Category Archives: Sensible Immigration Reform

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.”

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Tuesday: Julian Castro vs All Anti-Latino Republicans

The Mayor of San Antonio, Julian Castro, will be debating Dan Patrick on the issue of immigration on Tuesday, 4/15. Really, the good Mayor will be debating the entire Anti-Latino, anti-immigrant Republican Party since Dan Patrick represents the most divisive segment of Texas politics.

Frankly, I am of the opinion that this shouldn’t even be called a debate. Dan Patrick has never offered an ounce of fact in any immigration-related comment he has given. Instead, Dan Patrick has portrayed immigrants and Latinos as disease-carrying criminals who are invading Texas, which his base just loves to repeat. I expect some good facts from Mayor Castro, so, at least his side of the debate will be educative.

Mike Thomas with the SA Business Journal provides the details.

What began as a challenge over immigration policy posed on Twitter will culminate in a one-hour forum where the two politicians will discuss their views on immigration and border security at the Univision San Antonio studios. The discussion will be moderated by Evan Smith, editor-in-chief of the Texas Tribune, and will be streamed live on Univision41.com and TexasTribune.org beginning at 6 p.m.

I’ll be checking it out, for sure.

Republicans Block Chavez Resolution Because of Immigration

Unsurprisingly, the Republicans in the US Senate blocked a resolution honoring late labor and civil rights leader Cesar Chavez. Why? Because the Republicans wanted to honor Chavez’s anti-immigrant work.

But Republicans blocked it after Democrats refused their demand that they also include in the resolution mention of how Chavez pushed for tighter border security and saw undocumented immigrants as detrimental to U.S. workers.

I mentioned this particular fact about Chavez’s life in the review of movie last week, and it is a part of his life that Republicans have tried to exploit for their own benefit, much like they attempt to co-opt Martin Luther King’s Republican past.

Much like most labor unions, the United Farm Workers were opposed to immigrant labor because of how easy it was to exploit this source of cheap labor, thus making it easier to end the labor movement. While Chavez and the Union wanted fair labor practices and fair pay for what were mostly American citizen workers, it was people like Ronald Reagan and other Republicans who would have none of that and supported strike-breaking in the form of immigrant exploitation. Some things never change, much like the corporations that want to exploit immigrants today in order to avoid benefits like health insurance, equal pay, and simple worker protections. It really is an old Republican strategy of “divide and conquer.”

Ultimately, Cesar Chavez changed course on immigrant rights as the Chicano civil rights movement took on a more global view of labor, civil and human rights. Plus, the Union was in need of membership. Obviously, Republicans have never supported civil and human rights for anyone, much less labor rights.

Frankly, I’m not much into empty resolutions when Congress isn’t getting any real work done. I want public policy, like, I don’t know, immigration reform, equal pay, jobs creation, health care reform/single payer, education funding, stuff like that. But it’s not like the Republicans will ever support anything of value to a majority of this country.

 

Pinche Ronald Reagan and Other Reactions to Cesar Chavez

Thanks to the good folks at AARP-Texas, I had the opportunity to enjoy an advanced screening of Cesar Chavez, the biopic about the late Labor and Civil Rights organizer and leader.

Given the various stories about Chavez, I didn’t know what to expect from Director Diego Luna and his crew. What I got was a fast-paced journey through the beginnings of Chavez’s organizing of farmworkers in the California fields, including coalition building with Filipino farmworkers, the founding of the United Farm Workers,  and on through the five-year boycott of grape growing companies. The film portrays Chavez, as he was, rather than as some superhero–always humble, always working, and always risking, yet flawed like anyone else.

Michael Peña gives a strong performance as the title character, as does America Ferrera as Chavez’s wife, Helen. While Chavez is portrayed as the leader, it is Helen, among others, who are portrayed as the foundation on which Chavez stood up against the growers. Overall, it was a good ensemble, with good performances by John Malkovich, Jacob Vargas, Yancey Arias, and, of course, Rosario Dawson. Much credit should go to Luna for some good attempts at recreating important aspects of the movement.

What was not recreated was actual film of Ronald Reagan, governor of California at the time, doing his part to break the strike through a public relations campaign which included calling the strikers “immoral” and eating grapes while being filmed by news outlets. I still don’t understand that 80s “Decade of the Hispanic” bull that was promoted by the Reaganites. The devil is always the devil.

As much as the film is about Chavez, some strong political statements are made about those in charge at the time who would want to destroy the farmworker movement. Also given his due on the positive side is Bobby Kennedy.

The film also lightly covers a topic some use to darken the legacy of Cesar Chavez–his feelings toward undocumented labor. Low-wage immigrant workers who weren’t demanding worker rights back then were easy to exploit and industries of today have learned much from farmers and growers of that time. Chavez was fighting to protect all workers at the time, which made him an easy target in the right-wing “divide and conquer” strategy.

