Category Archives: Sensible Immigration Reform

State Senator Sylvia Garcia Hosting Supply Drive for Refugee Relief

From the Inbox:

HOUSTON, TX – Senator Sylvia Garcia is asking the public for help with collecting supplies for the thousands of women and children refugees who are detained in South Texas after seeking asylum from violent conditions in Central America.

In the Rio Grande Valley where many of the refugees are entering the United States,  a group of non-profits have formed a coalition called, South Texas Refugee Response, to provide women and children with basic necessities while they are being processed by Border Patrol.

Senator Garcia is asking the general public and non-profit and faith based organizations from the Houston area to support South Texas Refugee Response, “While there has been much talk about the best course of action to address the increasingly dire humanitarian situation in South Texas, folks from the Rio Grande Valley are stepping up in a big way and giving women and children refugees a place to rest, access to showers, a few changes of donated clothes, meals, and items for their young children. They aren’t waiting on an act of Congress, they are doing something to help people now, and they need our support.”

The supply drive will be held from July 30th to August 15th.

The following Items Are Needed (All Items Must be New or Unused):

Women’s Walking Shoes (sizes 6-7), Men’s Walking Shoes (sizes 7-9) Children’s Walking Shoes, Backpacks, Sweaters/hoodies (small/medium sizes for adults and children), Women’s Clothing (sizes 0-8), Women’s Deodorant, Sippy Cups, Pedialyte, Newborn Nido (zero) formula, Hairnets, Soup Bowls, Disposable Spoons, Clorox, Mops, Lysol, Large Trash bags, Ziploc Bags (various sizes)Women’s Bras (32-34 cups, A, B, C) , Women’s Cotton Underwear (sizes 7 and under) Children’s Cotton Underwear.

Drop Off Locations and Times:

Senator Garcia’s Polk Office 5425 Polk Street, Suite 125, Houston, Texas 77023 M-F 8:30am-5:30pm

Senator Garcia’s East Harris Office 13301 East Fwy, Suite 304, Houston, Texas 77015 M-F 8:30am-5:30pm

Casa De Alabanza Church 10264 North Freeway, Houston, TX 77037 M-Sat 9am-8pm

St. Patrick Catholic Church 4918 Cochran St, Houston, TX 77009 M-F 9am-6pm

Pleasant Hill Baptist Church 1510 Pannell St, Houston, TX 77020 M-F 9:30am-4:30pm

Financial Contributions Can Also Be Made:

Catholic Charities: http://www.cdob.org/catholic-charities135/donate-now

OR

The Rio Grande Valley Food Bank:

https://foodbankriogrande.ejoinme.org/MyPages/DonationPage/tabid/2309/Default.aspx

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100 Days Out, Dems Need “The Talk”

It’s no secret that I’ve been calling out Democratic candidates who are falling short when it comes to the unaccompanied minors crisis. Whether it’s Wendy Davis’ call for a “law enforcement” special session or Hillary Clinton’s “deport ‘em now!” attitude, the current de facto leaders of the Democratic Party are leaving much to be desired when it comes to this particular issue. And I’m not the only one calling them out.

This week, Arturo Carmona of Presente.org, let Democrats have it in an op-ed in The Hill because of their indifference during this crisis. You see, many of my hard-core Dem friends easily point out that Republicans are the problem. As if we didn’t know they would be a problem from Day 1; or as President Obama should have known before he made the “Year 1, Term 1″ promise to pass immigration reform?

The botton line is that we can argue until we’re blue (forgive the pun) in the face, if Democrats simply brush off the commentary and concerns of Latino leaders, in favor of a “at least we’re not as bad as the Republicans” defense of our leaders, then Democrats are just as bad at Latino engagement and outreach as the Republicans.

Carmona hits the nail on the head:

As the unaccompanied minors crisis continues to grow and the calls for executive leadership escalate, it’s shameful that the president has not ceded to the calls for him to visit the border and see the living conditions of these children. He needs to meet with the children we are sending to Latin America to their likely death. According to Latino Decisions, a major Latino polling firm, mass deportations are leading to a hemorrhage of support from the Democrats, particularly among young Latino voters. And according to a recent gallup poll, no other community has lost more faith in Obama than Latinos in the last year.

