Category Archives: Sensible Immigration Reform

In-State Tuition Opportunity Under Attack

Right-wing Republicans in the Texas Lege have already filed a couple of bills to virtually put an end to in-state tuition rates for 16,000 undocumented students (DREAMers) who meet certain residency requirements.

HB 360, by Rep. Mark Keough, R-The Woodlands, would require individuals to show proof of citizenship or lawful residency to apply for in-state tuition, in addition to meeting requirements outlined in the DREAM Act.

[…]

HB 209, filed by Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, eliminates certain provisions in the act under which individuals could qualify for in-state tuition, including the provision for people who graduated from high school in Texas.

Keough whines that in-state tuition is a “magnet” for immigrants.

I seriously doubt whole families are crossing treacherous territory for the express purpose of paying in-state tuition rather than international student rates. If anything, their first purpose is to establish themselves, get jobs, find housing, feed their families, etc. You know, what people do every day in Texas. Years later, after establishing residency, attending our public schools, and, yes, paying taxes, the least we can do is offer in-state tuition to these hard-working students. It’s a n0-brainer.

Obviously, there’s something else going on with these right-wingers than “saving tax dollars” and “protecting” the locals. The current rhetoric and the anti-immigrant amendment to the DHS budget passed on Wednesday to de-fund President Obama’s executive actions tell us a whole lot more.

They’re just bigots. Or else why would GOPers change their minds on a previously bipartisan measure signed by a GOPer governor?

Thankfully, President Obama has vowed to veto the federal measure if it gets to his desk. And hopefully, enough GOPers will vote against it to kill it in the Senate. (26 GOPers voted against it in the House.) Greg Abbott we’re not so sure about regarding killing the Texas DREAM Act.

Anyway, this is just one of the big fights on immigration and other issues that will surely show the world that Texas will dig itself into an even deeper hole, rather than lift itself based on its diversity and deep talent pool.

Eduardo Maldonado, a 21-year-old University of North Texas psychology major, was one of the dozens of dreamers at the rally.

“I’ve been here 17 years, and I consider myself American and Texan. I grew up here. This is who I am,” Maldonado told the Observer. “I deserve the chance to attend college.”

 

Only One Issue, Wendy?

I have to admit, Wendy Davis’ open carry support didn’t offend me all that much, nor surprise me. That she is calling “backsies” on her support of open carry, though, has really disappointed me considering she supported immediate deportation of the Central American children escaping violence and poverty, as well as Rick Perry’s boondoggle of a DPS surge that has amounted to nothing. Now, I don’t support open carry, but playing politics with defenseless children is a lot more offensive to me than open carry. I think she flip-flopped on the wrong issue if she intends to run again in the future.

Now, Davis got a few points for defending driver licenses for immigrants and joining the usual Dem call for “comprehensive immigration reform,” but when hit with the issue of Central American children, she joined the Republicans on using them for political points.

barbiemigra

#deportationbarbie ?

I was among a few (if that many)  liberal bloggers willing to call her out on her Hillary-like hawkishness toward the children to the point where it earned me a contact from her campaign trying to explain her position away. Whether it was her letter to Obama calling for more deportation judges, her support of the wasteful militarization of South Texas, or a call for a special session to give more money to local border cops (who had previously supported Rick Perry when he bought them with money and toys), all of it was bad. But, no, there were conservative votes to earn, supposedly.

Some Dems were telling me I shouldn’t “cannibalize” Democrats, while they defended Davis. Hell, I thought I would lose my papers–the Democratic ones–by pissing off Democrats.

Some will say she was following her “handlers” orders, but if a candidate can’t tell the difference between good and bad, right and wrong, and feels playing both sides of an issue is an effective vote-getting strategy, then that’s just a loser of a candidate. It happens all the time to Democrats who play that game. “She should have fired the handlers,” some say, but, who has the power to hire/fire handlers; the candidate or the check-writers? Ultimately, the candidate decides which policy track to take, and, unfortunately, based on political calculations rather than on doing what is right.

Of course, I played nice because, what else did we have? Why be mean and call her #deportationbarbie or #migrabarbie if most of us knew what the outcome would be? Sometimes, I’m just too nice, I guess. In reality, it’s not like a flip-flop would have satisfied most voters who winced at her position; if anything, it just would have made voters a lot more cynical (Jim Mitchell at DMN has a good piece on the open carry flip-flop.)

In other words, it was a straight out campaign team decision, not a core belief. This of course raises the question of what else did she say that wasn’t a shading of her beliefs but an outright capitulation of her principles.

