Category Archives: Sensible Immigration Reform

AL5s Douglas First Council Candidate to Stand Against SB185

durrelWe all know that SB185 has been getting its debate in Austin with some delays. The question of the matter is whether we want state and local law enforcement agencies to practice legalized racial profiling, which is basically what SB185 does. While some law enforcement leaders have stepped up against the bill, including Sheriff Adrian Garcia, I can’t say there have been many municipal elected officials or candidates for municipal office stepping up. So, to find that Durrel Douglas, candidate for AL5 has made his voice heard by asking Houston City Council to get involved in the issue was refreshing.

While Public Safety accounts for $1.3 Billion of our city’s FY-2015 $4.7 Billion budget, those resources should be used for police training, recruitment and community policing initiatives that build bridges, not break them down.

While some in the state legislature want to increase the burden and responsibility of over-exerted police departments, over the last five years, HPD has solved just 8 percent of burglaries, and the clearance rate has gotten worse, dropping lower every year since 2010 according to ABC-13 (KTRK).  Although SB 185 is to be voted on under the pink dome of our state capitol, our Houston Mayor and City Council members should use their influence to discourage passage of this horrible legislation.

Austin City Councilman Greg Casar, a community organizer, is heading in the right direction as he uses the megaphone entrusted to him by his constituents.

Obviously, this legislation would open the door for racial profiling since people like me wouldn’t be asked to show my papers.  Which race of people would be most likely to be “asked for their papers?”  Racial profiling of any kind is wrong.

Elected officials, conservatives, in particular, enjoy using border and immigration issues for their political purposes. I recall then-District E Councilman Mike Sullivan and then-CM Anne Clutterbuck went on an anti-immigrant tirade in support of 287(g) six years ago. With SB185 being debated, it seems both sides of the issue have been quiet at the horseshoe, but this law would greatly affect City coffers, police services, and community trust of he police. Where’s the outrage against the Lege by our local leaders?

Thanks to Mr. Douglas for bringing it up while it is still being debated.

 

Inbox: Anti-Immigrant Bill Heard in Senate Subcommittee

Credit: State Senator Sylvia R. Garcia

Since I’ve been busy with my move to another part of Houston, I was unable to take part in the actions today at the Capitol. Thanks to Senator Jose Rodriguez’s staff, we got this e-mail about the Subcommittee hearing on SB185–the racial profiling bill (aka sanctuary cities).

 

AUSTIN – Senate Bill 185, which was heard in the Senate Subcommittee on Border Security today, would outlaw so-called “sanctuary cities” — a term that has not been defined — by prohibiting Texas governmental entities from passing laws to restrict police from asking about immigration status.

The bill affects cities, counties, special districts, and districts attorneys. It exempts school districts and hospital districts, but includes peace officers employed or commissioned by school districts and hospital districts.

S.B. 185 specifically prohibits policies that prohibit:

  • Inquiring into immigration status lawfully detained;
  • Sending or requesting information from U.S. CIS or ICE;
  • Maintaining the information;
  • Exchanging information with other state or federal entities;
  • Assisting or cooperating with a federal immigration officer as reasonable or necessary; and
  • Permitting a federal immigration officer to enter and conduct enforcement at a jail.

S.B. 185 provides that any entity in violation shall be denied state grant funds for the following fiscal year after a finding of a violation by a judicial determination. Senator Rodríguez issued the following statement:

Even after today’s lengthy committee hearing, it is still unclear what problem S.B. 185 is attempting to solve. If it’s an attempt to address criminal activity along the border, then we need to better fund local law enforcement, not interfere with local governments’ ability to work with their respective communities. If it’s an attempt to address immigration issues, then that is clearly within the purview of the federal government, not the state.

This bill is a repeat of legislation that was defeated in 2011, and it’s simply bad policy and bad business for our state. I am concerned about the message S.B. 185 sends. Even if it’s not written exactly as Arizona’s S.B. 1070, the intent appears to be the same. The goal seems to be to encourage more local enforcement of immigration laws, and although it could affect anyone, it’s aimed at Texas’ immigrant communities.