And if Democrats think that President Obama’s decisions (or lack of) do not affect the Democratic ticket in 2014 and 2016, they are living in la-la land. So,  if what an Obama aide said is true–that an executive order on immigration will be a cause for impeachment–then I would hope that President Obama makes it count.

Of course, the same could be said of Texas Democrats on the 2014 ballot who want to “talk tough” on immigration when the issue is child refugees. But that’s for another op-ed.

 

 

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.”

From The “You’re Doing It Wrong!” Files

The tweet that had my afternoon coffee spraying out my nose was this one from Leader Harry Reid’s Hispanic Media guy. I guess he knew it was good for a great laugh.

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.

 

Look Who’s Running for the Border, Again

Well, it was bound to happen. Domestic terrorists say they are headed for the border to fight brown people.

The mainstream media will call them “anti-government citizen militia groups,” but let’s face it, we know what they really are:  Domestic terrorists. Given their rhetoric, vigilante isn’t even a proper term for them.

These are the same kind of groups as the guy who blew up the Murrah Building in OKC, and the same kind as the Minutemen who are also planning a return to the border. They are the same kind of people I wrote about in 2007 who were into eugenics and promotion of hate, too. And now, it seems, that Rick Perry is willing to act just like them with his deranged conspiracies.

“We’re tired of those SOB’s in Washington D.C. bringing all these illegals into our country and just spreading ‘em out with all their diseases all over the place,” said YouTube user 1HellonHeels, explaining why she is joining “Operation Secure Our Border”, which uses the hashtag #OpSOB on Facebook.

Davis said the “influx of illegal immigrants is bringing bad elements” to the country such as “sickness.”

On Sunday, Governor Rick Perry suggested that President Barack Obama could be leading a conspiracy to bring immigrants into the country.

From USA Today

I would say this would actually give the $1.3 million a week “DPS surge” some actual law enforcement duties, but since they answer to Rick Perry, who knows?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exclusive: DC Responds to POTUS Immigration Speech

My initial reaction.

Really?

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Wendy Davis Called Out on Deportations and DPS Support

Wendy Davis has been called out for supporting Rick Perry’s idiotic and costly DPS trooper build-up on the border and for her own call for more immigration judges and continued detention of refugee children.

One of the largest and most influential activist groups in the Rio Grande Valley, LUPE, has taken to the internet calling for a Facebook bomb of Wendy Davis’ FB account asking supporters to steer her in the right direction on the issue of the refugee kids being warehoused until deported.

As I pointed out, Wendy Davis basically tried to split the difference by supporting the DPS build-up and calling for a special session to concentrate on the human factor. Reading deeper into the letter sent to Rick Perry (as I and all Davis supporters should have), she also called for more immigration judges to basically speed up deportations of these refugee children. Furthermore, the letter states in plain English that these children should be kept in these human warehouses:

(In the context of more immigration judges to deport refugees:  “…I believe that this is the best approach, rather than releasing these individuals and their families at the local bus stop with a hearing set several months in the future.”

There is already a backlog of going on 400,000 cases in the 59 different immigration courts across the country with an average wait of almost 600 days. Keeping a child locked up in a freezing warehouse for two years is just plain inhumane.

So how bad are the waits? Over the years, U.S. has ramped up its spending on immigration enforcementoverall, a 300 percent increase since 2002. Meanwhile, the budget for the Executive Office for Immigration Review (which oversees the courts) grew only 70 percent. A Washington Post profile of one immigration judge showed he had less than 7 minutes to decide each case, no matter the complexity of the law.

Should Davis even be venturing into the federal immigration court process by calling for more judges for the purpose of deporting the refugee children given this fact? Either there is a lack of understanding of an issue that has been allowed to fester for years, or this is just another case of politicians playing politics.

There are a lot of influential, yet disappointed, Latin@s and other progressive/liberal activists right now. This is not an issue on which to play politics. Lives are actually at stake if some of these refugees are returned to their home countries. And pissing off a constituency with very vocal activists is never good for Republicans, and even worse so for Democrats.

Given Hillary Clinton’s recent hardline comments, the Obama administrations tanking numbers on immigration reform, and the Republicans continued blame game of everyone but themselves, we are in dire need of sensible leadership on immigration and Latin American affairs.