The solution:  Always go with what’s right the first time. Of course, some of us are waiting for the flip-flop on this position.

The End of Secure Communities?

A few days ago, Kuff had a short post on the coming revamping of Secure Communities, called for in President Obama’s executive action on immigration. I agree with Kuff, such an action is long overdue as Secure Communities and 287(g) have done much to break-up families and negatively affect local economies across the nation. Of course, I do need to respond to this from Kuff:

I’d like to see what folks like Stace have to say about this before I commit to a position, but “cautiously optimistic” seems reasonable for now.

First of all, I will remind folks that I wasn’t too ecstatic about the executive action as it left people and families out, especially parents of DREAMers who have benefited from DACA, the 2012 Obama executive action. And the reason given by the administration (the lawyers told us to do it!) didn’t really satisfy me, either. Even after reading about DAPA and the deportation reform called for by the newest executive action, and to answer Kuff, I was cautiously optimistic about some of it, and fearful of other parts of the action.

So, as is customary for me, I look to others who have a pretty tight understanding of the issue, such as Prerna Lal, who had a list of the good, bad, and ugly of the executive action. The elimination of Secure Communities, as I suspected, came under the “bad” list:

Elimination of Secure Communities with a new program that targets immigrant communities: DHS is replacing the current “Secure Communities”  program with a new “Priority Enforcement Program” to remove individuals convicted of criminal offenses. While it could be a marked improvement that moves us from a pre-conviction to post-conviction model and uses notification instead of detainers, unfortunately, this continues the entanglement of local law enforcement with immigration enforcement.

The involvement of local law enforcement has always been a sticking point for me. I’ve never been a fan of the federalization of local cops for the purpose of rounding non-criminal working brown people; I don’t care if the cops are led by a Democratic mayor or sheriff. Prerna’s post has more on the deportation aspects of the executive action.

Ultimately, there has been little oversight of SCOMM and 287(g) to the point where there are some Sheriffs who have used it as a political tool, rather than for its actual purpose–to detain and deport major criminals. Furthermore, many local and state governments have refused or stopped cooperation with ICE because of the program’s flaws. And most of these flaws are because of local law enforcement involvement and lack of oversight.

It has been said that a “comprehensive” solution will not come until 2016. That doesn’t necessarily mean anything good, considering we are dealing with a Republican-led Congress. So, for now, we’ll just have to be vigilant of the effects of President Obama’s executive action and the new deportation programs and targets, as Kuff also suggested. As if keeping an eye on the Texas Lege’s quest to stop in-state tuition and proclaim the existence of “sanctuary cities” wasn’t enough.

Administrative Relief Information Sessions – Houston

And the work begins on making sure people are given the right information, as well as some great initial advice. Thanks to Neighborhood Centers and United We Dream for hosting these events.

ncentersea

Executive Action/Admin Relief Watch Parties – Houston

 
November 20, 2014
 
Own The DREAM Admin Relief Watch Party
1900 Kane St., Houston, TX 77007
6pm
 
Mi Familia Vota’s Immigration Action Watch Party
4124 Telephone Road, Houston, TX 77087
6PM
 
FIEL Watch Party
6610 Harwin, Houston, TX 77036
6PM
 
Also…
 
Neighborhood Centers Inc. will be hosting two live watch parties. One at our Leonel Castillo Community Center (2101 South St, 77009), and another at our Baker – Ripley Neighborhood Center (6500 Rookin, 77074).
 
 

 

Executive Action Will Be Announced Thursday; What Should We Expect?

president_signingWell, everyone seems to be guessing, but the overall prediction is that President Obama will act to defer deportations for a few million undocumented folks and he will announce his plan on Thursday. Which undocumented folks from the 11 million, you ask? There’s nothing official, but most outlets are stating the following:

Administration officials say a key part of the announcement will be allowing the parents of American citizens, who are undocumented immigrants themselves, to remain in the United States without the threat of deportation. That would include the parents of legal residents, but not the parents of children eligible for delayed deportation under a rule Obama enacted in 2012.

Up to 3.6 million people would be affected by that change, according to an estimate from the Migration Policy Institute, though the figures are smaller if Obama’s announcement includes a minimum number of years spent in the country.

Mandating parents live in the U.S. for at least 5 years before becoming eligible would bring the number affected to 3.3 million; a 10-year minimum would bring it down further to an estimated 2.5 million people.