With less than eleven weeks left in the legislative session, we have serious business that we need to attend, including passing the budget, school finance, infrastructure and other key governance issues. Yet here we are spending far too much time on legislation that is unwarranted and divisive. I hope that we will prevail as we did in 2011, and the Legislature will demonstrate that Texas is not a “show me your papers” state.

Six major points illustrate why S.B. 185 is bad for Texas:

  1. It seeks to solve a non-existent problem. There is no indication that local law enforcement needs this authority, which is reserved exclusively for the federal government, to keep communities safe. Quite the opposite, as point number two illustrates.
  1. It harms public safety. Today, El Paso County Sheriff Richard Wiles and El Paso County Attorney Jo Anne Bernal spoke out against this legislation because it would undermine law enforcement’s ability to work with immigrant communities and effectively combat cartel activity. Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo and many other local law enforcement leaders have made similar comments.
  1. It’s bad business for Texas. Similar legislation in Arizona cost $5 million in lost taxes from S.B. 1070 and $135 million in lost economic output. As President/CEO of the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce Richard Dayoub testified today, we can’t afford to lose current business or future investors. It also does not make sense to drive workers away from labor-intensive but critical sectors such as construction and agriculture.
  1. It targets children. While S.B. 185 exempts school officials, it includes school peace officers. I’m not one who thinks it makes sense to punish children who are in our communities, regardless of documentation, by pushing them out of school and into the streets.
  1. It has legal consequences that will inevitably lead to racial profiling, and violations of the Equal Protection Clause, the Supremacy Clause and the Fourth Amendment. In fact, the issue already came up in El Paso County, where the El Paso County Sheriff’s Department was sued for pulling passengers off a bus and asking them their immigration status; the lawsuit was settled when the department agreed to establish a written policy and train its officers. Further, it places schools in an untenable position: If their peace officers do not ask immigration questions they could lose state funding, and if they do ask they could be sued in federal court.
  1. It hurts families. So called “sanctuary cities” policies have the potential to divide mixed-status families in Texas. Leading leaders speaking against this legislation today, including the Catholic Conference of Bishops, the Anti-Defamation League, Evangelical Pastors, and numerous other religious orders and clergy members.

Texas Republicans Insist on Racial Profiling Law

tmf185Yep, that didn’t take long.

The Republicans are insisting on a law that legalizes racial profiling for the purpose of local law enforcement playing the role of migra mouse in Texas. In other words, the same law that was passed in Arizona. What was delayed by Democrats this morning is back on the calendar!

Senator Jose Rodriguez had the best point-by-point of how this would just be bad public policy. Read it!

SENATE

NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING

COMMITTEE:    Veteran Affairs & Military Installations-S/C Border Security

TIME & DATE:  8:00 AM, Monday, March 16, 2015

PLACE:        2E.20 (Betty King Cmte. Rm.)
CHAIR:        Senator Brian Birdwell

SB 185        Perry

Relating to the enforcement of state and federal laws governing immigration by certain governmental entities.

 

 

Rodriguez: SB185 is a Rehash of Bill Defeated in 2011

senrdzSenator Jose Rodriguez outlined reasons why SB185, the s0-called “sanctuary cities” bill, is bad public policy. While it’s been delayed, chances are it will be brought back up by the committee.

This bill, a rehash of legislation that was defeated in 2011, is simply bad policy and bad business. I’ve summarized six major points that illustrate why it’s such a time-waster for a Legislature that has important business to take care of — budget and taxes, education funding, access to health care and other key governance issues.

1. It seeks to solve a non-existent problem. There is no indication that local law enforcement needs this authority, which is reserved exclusively for the federal government, to keep communities safe. Quite the opposite, as point number two illustrates. I find this particularly ironic given that it’s being put forth by representatives who claim they are for small government.

2. It harms public safety. In 2011, this legislation was overwhelmingly opposed by county sheriffs and police chiefs. El Paso County Sheriff Wiles spoke out against this legislation because as he stated it would undermine his ability to work with immigrant communities and effectively combat cartel activity. Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo and many others made similar comments.

3. It’s bad business for Texas. Similar legislation in Arizona cost $5 million in lost taxes from SB 1070 and $135 million in lost economic output. We can’t afford to lose current business or future investors. It also does not make sense to drive workers away from labor-intensive but critical sectors such as construction and agriculture.