 

Unfortunately, the film said little about the fact that these movements still continue today. While  some actual Chavez footage at the end of the film is utilized in which he speaks to the plight of the poor, a strong message could have been delivered that these struggles still continue in the form of health care reform, minimum wage increases, college for everyone, etc. We are left to figure it out on our own, or, perhaps that was the intent.

Then again, I’m not Diego Luna working on deadlines and a time frame in which to make a biography as sincere as possible. There will be criticism from activists who were there or folks wanting more, but the bottom line, there is only so much one can put into a movie before it loses an audience. The actual story is saved for textbooks and biographies. Otherwise, I truly enjoyed the film.

Chavez also serves as a reminder that this stuff isn’t being taught to our K-12 kids here in Texas, along with other aspects of Mexican American Studies.

The Texas State Board of Education is set to vote in early April on including Mexican American Studies in the state curriculum. Unfortunately, those who are iffy or possibly against the proposal are all Republicans and at least three more are needed to pass the proposal. Let’s give them a call and ask them to support Mexican American Studies at their next meeting on April 9.

At least one Republican on the SBOE, however, appears to support the idea. Vice chairman Thomas Ratliff told The Texas Tribune in February: “Some of [the board members] are trying to say that they don’t want to start creating a whole bunch of other studies for every other ethnic group. I don’t understand that concern because there aren’t any other ethnic groups that make up a significant portion of the state’s population like the Hispanics do.”

Houston: Call Donna Bahorich at 832.303.9091
Woodlands: Call Barbara Cargill at 512.463.9007
San Antonio: Call Ken Mercer at 512.463.9007
Ft. Worth: Call Patricia Hardy at 817.598.2968
Dallas: Call Geraldine Miller at 972.419.4000 or qtince@aol.com
Waco: Call Sue Melton-Melone at 254.749.0415 or smelton51@gmail.com
Amarillo: Call Marty Rowley at 806.373.6278 or  martyforeducation@gmail.com

General e-mails in support of the proposal may also be sent to:  sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us

 

 

 

Deportation Realities: Acquitted Dad Set to Surrender to ICE

UPDATE FROM FIEL:  Mr Moreno was granted a thirty day stay while they make a decision in his case! He was not detained though! Your signatures work SEE! We will update you all as the case moves along stay tuned!!! THANK YOU!

Guillermo Moreno has lived in the United States for over twenty years. Though undocumented, he has been his family’s breadwinner providing for two citizen children and one DACA beneficiary child. He is also a new granddad. In 2008, though, his quiet life in America began to crumble.

In 2008, he was arrested under suspicion of DWI. Although found not guilty of the charges, the wheels of the current deportation machine had already started to turn. ICE determined Guillermo did not qualify for immediate relief and ordered his deportation.

Local immigrant advocacy organization, FIEL, started a petition in support of Guillermo and his family.

Guillermo is not a threat to national security since he has not committed any violent offenses.  We are calling on ICE to grant him a stay of deportation to let him stay in the country and take care of his family  We have launched an online petition on his behalf and are preparing with his legal team to interject to stop his deportation.

Deporting this head of a family will take a psychological and economic toll on the family. Moreover, it just seems like the wrong thing to do considering President Obama and ICE have explicitly stated that their deportation policies target criminals. In the case of Guillermo Moreno, even a court of law has determined he was not guilty, yet, the only reason he is in this predicament is because of unfair immigration regulations which are unevenly enforced.

Guillermo will be turning himself into ICE (126 Northpoint, 77060) at 9AM on Tuesday, March 25, and FIEL, his family, community leaders and advocates will be there to provide support to his family.

Sign the petition–send a message to ICE. Stop this deportation!

LA Times: DHS Considering Options on Deportation

Obviously, Friday was a slow news day, so, when this story came out in the afternoon, it was obvious that it wasn’t meant to be a major news event. As cynical as I’ve become with the Administration, I usually look to organizations like Presente.org to gauge their level of excitement on any moves by the President or his people. Despite what may seem like good news, it is still obvious that deportations must stop.

As far as the two changes go:

The first change would ease or stop deportations of foreigners who have no criminal convictions other than immigration violations. If approved, deportation efforts would chiefly target people who have been charged or convicted in court and pose a potential threat to public safety.

and

Another change under consideration would scale back a controversial program known as Secure Communities. It allows immigration authorities to request that immigrants in the country illegally be held in local jails until they can be transferred to federal facilities for deportation.

The proposed change would limit those local detentions and focus only on people with criminal records.

As I have mentioned previously, any major changes would have to take into consideration how local law enforcement would be affected. Obviously, less work at warehousing immigrants should be considered a good thing, and having more local cops on the street should help fight crime. It’s a no-brainer.

Politically, though, some law enforcement agency leaders wouldn’t want to get rid of Secure Communities all that easily since it serves as a political crutch. Lately, it’s been a crutch for Democratic sheriffs like in Travis County. Some activists would say locally, too.