In other words, in this scenario, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals would not be offered to the parents of DACA beneficiaries. On the other hand, undocumented parents of legal residents  will be offered deferred deportation. I figure this much has been said in order to lower expectations, although, this blogger has supported including parents of DACA beneficiaries as a means of keeping families united. Over 500,000 have benefited from DACA since 2012.

In regards to DACA, though, it could be the case that President Obama will increase the age cut-off to offer more deferrals under that program.

Officials also said the plan could include a stronger focus on deporting criminals who are undocumented immigrants and an expansion of worker visas in areas like technology.

Obviously, the tech work visas will make Silicon Valley happy, but putting the focus on the original intent of deportation programs, such as Secure Communities, is long overdue. It is said that a huge portion–some say over half–of the Obama administration’s deportations in the last six years have been of people who did not have a criminal record. President Obama recently stated that the United States has been deporting people who shouldn’t be deported.

It should be noted that whatever is announced will not affect a person’s immigration status. It is by no means “amnesty,” since beneficiaries will not have the vast majority of rights as legal residents or citizens.

Obviously, we will not know until the announcement is made. I’ve kept my  expectations low.  Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has stated as much that this announcement will include “border security” efforts.

Above all, the legislative battles will continue; the Republican vitriol will surely increase; and there will surely be some confusion along the way. The best source will ultimately be the White House and Jeh Johnson’s people, since the media will likely be less of an informational source for those who need the information. Or, they could try to prove me wrong.

We still need a permanent solution that includes those basic tenets as family unification, deportation reform, and end to family detention, and a fix to the “legal” immigration system.

The President announces on Thursday, November 20, at 7PM.

 

Is This The Week for Executive Action?

The “will he or won’t he” question is yet to be officially answered, although, there is movement toward President Obama signing executive action to provide deportation relief. Even his Homeland Security guy, Jeh Johnson, is telling us as much, and, as always, “by the end of the year.”

A major hurdle to making any executive action work is in the discussion and getting hotter. Much like Republicans have tried to de-fund Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the Republicans are threatening to do the same to anything the President signs through a budget tactic.

What might be held hostage is a continuing resolution to fund the government beyond the upcoming December 11 deadline.

Conservative members in both chambers want to pass a continuing resolution to fund the whole government with language that expressly prohibits using federal funds to enable any executive action on immigration policy, blocking funding, for instance, of work-authorization documents for illegal immigrants.

Even our own Senate minority leader Harry Reid has encouraged the President to not sign anything until Congress passes the “CR.” Of course, there will also be some Senate Democrats who went down in flames in 2014 even after the President delayed signing executive action for them who will likely side with the Republicans because they have this illusion that they will make a comeback in the future. Also, Claire McCaskill is sounding like her usual anti-immigrant self, although she did vote for the DREAM Act in 2010 after much arm-twisting and narrowing of the proposal.

One scenario mentioned in the National Review article cited above is if the President decides to wait until after the December 11 deadline to sign executive action, the Republicans will pass a short-term CR before the December 11 deadline to keep the government funded  until the new Congress comes in, then, the new Congress can put in the anti-immigrant language into a longer-term CR that de-funds Obama’s action. Whether the President would sign such a CR and, along with the anti-immigration Republicans, shut down the government is the bigger question.

Either way, Republican pettiness will seem obvious, as the President has the legal standing to sign whatever he wants. That the Republicans would hold the American government hostage says a lot more about their feelings toward immigrants, the vast majority being Latino.

With the understanding of the politics behind the continuing resolution, do we want the President to wait until after December 11? Or do we want the fight to begin later this week?

 

 

Luis Gutierrez: David Axelrod Has No Sense of Urgency

Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez gave former Obama adviser David Axelrod a good smack for telling Obama to not sign executive action, and then he said a lot more! Check it out! 5 minutes of awesome.

Fox News Announces Executive Order?

president_signingEarlier in the day, I started seeing some chisme going around that an announcement by the Obama Administration was forthcoming about an expansive executive order on immigration and deportation. By the time I got home, I found out that it was being announced by Fox News.

a source close to the White House told Fox News

and

The president’s plans were contained in a draft proposal from a U.S. government agency.

Well, that’s like hearing reasons why a campaign may have lost in 2014 based on information from fired consultants.

As reported by Fox, it’s pretty much what activists have been requesting from the President:  Deferred deportation, expanding what is known as DACA to parents and family members. It also includes reforming Secure Communities so that it does what it is supposed to do–arrest and deport dangerous criminals; far from what it is doing now. The awkward one was raises for ICE officers for morale purposes.

