Category Archives: Elections

Leader Pelosi Meets With South Texas Leaders

Thanks to the Leader’s staff for the invite to a photo-op of this meeting which shows that some folks in DC are actually listening to South Texas leaders regarding issues surrounding the child refugee situation in the Valley. Thankfully, I just received a press release from participant, Congressman Filemon Vela’s office, regarding the meeting.

The highlights:

  • None of the meeting participants expressed any support for reducing the due process rights of immigrant children, modifying the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, or deploying National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border.
  • Participants agreed that the funds requested by the President are desperately needed to deal with unaccompanied children entering through the Rio Grande Valley.

I can’t say I’m in total agreement with the President’s request for money since he has stated that it would expedite court dates and deportation; however, the leaders today were in favor of protecting the due process rights of the refugees and protecting the 2008 Act signed by President Bush.

Leaders who attended provided some pretty strong statements regarding the President’s request for funds and Rick Perry’s National Guard deployment. Yesterday, President Obama announced he would send a Homeland Security team to study whether a federal deployment of National Guard troops would be necessary. Let’s hope he hears South Texas leaders (and not Rick Perry) loud and clear.

  • “As today’s meeting made clear, many South Texans do not support the HUMANE Act’s expedited removal process or deployment of the National Guard to the Rio Grande Valley,” said Congressman Vela. “A better approach is to: (1) provide the needed resources to address cartel activity in Central America, Mexico and across the U.S.; (2) support Customs and Border Protection by providing the necessary funding to increase the number of agents and support personnel; and (3) provide funding to the immigration court system to allow for speedier determinations pursuant to current law while protecting due process requirements of the U.S. Constitution.”
  • “Leaders from across the Rio Grande Valley, who are dealing directly with the unaccompanied children and their families, know firsthand what is most needed on the border and they all agree that sending National Guard troops to the border is not a solution to this humanitarian issue,” said Congressman Hinojosa. “The Rio Grande Valley is not suffering from public health issues or violence from the immigrants so there is no need to militarize the border. Doing so would be an affront to the good qualities our region has to offer.”
  • Texas State Representative Armando Martinez explained, “Deploying the National Guard is the wrong approach and sends the wrong message; we have a vibrant border community that is safe.  Those dollars could be better spent in the community for education, healthcare and transportation.”
  • City of Pharr Mayor Leo Palacios, Jr. noted, “My father came to the U.S. from Mexico in 1913 as a 13 year old boy, scared and penniless as a refugee from the Mexican revolution. He crossed the Rio Grande River along with his younger brothers and sisters, seven in all, seeking safety and refuge from the violence occurring in Mexico at the time. He and his brothers and sisters settled in Pharr, Texas just a few miles from the river they crossed. During the rest of their lives he and his brothers and sisters gave more than they took. His story is not unlike what is happening today. Yes it is 100 years later and many things have changed but what cannot change are the basic principles which have made our country the greatest country in the world today. Senator John Cornyn and Representative Henry Cuellar are both good friends of mine and I respect them greatly,” Mayor Palacios stated.  “However, I in good conscience, cannot support the immigration bill they have put forth. That would be the ultimate act of hypocrisy and contrary to what I have worked for all of my life. That 13 year old refugee from Mexico was accepted by our country and allowed to live in peace, start a life, obtain his citizenship, and contribute his fair share to his new country.”
  • City of Edinburg Mayor Richard Garcia remarked, “The $12 million per month that it is estimated to cost to deploy the National Guard along the Texas border could be much better spent on economic development programs or to provide education to our children.  Crime statistics along the border are relatively low compared to other parts of the state.  Deploying the National Guard to turn away immigrants is not in line with our American values.”
  • Hidalgo County Chief Administrator Yolanda Chapa explained, “This is not a security crisis, and South Texas residents do not feel threatened by these unaccompanied children entering the U.S.  Our border community has compassionately responded to helping these children who are fleeing violence in their home countries.”
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Democratic Responses to the Militarization of South Texas

Well, you all know how I feel about the militarization and politicization of South Texas 100+ days away from election day. Well, the press releases have finally made their way to my inbox and I’ve found these to be the strongest, thus far, especially Senator Rodriguez’s which points to past problems with the use of the National Guard the military at the border:

Leticia Van de Putte for Governor:  But to strictly militarize the border won’t help us meet this unique humanitarian challenge.  The people of the Rio Grande Valley have made that clear.

