make comparisons to San Antonio. In other news, KHOU reported on Wednesday night that among Anglo voters, Garcia held a 13% to 9% edge on Turner, which made the results all the more interesting.

turnerFor those who are surprised at the Garcia result, they must look beyond the usual Democratic club meetings and Dem activist Facebook posts, where there was much more animosity toward Garcia for his decision to run for Mayor. Perhaps a higher GOP sample may provide conservative candidates like King and Costello some higher numbers, and, in time, Republicans will find out who their “R” candidate is. This is just the first poll. Things will look different in the future.

Of course, there is the matter of name recognition. That Chris Bell is in third place in the poll shouldn’t be a surprise as he’s run locally and statewide. If indeed Democrats were oversampled, then that may be why Bell polled at 8% in the likely voter category. But among registered voters, he only polled at 4%, as did Stephen Costello (2% of likelies). Perhaps money and TV ads will help in this regard.

The polling questions on issues tell us that Houstonians like the direction Houston is heading, that they still like Mayor Parker, that they don’t want a sales tax increase or tax dollars spent on the Astrodome, but that they do want their traffic and roads fixed. Given these results, it may be that voters are looking for a positive, unifying figure, rather than an angry, blaming one–even with a higher GOP sample. Certainly, we can’t go by the opinions of non-Houstonians who comment in the Chronicle, right?

Perhaps we will see campaigns bolstering their messages, while others change them altogether. Or, the attacks may begin in some attempt to gain traction or attract the 50%+ who have not yet decided. Certainly, the results of the poll will be cause for concern for some in the check-writing-class of our local democratic system. Here’s hoping for a continually educative process, rather than one filled with negativity.

At least, that’s my take on this day.

Polls, as they as say, are just polls. Usually not the best measure of a race, but a measure nonetheless, they are still a snapshot from which to move forward. For me, at least, the poll did wake me up with the hopes of a more exciting summer.

PDiddie and Coby have their takes. Kuff has an excellent take, too.

Stay connected!

Obama’s Newest Deportation Program Slammed by Civil Rights Groups

Many of us have been waiting for the first assessments of President Obama’s “Priority Enforcement Program.” Would it be an actual new program, or just a re-branding of Secure Communities? I’ll let this press release  from the National Day Labor Organizing Network explain:

Civil Rights Organizations Slam DHS’ Latest Deportation Program; Call on DHS to Discontinue Use of Unlawful Detention Requests

Replacement for Discredited “Secure Communities” Program Suffers From Serious Legal Flaws that Expose DHS and Cooperating Law Enforcement Agencies to Liability

Wednesday, June 16, 2015—In response to new details released on Friday about DHS’s “Priority Enforcement Program” (PEP), prominent civil and immigrants’ rights organizations today delivered a letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) calling for an end to detention (“detainer”) and notification requests. The letter asserts that PEP—created as a replacement for the controversial Secure Communities program— suffers from many of the same legal problems that contributed to the agency’s decision to end the Secure Communities. As a result, local law enforcement agencies that choose to participate may face liability.

In the letter, the organizations call on DHS to discontinue the use of “immigration detainers,” which ask local law enforcement agencies to detain individuals in their custody after their authority to hold them expires. After a series of federal court decisions last year holding that immigration detainers fail to comply with the Fourth Amendment, hundreds of local law enforcement agencies across the country adopted policies prohibiting compliance with immigration detainers absent a judicial warrant or judicial determination of probable cause. DHS still does not provide a judicial determination of probable cause either before or after issuing an immigration detainer, in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Jessica Karp Bansal, NDLON Litigation Director, said, “When DHS first announced PEP back in November, it acknowledged the need for reform in light of federal court decisions holding that immigration detainers do not provide a lawful basis to detain a person. So we were surprised to learn that DHS plans to continue issuing detainers through PEP that don’t comport with constitutional requirements. PEP creates a trap for unwary local law enforcement agencies, which will be subject to legal liability should they choose to participate.”

In addition to legal concerns, the letter also criticizes PEP as contravening the recent recommendation from the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing to “decouple” federal immigration enforcement from local policing.

Said Salvador Sarmiento, NDLON Legislative Director, “PEP is completely out of step with the national conversation on the need for policing and criminal justice reform. We question why DHS is continuing to entangle local police in immigration enforcement when the President’s own Task Force on 21st Century Policing recommended against doing so. The result will be the same kind of deterioration of police-community trust that we saw with Secure Communities.”

DHS responded to the widespread criticism of the Secure Communities program in November with plans to discontinue it; however, ICE’s new PEP forms and informational material, released last Friday, suggest PEP is little more than a re-branding of the same flawed product.

The letter and more info on PEP available at: www.ndlon.org/en/pressroom/press-releases/item/1148-release-civil-rts-groups-slam-latest-dhs-deportation-program-demand-dhs-discontinue-unlawful-detention-requests

DC Reviews ~ Los Texmaniacs – Americano Groove

grooveGrammy Award winners, Los Texmaniacs, are back with a new studio album–Americano Groove. The new album is bold, offering a variety of music:  Tex-Mex, cumbia, country, funky Latin rhythms, and other familiar stylings in music.  Throw in a star-studded group of guests like Alejandro Escovedo, Kevin Fowler, Joe Ely, Rick Treviño, and Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo and you have the makings of a collector’s item. It truly is an Americano Groove.

Down in the Barrio kicks off the album; a tune filled with social commentary about barrio realities and solutions. Escovedo joins in on this one while the band provides a solid rhythm. Ya No Te Quiero Ver is a sped-up polka
“tell-off” tune that allows Josh Baca to flex his acordeón abilities and Max Baca isn’t too far behind with a bajo sexto solo. How Can a Beautiful Woman Be So Ugly has that Tornado-esque feel created by Augie Meyers’ organ while telling us the story of a heartbreaking woman. How Long Is Patient is a Baca-delivered ballad, with help from Tania Marie, centered around the strumming of a bajo sexto and an electric guitar–a pretty awesome combo.

Country star Kevin Fowler joins the production on Adios Mamacita–a fun Tex-Mex rockabilly tune about a crazy, yet fun, woman. Known for their power polkas, Max and his nephew Josh Baca on acordeon take us back to when polkitas were played with a bajo sexto and acordeon around a camp fire with Muchachos Alegres. Then, the legendary Joe Ely joins in on I Wanna Known Your Name, in another Tex-Mex rocker of a song.

Herido, a haunting ballad about love ending, is aptly delivered by drummer/guitarronista Lorenzo Martinez. Como Te Quiero is a ranchera that has gained popularity at live gigs and was showcased at the 40th Anniversary concert of A Prairie Home Companion. With the traditional conjunto sound with slide guitar thrown in, this tune will definitely be a favorite.

Rick Treviño proves he’s still got it with the country tune Big Night in a Small Town. Los Texmaniacs add in what can be called a cumbita raza, Mentirosa, with its barrio slang, and Lobos-esque style and harmonies; not to mention a searing guitar solo by David Hidalgo. And the album ends strong with Polka Palitos, again, done in the traditional bajo/acordeon style of the old days with a strong full conjunto ending.

The album was produced by Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin, a legend himself. There’s an obvious tell of his involvement with how easily various non-conjunto instruments are mixed in. More than the obvious risk-taking in doing a different kind of Tex-Mex album is the feeling of how fun it may have been to record this project. To have been a fly in the wall of that studio.

Anyway, look for the album online. Since I really wanted the liner notes to this one, I found it at Wal-Mart this morning. Get your copy today!