4. It targets children. While SB 185 exempts school officials, it includes school peace officers. I’m not one who thinks it makes sense to punish children who are in our communities, regardless of documentation, by pushing them out of school and into the streets.

5. It has legal implications that don’t appear to have been thought through. It will inevitably lead to racial profiling. It is likely to lead to violations of the Equal Protection Clause, the Supremacy Clause and the Fourth Amendment. In fact, the issue already came up in El Paso County, where the El Paso County Sheriffs Department was sued for pulling passengers off a bus and asking them their immigration status; the lawsuit was settled when the department agreed to establish a written policy and train its officers. Further, it places schools in an untenable position: If their peace officers do not ask immigration questions they could lose state funding, and if they do ask they could be sued in federal court.

6. It hurts families. So called “sanctuary cities” policies have the potential to divide mixed-status families in Texas. Leading faith leaders opposing this legislation in 2011 including the Catholic Conference of Bishops, the Christian Life Commission, Texas Impact, the National Council of Jewish Women, the Anti-Defamation League, Evangelical Pastors, and numerous other religious orders and clergy members.

Only a few days ago, President Obama, in his Selma speech, reminded us of one of our country’s enduring sources of greatness, immigration. The United States of America still is the world’s greatest destination for those yearning to breath free. We need to fix our system to reflect that reality, not punish those who have risked everything to be here.

Inbox: Sens Rodriguez and Garcia Delay Hearing on SB185

DelayedWell, this is good news. It’s obvious Republicans wanted to railroad this through without debate or discussion given that they called the hearing on midday Friday for 8AM Monday. Is this a delay of the inevitable? Hey, nothing should pass without a real debate–and the opportunity to catch some GOP nut-jobs saying something crazy on camera.

Inbox:

AUSTIN – Today, state Sen. José Rodríguez, Chair of the Senate Hispanic Caucus (SHC), and state Sen. Sylvia R. Garcia, Vice Chair of the SHC, used a Senate rule to postpone the Senate Subcommittee on Border Security hearing on SB 185, the “sanctuary cities” bill, which was scheduled for 8 a.m. The notice for the hearing was published mid-day Friday, which gave potential witnesses insufficient time to make arrangements to testify at the hearing.

“This bill will have a tremendous impact on families, law enforcement and local government. I heard from a number of elected officials and stakeholders that the timing of the hearing notice did not allow for the type of transparent, open debate necessary for such a wide-ranging measure,” Sen. Rodríguez said.

“Senate Bill 185 has major ramifications to our state – to our public safety, to our economy, to the education of our children, and it takes away local decision-making based on the needs of individual communities. It should be carefully considered. In the past, hundreds of individuals have testified against similar legislation. Yet, a hearing for SB 185 was set with less than 72 hours of notice and over a weekend. It has been extremely difficult to get in touch with my local city, county and school officials over the weekend and to inform constituents who want to share their voice. I am extremely disappointed that my colleagues would try to limit public participation in the legislative process with a maneuver like this,” stated Sen. Garcia.

In 2011, a similar bill to this session’s SB 185, which essentially mandates that local law enforcement take on the role of immigration agents, was heard in Senate Transportation and Homeland Security. Concerned Texans from across the state, including religious leaders, city and law enforcement officials, and community members, came to testify in opposition, but they were told they could not because the bill (then HB 12) no longer contained the sanctuary cities language. The language was added back and the measure passed out of committee, with no opportunity for meaningful public comment.

“Despite these tactics, we were able to stop the bill from becoming law by using the two-thirds rule. Now the concept, which would build walls between law enforcement and Latino communities, is back under consideration in the Texas Legislature,” Sen. Rodríguez said. “Law enforcement officials already have testified that it will hurt their efforts to keep communities safe. City and county officials have made clear it will add costs for training, as well as putting them in the precarious legal position of either potentially violating federal law or violating the state law. Faith leaders, business leaders, community leaders — all have testified to the negative impacts of this legislation.

“The business of the state – budget and taxes, public education, infrastructure, and other key governance issues – requires every bit of attention and energy we have. This kind of proposal, which is unnecessarily divisive and not good public policy, has no place in the Texas Legislature.”