State Senator Sylvia Garcia:  Putting military troops on the ground is the exact opposite of what we should be doing.  We should be asking the President and Congress to put politics aside to help our border patrol agents deal with this unprecedented refugee situation and to put resources on the ground for the people who are actually tasked with securing the border and those who are sheltering the unaccompanied minors.

By militarizing the situation, we are going to encourage these children and families to avoid the authorities and cause more deaths and confusion.”

Emmanuel Garcia, Texas Democratic Party:  Governor Perry is continuing his routine of photo-op politics to further his Presidential aspirations….Perry’s use of our guard to score political points is wrong. This is a time for humanitarian support.

State Senator Jose Rodriguez:  Let us not forget less than 20 years ago, in 1997, National Guard troops were sent to the border and that action resulted in the tragic death of 18 year-old Ezekiel Hernandez, Jr. National Guard troops have no knowledge or training about the people who live in this region and will serve no real purpose in a border area where migrant children are willingly turning themselves into Border Patrol.

Militarizing the border isn’t going to solve the problems highlighted by the Governor. Neither will blindly spending millions of dollars without discernible accountability or metrics for success.

State Rep. Ana E. Hernandez:  Activating the Texas National Guard and militarizing the Rio Grande border does not address the problem given that these immigrants are voluntarily turning themselves in and according to local law enforcement there has been no increase in crime.

State Rep. Armando Walle:  Sending troops in to scare children is only the latest chapter in Gov. Perry’s pandering to resurrect his failed presidential run. Gov. Perry’s inappropriate, simpleton, and heavy-handed rhetoric and decision-making in this crisis showcase an ability and willingness to to appeal to fringe elements of his party while also serving as an alarming showcase of bad policymaking.

Wendy Davis, candidate for governor, reiterated her call for a special session to fund more deputies. I would respond, but people need to read it from people who don’t look like me, and PDiddie is on it.

Texpatriate has a take, too.

And Kuff has more, too.

 

 

Heroes and Photo Ops

Real Texas Heroes.

I’ve been against Rick Perry’s DPS Surge because the minute I heard about it, I knew he’d use it for propaganda and photo ops. Obviously, in the pic below, Rick Perry is more interested in scaring children with paramilitary uniforms and high-powered weapons. It doesn’t give me the image of “heroes.” I still believe Democrats should stay away from the surge other than to say how much of a waste of tax dollars this is.

 

Introducing…Leticia Van de Putte for Lt. Gov. [VIDEO]

Excellent intro video from the Texas Democratic Convention.

Update on Refugee Situation and Opportunities

LUPE, the Rio Grande Valley group who called for a Facebook bomb of Wendy Davis’ FB page, has pulled its call after a letter from Davis to President Barack Obama was released.

In the letter was a call by Davis for the Obama administration to provide more attorneys guardian ad litem to ensure fair legal representation of the refugee children while they go through the process.

“First, by [the administration] providing a sufficient number of immigration judges and attorneys guardian ad litem for unaccompanied minor children immediately. This will assure a sufficient number of judges and ad litems so that adults and children processed by the border patrol will receive an immediate and fair hearing on their immigration requests and, where appropriate, be repatriated to their native country.”

This is different than the letter she sent to Rick Perry, which called on him to ask Obama for more immigration judges to expedite proceedings, but not ad litems. According to LUPE, they believe legal representation will at least provide the children a fighting chance to win their asylum/refugee cases, rather than get swept up by a punitive mass deportation program. This seems to have been enough for LUPE to end its Facebook bomb request. Other activists are still on a holding pattern as to what is next. My opinion is that this is a long process in a challenging system in which there are few winners, and is clogged by delays that even doubling the amount of immigration judges will not relieve. Immediate needs must be addressed.

Davis also explains her request to Rick Perry to call a state of emergency and special session to discuss the humanitarian needs  of refugees provided by local first-responders and charities. Perry has already stated that allocating the money without a session to law enforcement is enough, which means he has no desire to respond to humanitarian needs of the refugees.

Finally, Davis calls on the Obama administration to reimburse state and local governments for all expenses incurred during this crisis. We all know this is easier requested than actually obtained, considering the Republicans Congress would rather lay blame on policies such as Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals, than actually attempt to come up with and pay for a sensible solution that doesn’t require armed militias and border walls.