I can’t say I’m holding my breath, given the source. Whomever leaked it, while the President isn’t even in the country, is showing some lax discipline, but being that it was given to Fox News, perhaps that person wants to kill it. Or worse, rile up the right-wing and then propose a lesser executive order.

Who knows? Too many people are thinking, now. Some are overexcited. I’m taking a wait and see approach.

Given that President Obama is still the truth-teller of the week when he told Face The Nation that “we’re deporting people who shouldn’t be deported,” I’ll wait for it to come from his lips with all the pomp and circumstance it deserves.

Update:  The mainstream news channels are reporting that a “senior White House” person is denying the accuracy of the Fox news item.

It’s Not Just About the Delay on Executive Action

News agencies and pundits have been writing a lot about the failed tactic by President Obama to hold off on executive action on immigration to help a few Democrats win in tough states as the reason Latinos stayed home. I’m sure it’s just one of many reasons.

That said, anti-immigrant Democrats like Kay Hagan pushed the President to not sign anything while they were running to be re-elected so as not to piss off supporters that apparently weren’t even there. The resulting move to the far-right by these Democrats, evidenced in their ads, didn’t work, obviously.

So, now, news people are more than willing to say that Latino turnout may have been affected by the delay. They’re only partially correct. Latino Decisions’ poll stated that immigration became the most important issue for Latinos, nationally, but the delay was more than likely the straw that broke the donkey’s back.

ropemDemocratic activists, candidates, and the White House have been too willing to merrily go on portraying themselves as “pro-immigrant” while the Obama administration has deported over 2,000,000 mostly non-criminal immigrants, warehoused tens of thousands more, and used Central American children escaping poverty and violence as a political piñata for their own (and Republicans’ own) benefit. Six years of punitive policies can wear a group of people down, including citizen-Latinos who vote and who have grown tired of being included in the vitriol (mostly from Republicans, but recently by the likes of Hagan, Landrieu, and Alison Grimes) simply for being the easiest scapegoat.

Of course, all of this is based on a 2007-08 promise by candidate Obama to get this done in year 1 of term 1. Obamacare took precedence, obviously, and a DREAM Act loss in 2010 because of 5 anti-immigrant Democrats looking to get re-elected started the whole questioning of Obama’s direction. Then after DACA energized Latinos in 2012, the second term started with a failed gun control effort taking precedence, thus, wasting political capital that should have been used on immigration reform. Then, we know how the whole bipartisan thing went.

Sure, the Republicans are awful, but as I’ve always said (and made Obama supporters cringe) it is the President who holds the keys to the deportation buses. And it is the President who has held off on immigration reform and executive action for six years, in favor of other legislation, and opting for the illusion that a few political and legislative victories would give him more positive press and polling. Or, perhaps some political capital.

And, now, the Republicans are in charge of some of the governing, as of January 1. President Obama indicates that he will take executive action “by the end of the year” if he doesn’t see an indication by the lame-duck Congress or the incoming leadership to do something. Boehner today warned Obama not to do it, while also stating that the House would not vote on S.744.

It shouldn’t be shocking that the Republicans are talking about immigration reform after winning. They are more than willing to vote on something that is punitive, wastes more tax money on the border, builds more prisons to warehouse humans (as long as it’s Obama that sends them there) and sends profits to their private prison buddies, and that will include a no-citizenship, no-worker rights, just work and be quiet, type of amnesty. Of course, they won’t call it amnesty. The big question is:  When will they do it? Or is it just talk with the option of blaming Obama and Democrats for gridlock when they talk down a very bad GOP proposal?

So, executive action may well be a very temporary thing if it pushes the Republican leadership to supercede the President with their own bill in 2015. Some Democrats, now that they’ve lost everything, are saying Obama should be bold and force Republicans to bash and rescind executive action so Latinos will be anti-Republican in 2016.

Frankly, playing politics with human lives is not my idea of good politics, even for a political victory. There have been smarter ways of achieving political victories by just being bold, but there is no doubt that the President’s clock to be effectively bold is ticking to a stopping point. And fast.

But, no, it wasn’t just about the delay.

President Obama needs to the sign the boldest of executive actions that will stop his family-separating deportation machine and expand DACA to cover more families if he wants to be politically and legislatively effective. It all depends on what kind of legacy he really wants to leave. At least in the eyes of Latinos who gave him 70+% of their votes.

Still, I can’t help but chuckle when asked by Anglo Dems:  How do we get Latinos to vote? And I want to ask:  How do we stop Anglos from giving 80% of their vote to bigoted Republicans? But that may open up a whole other bushel of jalapeños.