Let’s hope the Obama Administration wants to move forward to stop deportations, since the Republicans are intent on stopping any kind of real reform of the citizenship and visa system.

I’m of the opinion that these kind of administrative changes will prod the Republicans into doing one of two things:  A change of course on reform, or a whole new course of bat-shit craziness.

Let’s see what happens.

2,000,000 Deportations Later, A Review

The AP is reporting that President Obama had called on the Department of Homeland Security to do a review of current deportation practices to see whether enforcement can be more humane.

In a meeting with Latino lawmakers, Obama said he was deeply concerned about the pain that families feel when they are separated because of a broken U.S. immigration system. He told the lawmakers he’s asking Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to perform an inventory of current practices “to see how it can conduct enforcement more humanely within the confines of the law,” the White House said in a statement.

I don’t know, if there was that much concern about the pain of family separation, President Obama should at the very least cease deportations during the review. Of course, others would ask, “Now, he’s concerned?”

While this may appease the Hispanic caucus members, the people most affected by this will certainly continue to speak up for deportation reform.

Meanwhile, I’m sure the Republicans will continue spewing venom, using terms, such as “backdoor amnesty” and “weak on border security” among other right-wing favorites.

Stay tuned. I sure will be.

Update:  The Immigration Policy Center provides some data on 2013 deportations.  The report states that most deportees were a threat to no one.

New Tactic on CIR; Same Old Stuff from GOP

dreamIn the middle of primary election morning, it was reported that NCLR’s  Janet Murguia had changed her mind about President Obama, calling him “deporter in chief.” As I mentioned in a Facebook post, I figured she would lose White House dinner privileges–or at least be forced to enter through the kitchen, since she was so supportive of President Obama’s stance and pushed for the badly flawed Gang of 8 bill, S. 744.

Then Congressman Luis Gutierrez was up speaking on the floor of the House, using the same “deporter-in-chief” line. Later, I saw that Gang of 8 member Dick Durbin was now singing the same song on deportation. And even Chuck Schumer, who has supported the private prison expansion to warehouse immigrants, is suddenlly speaking up. What the heck is going on?

A lot of pro-migrant folks who had been pushing President Obama on stopping deportations were not all sold on the Gang of 8 bill, but were surprised, yet supportive, that Murguia had appeared to switch course. Me, not so much.

The thing is, Durbin, Gutierrez, Schumer, and Murguia have all been part of the  push to sell S. 744. Met with a direct “NO!” from the Republicans in the House, the frustrations of all involved have reached their limits, no doubt. But, still, they continue to push Boehner and the GOPers to no avail, and still push. But it is President Obama who they are also pushing to curb deportations–and now.

The Republicans, though, made a mistake. They called out President Obama as being weak on “enforcing immigration law.” Well, they seemed to have walked right into something. Pro-migrant supporters can now utilize the whole “deporter-in-chief” line as a means of proving the Republicans wrong because the bottom line is that the Republicans are wrong. President Obama is the deporter-in-chief who holds the keys to the deportation buses that have deported almost 2,000,000 people. Sure, Boehner and his Republicans re-fuel those buses, but they have made it quite clear that 2 million is not enough. If anything, they won’t be happy until 50 million are deported–including Latino-American citizens.

Today, House Republicans supported a measure that would virtually end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which has benefited over 500,000 applicants, all because President Obama signed the executive order.

House Republicans said passing the bill was necessary because the president had shown an unwillingness to enforce the law and a desire to go around Congress,including through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy.

Senate leader Harry Reid (D-NEV) said that that the bill is “dead on arrival.”

Blame Obama for his deportation program or not, it is pretty obvious where the Republicans stand on immigration reform or deportation programs. If anything should help those who support immigration reform make a decision on Election Day, it is this.

In the mean time, it is time for President Obama to end his deportation program with his pen and his phone.

For the latest polling on deportations, click here.

Boycotting Buc-ees

I guess there’s a movement going on now that Congressman Joaquin Castro made it known that Buc-ees is no longer on his list of stopping points on the way to anywhere in Texas.

I can’t blame him. When a lovable looking beaver is pictured with the guy who gets off on dehumanizing immigrants, well, there’s no doubt that those big white beaver teeth are now tainted with the hatred of Dan Patrick and other like-minded bigots.

The Buc-ees corporation is quick to point out that the owners are the Patrick endorsers and not the corporation itself. I guess, in this case, corporations aren’t people? Anyway…

[Update:  If the corporation isn't supporting him, how does the use of the beaver not say "corporate endorsement"?]

The bottom line is that when the Texas Farm Bureau has something to say in defense of agricultural workers who are usually undocumented, then it is safe to say that Dan Patrick is way off the mark on this issue; and, if anything, he isn’t really supportive of Texas agriculture.

Kudos to the Congressman for standing up against the immigrant bashers. And kudos to all those other Texas elected officials who have joined the chorus, too.