That said, this is an ongoing crisis that requires immediate assistance for relief of overcrowded facilities, health risks within these facilities, and developing alternatives to detention that will lessen the burden and cost of warehousing these refugees. Long-term solutions, though, will continue to be a challenge as long as President Obama and Congress continue their political games on immigration reform and deportations that do little to include challenges such as refugee crises. Considering we have known of these refugees since at least 2006, it can be said that ignoring the problem began with George W. Bush in office, if one wants to go on playing games.

In the political sense, Wendy Davis has an opportunity to go above the current conversation and help craft a strong Texas-Latin America policy campaign plank that could serve as a model for the nation that concentrates on improving conditions on both sides of the border–economically and socially–given our economic power and diversity as a state, without the need for punitive, enforcement-only notions. Obviously, the alternative in Abbott-Patrick is not only bad, but a threat to the future of Texas and relations with Latin America.

As has been stated previously, State Senator Wendy Davis has been a defender of the Texas DREAM Act, which allows for in-state tuition for children of immigrants who have been in the state for a certain amount of time. Signed into law by Rick Perry, this can hardly be blamed on President Obama. Davis has also supported a call for comprehensive immigration reform. Abbott-Patrick are obviously more interested in blame games and right-wing rhetoric. Refugee situations, though, have hardly ever been addressed by state governments.

Texas is in need of cooler heads that don’t cause panic; while panic is all the Republicans are interested in causing. Obviously, the refugee/asylum system is not part of a governor’s job description, but our state elected officials must be proactive in addressing these situations toward a positive end for all involved, rather than play politics. That’s the bigger challenge, and if we follow the words of Bishop Doyle, we should come out just fine.

History instead will note how Texas took care of the children that came to her. History may yet tell a tale about how we were made stronger by facing our crisis courageously instead of casting blame for political gain. History may tell how innovative Texans resolved to ensure the health and safety of all those who sought her aid while increasing the economic success of their society. It is my hope that history will tell future generations about how this generation remembered the Texas motto of friendship.

 

 

 

 

 

Obama: I’ll See Your Surge

While the Republicans in DC are talking and talking and talking about immigration, it is President Obama who has called for a border surge. I guess he didn’t want to get outdone by Rick Perry’s $1.3 million per week surge. But this whole game of “quien es mas anti-immigrant” is enough to make one ill–and quite cynical about the offerings of both political parties. The “surge” part is mostly about judges to speed up deportations, since the Border Patrol seems to be catching all these kids; although, Republicans blame Obama’s DACA for the surge, which is a bunch of BS, but great stuff for the TV talking heads.

As children from Central America keep pouring across the nation’s southwest border, the Obama administration announced Friday that it will respond with a “surge” of immigration judges and U.S. attorneys to speed up the deportation of some undocumented immigrants.

The other part of the “surge,” basically, has the President throwing money to Central American countries considered “friendly,” yet whose problems have long been simmering and cause for the influx of these Central American children.

• A $9.6 million grant to the governments of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to build and improve their “repatriation centers,” where deported immigrants are received after they’ve been flown back home.

• The creation of a $40 million program run by the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, to improve citizen security in Guatemala. Administration officials say the violence in Central America is one of the main reasons so many kids are racing to the U.S.

• A new $25 million USAID program to curb violence in El Salvador.

• An $18.5 million grant to Honduras to help community policing and gang-prevention programs there.

That first dot means that kids and their parents will be deported. The grant programs mean that as long as these countries’ leaders stay in place and do as told by the U.S., they’ll keep getting these dollars. Or, at least that’s how “aid” money is usually doled out. How effective this cash will be is up in the air, obviously.

Elise Foley at HuffPost has more information on the “surge,” which includes opening more “family” prisons, like that God-awful one in Taylor, TX.

Family detention of undocumented immigrants was widely criticized when it was used more commonly. The T. Don Hutto facility in Texas hosted families and wasdescribed in 2007 as prison-like, with few services like education or recreation for children. The government announced in 2009 that families will no longer be housed there.

Immigrant advocates argue that the government should not detain families, and instead should use alternatives to detention, until their deportation cases are settled.