Houston Republican Offers Up Unconstitutional Bill

Local Republican state senator Joan Huffman filed SB 174 which would deny “community supervision” or probation to defendants in state criminal courts deemed “illegal aliens” by a state court. According to Gregory Hoffman who heads up the UH Law Immigration Clinic such a law would be unconstitutional, and he said so in an op-ed in the Chron.

Senate Bill 174 proposed by state Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, purports to deny “community supervision” to certain defendants who in state criminal courts are found to be “illegal aliens.” Such a proposed rule is plainly unconstitutional under both the federal and Texas state constitutions. More than that, it illustrates the danger of branding people without any understanding of the complex immigration laws governing noncitizens.

Long story short, the state (including judges) cannot create their own immigration laws, or laws that make it a crime to be an undocumented individual in this state. The recent Arizona case decided by the SCOTUS made that quite clear. That Huffman has decided to use a demeaning term like “illegal alien” to describe people says much about her and those who would support such a bill. That the Republican would want to waste scarce budgetary resources to further fight for such a bill in the courts (because it would end up there) shows that Republicans are more interested in wasting money, than creating practical solutions, or at the very least, supporting comprehensive federal immigration reform. Moreover, Huffman, as a former judge, should know better than to offer up something that is unconstitutional, unless her intent is to clog up the courts until she gets a decision she wants.

Obviously, we’ve been down this road before and Republicans remain adamant about attacking the defenseless, whether they have papers or not.

Even with all of the SCOTUS decisions that would back up Professor Hoffman’s assertion, even our own Texas Constitution seems to back him up.

The Texas Constitution has similar, even arguably more expansive equal protection provisions. In section 3a, it provides that “Equality under the law shall not be denied or abridged because of sex, race, color, creed” or – importantly – because of “national origin.”

Furthermore, section 3 of the state’s constitution provides for equal treatment under the law, considering that “All free men, when they form a social compact, have equal rights, and no man, or set of men, is entitled to exclusive separate public emoluments. …”

The Texas Legislature should carefully consider what a misguided rule like the one proposed in SB 174 would mean. Texas judges are not immigration judges. But even if they were, the determination whether or not someone should be branded an “illegal alien” is determined after a lengthy process by the Executive Office for Immigration Review, a branch of the U.S. Department of Justice.

The decision is made considering the availability of relief, after a full review of a person’s personal and immigration history, among many other factors. A rule which brands people without due process, and in violation of equal protection, cannot stand.

All of this said, I wouldn’t expect overzealous right-wingers to follow the law when they have been on this anti-immigrant, anti-Latino trip since at least 2006 at all levels of government.

Let’s hope though that, as Grits for Breakfast tells us, Professor Hoffman’s op-ed has helped to effectively kill this bill before it even gets out of committee.

Or, Why Wendy, Leticia, and Dems Should Have Opposed the Surge

Lisa Falkenberg at the Chron tells us about the trouble the press is having at getting real figures from DPS and the Texas Government about the “success” of the Rick Perry’s (and now Greg Abbott’s) DPS/National Guard border surge. In my opinion, it’s always been a political sham with racist, anti-Latino undertones.

You will recall that it was a great photo op for Republicans, which left Democrats Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte with little (political) choice but to support the DPS part of the surge, while Davis also supported immediate deportation of children escaping violence and poverty. Obviously, this blog and many activists weren’t happy about it. And while the DNC goes over its autopsy of 2014, one would hope that political decisions such as Dems supporting Rick Perry’s idiotic ideas would be mentioned.

Republicans have decided to continue throwing money at their border sideshow, while negatively affecting National Guard troops who have real jobs and families to worry about, and DPS agents who have better things to do than to militarize the border.

Nothing is more embarrassing than backing a Rick Perry idea only to have it fall flat on its face, as expected by many Dems.

Put this in the Democratic Playbook chapter on What Not To Do.

 

 

UT Chancellor Supports Texas Dream Act

While Republicans in Texas have run and won on anti-immigrant attacks, in-state tuition rates for undocumented students who meet residency and graduation requirements has been the hot anti-immigrant issue in Republican primaries.