“It’s a real step backwards for immigration policy,” said Bob Libal, the executive director of Grassroots Leadership, which advocates for alternatives to detention. “Detention should always be used as a last option … the harm that comes from children from being detained is well-documented, and if we don’t have to do this, we shouldn’t be doing it.”

Just because Dubya Bush isn’t running ICE doesn’t make these new concentration camps, I mean “family” centers, kinder and gentler.

It is safe to say that as we move toward November, 2014, both political parties are in a political crisis when it comes to immigration reform and Latin American affairs. It doesn’t help for 2016, either.

 

 

 

Tweet of the Day: Los 20 Latinos

DC followed the Austin “10-1″ single member districts battle last year and the result is that Latinos in Austin seem to be running everywhere, and not just in one or two districts. Here’s a Tweet from DC friend Paul Saldaña:

Good luck to the candidates, but I have some favorites, thus far. Here’s the list:

Mayor – Council Member Mike Martinez
District 2 – Delia Garza and Edward Reyes
District 3 – Susana Almanza, Julian Fernandez, Miguel Ancira, Mario Cantu, Eric Rangel, Sabino “Pio” Renteria and Ricardo Turollols-Bonilla
District 4 – Gregorio Casar, Monica Guzman, Marco Mancillas, Gabe Rojas, Xaiver Hernandez, Robert Perez, Jr. and Manuel A. Munoz
District 5 – Mike Rodriguez
District 7 – Pete Salazar, Jr.
District 8 – Eliza May

LD Poll: Deportations Have Alienated Young Latinos From Dems

I hate to say “I told you so,” but…

Latino Decisions just released some poll data
on how the Obama Administration’s deportation policy is affecting young Latino attitudes toward the Democratic Party.

What seems to have helped the Obama Administration’s approval numbers all these years is a lack of information.

Somewhat surprisingly, as reflected in the figure below, we found that overall knowledge of the Obama administration’s deportation policies is limited.

Good for El Prez these last five years, not good for Latinos who seem to be less engaged every year. As I’ve always said, Republicans may not be pushing “comprehensive immigration reform” but El Prez does hold the keys to the deportation buses. Of course, boasting about deportations doesn’t work, and that trick about calling him “deporter in chief” didn’t seem to help with Republicans, either.

Still, young Latinos seem to know the difference between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to immigration issues.

Our study then tested the effect of additional knowledge of mass deportations by randomly assigning half of the survey participants, after answering the question on deportations under the last two presidents, with the following: “In fact, the Obama administration has deported around one and half times more people each year than the average under President Bush.” We then asked survey participants whether they see the Democratic and Republican parties as “welcoming, unwelcoming, or neither welcoming nor unwelcoming toward Latinos.” In the control condition with no additional information 55% of respondents rated the Democrats as “welcoming,” compared to 45% among those who received the additional information on deportations; this difference is statistically significant. Learning that Obama has been deporting more people per year than his predecessor makes Latinos view the Democratic Party as less welcoming. Only 9% of our sample rated the Republican Party as welcoming to Latinos, with no significant effects for the experiment.

There’s no doubt that President Obama’s approval ratings among Latinos, generally, has taken a significant hit, especially these last few years. And that can be blamed on a blown roll-out of Obamacare and the Obama deportation policies/record. But I would also venture to predict that a good reason for young Latinos still sticking with Democrats and not Republicans is because of public policies that matter most to them:  student loan reform, health care reform, education, etc. Of course, that’s with no added information provided to those polled about other issues. In other words, the major flaw in this poll is a lack of other issues. Because I’d really like to know how young Latinos feel about a whole list of issues.

Bottom line:  It would seem to me that young Latinos are not necessarily single-issue voters. And that may be the only thing that “saves” the Democrats. Of course, a question that needs to be asked is how would they vote in 2014–or, if they even intend to vote in 2014. And if this attitude is affected by the deportation policy, then the Democratic strategy suddenly gets simpler–if the political will exists. And I won’t hold my breath for that. But it does affect the overall strategy of “turnout, turnout, turnout.”

I will say that the Democratic strategy needs to be much better than just pointing fingers at the other side and waiting for Dan Patrick’s mouth to offend 10 million Texas Mexicans and other Latinos. Something’s gotta give.

NALEO: Over 7.8 Latinos Will Head to Polls in 2014

LatinoVoteWell, 7.8 million (8% of the nation’s voters) certainly isn’t the 11 million which voted in 2012, but I guess it is a non-presidential year. Although Latinos make up 17% of the population, only 11% are eligible to vote.

The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials released a report which included 2014 projections and the effects of voter suppression laws and court decisions. According to NALEO:

  • Nearly seven million Latinos eligible to vote residing in jurisdictions that were previously subject to preclearance pre-Shelby Co. are currently without proactive protections under the VRA.
  • VRAA legislation would restore preclearance protections to more than 4.5 million Latinos eligible to vote – nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of those covered before Shelby Co.
  • Under the VRAA, there are four states that would be required to submit changes to voting procedures for preclearance review prior to implementation. 
  • These states, which include Ga., La., Miss. and Texas, would be required to submit changes to voting procedures for preclearance for at least 10 years.
  • An additional 24 jurisdictions in 12 states could also become subject to preclearance upon passage of the VRAA; approximately 140,000 Latinos eligible to vote reside in these 24 jurisdictions.

There weren’t any projection numbers for Texas, which doing so would be very important given that we have a nationally followed Gubernatorial race and a high-profile Latina like Leticia Van de Putte running for the #2 spot. But we do know there are 4.2 eligible Latino voters, according to NALEO’s press club presentation.

Anyway, that’s where Latinos are at 6 months from Election Day.

Democratic Leaders React to Debate, Patrick

State Senator Sylvia R. Garcia (Houston):  “We have not learned the lessons from the mistakes of Arizona. State government needs to get out of the immigration business. Senator Leticia Van de Putte knows that immigration reform is critical and that it takes more than rhetoric to lead. She knows where we’ve been and she knows where we’re going. She has the strength and foresight to bring Texas into the future.”

State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (SA):  “Dan Patrick and the Texas GOP ought to work with and for the Latino community, instead they have been placing targets on their backs. They should know better. Dan Patrick is the embodiment of the anti-Latino, anti-immigrant Republican Party platform. He’s anti-Dream Act, anti-early childhood education, anti-immigration reform, and anti-voting rights. Dan Patrick is reason why Republican Latino outreach is a joke.

I know where my community stands, I know who they stand with: it’s with Leticia Van de Putte.”

State Rep. Mary Gonzalez (El Paso):  “Tonight, the people of El Paso experienced the real Dan Patrick. One who refers to our border regions as war zones and who does not recognize the rich culture between the United States and Mexico. We need leaders who understand how important family values and unity are to the Latino community. We need a strong female leader, and that leader is Leticia Van de Putte.”

State Rep. Armando Martinez (RGV):  “We need a Lt. Governor who fights for all Texans, not one who insults our region to score political points. Politicians like Dan Patrick continue to exploit border communities for political gain. His divisive language – the fact that he compares my home region as a war zone being invaded – shows just how out-of-touch he is with our community. This is why we need leaders like Leticia Van de Putte. Leaders who will fight for the future of our children no matter what background they come from.”

State Rep. Celia Israel (Austin): “Families in Central Texas and the Latino community understand education is the key to a better future.  I received that message loud and clear in my recent election as I talked directly to voters.  It seems Dan Patrick has yet to understand what voters are most concerned with.  Dan Patrick and his allies can’t have it both ways. He can’t try to court us while attempting to lessen educational opportunities for our kids.. His harsh rhetoric will not be forgotten by the voters this November when we elect Leticia Van de Putte as our next Lt. Governor.”

Leticia Van de Putte Campaign Statement:  “Tonight Dan Patrick repeatedly spoke of his vision of Texas in which there is only “one seat left” and of a Texas that no longer has a can-do spirit. Our state deserves a leader who will learn from the mistakes of Pete Wilson and Jan Brewer and fight for more seats and more opportunity for every hardworking Texan. That leader is Senator Leticia Van de Putte. That is why Republicans and business leaders across Texas are standing with Senator Van de Putte.”

Gilberto Hinojosa, Texas Democratic Party Chairman:  “Mayor Castro did an excellent job tonight, valiantly representing our democratic values.  Dan Patrick showed us once again that Republicans do not represent mainstream Texans. Patrick does not understand that border communities in Texas are an important piece of the vibrant Texas economy. Texas needs a leader who understands business and what makes our state so exceptional, someone who understands the international relationships and rich, uniquely Texan culture pivotal to a prosperous future. Texas needs Sen. Leticia Van de Putte.”