The original HB1403, signed by Rick Perry, caused Perry problems when he ran for President in 2012. University and college leaders have always supported the policy, which has helped thousands of Texas students who have established roots in Texas, whose parents paid local property Texas, and have earned a high school diploma. While immigration reform is still in limbo, President Obama’s executive action ensures that this first step for students who utilize this opportunity will be employable in the jobs for which they studied.

Now, UT’s new Chancellor has given his voice to the issue in support of in-state tuition calling it a “morally right thing to do.” As reported by the Trib,

“My job is to help educate the young men and women of Texas,” McRaven said in an interview with Texas Tribune CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith. “If we have been doing that for these undocumented students for, at a minimum, the past three years as they’ve made it through high school, and in many cases since they were in elementary school, I think it’s appropriate to continue to educate them.”

“If not, where will those undocumented students end up?” he said.

He’s talking sense in a world where the Texas Lege has become a tool for destructive practices:  de-funding K-12 and higher education, unlawful and racially targeted voter ID laws, and the decimation of women’s access to health care. What’s next in 2015? Who knows, but Republicans have made it clear that they are not on the right side of history on in-state tuition. Perhaps respected leaders like McRaven will provide the guidance they need to make the right decision.

For more information on the defense of HB1403, visit the website here and enlist in spreading the word.

Update:  New Aggieland Leader Also Supports HB1403

As reported in the Chron, the sole finalist for the A&M presidency, Michael Young stated:

“When I think about the issue of tuition and financial aid and so forth, for me, undocumented is part of it. I realize it’s a politically charged issue to talk about and etcetera and etcetera, but I think we ought to step back and ask that broader question, which is what do we do to make sure that all kids who are prepared and qualified have this opportunity.”

 

 

Garcia, Others Chosen by Obama for Executive Action PR

adrianJulian Aguilar at the Trib reports that a group of Texans have been chosen by President Barack Obama to serve as the PR team to promote his executive action. Sheriff Adrian Garcia, HUD Secretary Julian Castro, construction guy Stan Marek, and Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez were on a call with Obama and his Hispanic appointee Cecilia Muñoz. Pretty soon, the next phase of DACA and the new program DAPA will have their roll-outs, as well as new deportation measures.

A bit of a reminder, Muñoz has done much of the defense of the President’s delays on immigration reform and the defense of his deportation policies. One time, she went so far as calling the 2 million, mostly non-criminal, deportees “collateral damage.”

Of course, the local Sheriff is best known for his defense of the Obama-managed deportation programs like 287(g) and Secure Communities. He had this to say:

Garcia, the Harris County sheriff, said the president’s change would actually promote law and order in his county because people would be more willing to cooperate with law enforcement efforts to fight crime.

“When there are questions and concerns that local law enforcement may become more concerned with a person’s immigration status rather than information that they have regarding cartels, human traffickers or other individuals that are interested in causing harm in our communities, like domestic or international terrorism, it impedes public safety,” he said.

Well, it sounds like the Sheriff has come around, right? Well, an article in Free Press Houston gives some analysis as to where Garcia has been and where he might be nowadays.

The President’s change includes a re-vamped deportation program which supposedly deports the worst of the worse; however, that was the intent as written of the original program. So, it is still a program that will be under the microscope, especially at the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, whether Garcia is at the helm or not.

Given that there is still an imminent announcement of a Mayoral candidacy, Garcia resigning and leaving the post to a right-wing Republican who more than likely will not agree with the President’s executive action will surely put Garcia in a position to defend the President’s executive action during the Mayoral campaign. Certainly, it will also frame the position of a possible Republican appointed Sheriff for 2016.

 

2/7: Congressman Luis Gutierrez Speaking in Houston

Definitely save the date for this important event regarding the President’s Immigration Executive Action:

Immigration Rally on Executive Action

Saturday, February 7, 2015

2:00 p.m. (doors open at 1:15 p.m.)

Lindale Assembly of God

503 Reid

Houston, Texas 77022

What to expect: 

Information about Executive Action

Guests:  Bishop JR Rodriguez, Congressman Luis Gutierrez, Rev. Dr. Gabriel Salguero

For more information:  www.nalec.org