Category Archives: Sensible Immigration Reform

National Guard Goes Hungry on the Border?

At least that’s what was first reported at Harlingen’s, Action News 4 last night, and has now made national news.

“We were contacted that 50 troops that are in the Valley don’t have any money for food and gas and they need our assistance,” said Food Bank RGV Executive Director Terri Drefke.

They’ve turned to the Food Bank RGV for help since they won’t get paid until September 5th and have been in the Valley since August 11th.

Drefke told Action 4 News they are more than ready and willing to assist the military personnel.

“We have fresh, boxed, and frozen food available” Drefke said.

Let’s face it, Rick Perry and the Republicans put on a show for their right-wing followers with this call-up of the Guard, ratcheting up fear and hate on account of Central American children escaping violence in their home countries. Perry, though, finally did respond.

First, the suggestion that Guardsmen aren’t getting paid is false. They are getting paid on a regular schedule with their first pay day on Sept. 5, then every two weeks after that.

And here I thought a military exercise came with government-provided rations. Hell, at least some Texas IOU’s with Rick Perry’s mugshot, right?

And frankly,  one has to wonder what exactly the millions of dollars that Rick Perry and the Republicans are willing to waste is actually being spent on. That Perry’s attempted boondoggle didn’t include GOP-leaning taco joints to feed the men has left me thinking that he just can’t execute a military plan. That doesn’t look good for a Presidential candidate.

Leticia Van de Putte, the Democrat running for Lt. Gov., had the best response.

The Perry – Patrick deployment of the Guard has been nothing but a political ploy: there is no request from local leaders for this mission, no exit strategy, or even a plan to pay for it. Today, we learn that our men and women of the Guard have been forced to contact food banks to feed themselves because they haven’t been paid in weeks. This is unacceptable.

This whole debacle reminds me of when my family would go on full-day shopping excursions to Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley. Mom and Dad would pack sandwiches, boiled eggs, tacos, sodas, thermoses of coffee–it was definitely a money-saver. One would think since Rick Perry and the Republicans say we should run government like parents run their family budgets that he would have packed some food for the troops.

UPDATE:  The National Guard Responds

According to spokeswoman Lt. Col. Joanne MacGregor, a “proactive” family assistance coordinator “contacted the Rio Grande Valley food bank to see what resources were potentially available.”

The Guard said it had identified 50 service members who, because of their early August start date, weren’t going to be paid until Sept. 5.

None of those 50 troops have notified leaders that they had used the food bank, officials said.

According to the Guard, troops receive one meal while on duty, plus a $32 per diem food reimbursement that is included in their paychecks.

According to Omar Ramirez, Food Bank RGV’s manager of communications and advocacy, the food bank made extra preparations after being contacted by someone from the Texas National Guard Support Foundation, but that he wasn’t aware of any troops being served.

“Maybe they come in and they just don’t tell us they’re National Guard,” he said.

So, someone not affiliated with Rick Perry or the Guard was thinking ahead?

Whatever, the Guard shouldn’t be there in the first place!

 

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AUG 23 ~ March For Children – Houston

Spread the word! Click to enlarge and print.

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HD-132 Candidate Luis Lopez Visits the RGV

Candidate for Texas House District 132 (Katy-Houston area), Luis Lopez, is visiting the Rio Grande Valley today seeking facts and information from local law enforcement about the so-called “border crisis.”

On his way to the RGV last night, Lopez Facebook’d the following:

Unaccompanied minor. That was me. I arrived here with a coyote in order to reunite with my family. Today I reflect on it more than ever.

Tomorrow I will visit unaccompanied minors whose parents had the same dreams as mine – to give their children an opportunity for a better life.

Every challenge is an opportunity for leadership to make decisions that will save, shape and stand up for the future of these children.

You are not unaccompanied.

Today, Lopez visited Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Garza and he quotes the Sheriff:

Informative meeting with the sheriff of Hidalgo county. “The crime rate in our community has not increased, we are one of the safest counties in Texas. The National Guard will not benefit our cause. What we, sheriffs of border counties, need is better funding so that we can expand our effective efforts.”

The positive energy to support the unaccompanied minors in the county is amazing.

Obviously, this issue hits close to Lopez’s heart, having experienced what some of these child refugees have experienced. While his Tea Party opponent has been sounding the “secure the border” alarm, Luis Lopez has been seeking out the truth about the border, the child refugees, and solutions to move Texas forward regarding public safety, education, and health care for all Texans.

I’m glad Luis Lopez is in our corner. Visit his Facebook page and stay tuned for more reports from Luis Lopez.

 

Cowardly Republican Series: Runnin’ Rand Speaks!

Apparently, Rand Paul is a bit butt-hurt over being caught on video running from DREAMers in Iowa. Activist Erika Andiola and a colleague went up to Steve King, who once compared DREAMers to drug mules with large calves, while he was munching on a burger with Rand Paul. As soon as Erika stated she was a DREAMer, one sees Paul’s aide signal him and they both walk away.

King stuck around and debated Andiola about “the rule of law” and even complimented her English speaking abilities–considering she was raised in the US, that’s a big DUH for King. Anyway, all sorts of blogs and mainstream media have spent the day poking fun at Runnin’ Rand.

Today, Runnin’ Rand responded:

“I’ll be honest with ya, I’m not interested in being filmed and berated by people who broke the law and are here illegally to try and convince me about policy”…”But I’ll tell you I have sympathy for the DREAM Act kids. I’m actually a moderate on immigration.”

So, these kids are OK as long as they know their place?

Well, that’s nothing new coming from a Republican. Of course, there’s no DREAM Act to speak of to be calling these kids “DREAM Act kids.” They’re DREAMers and because every single Republican voted against it (and 5 blue dog Dems) in 2010, they’re only “DACAmented.”

Still, Republicans making fools of themselves on immigration is nothing new, whether they compliment ones English or run away from them or send the National Guard after a bunch of 7 year-olds. The ball is still in President Obama’s court.

Cowardly Republican Series: Rand Runs Off!

And Steve King is a wrist-grabbin’ bigot.

Just watch!

Cowardly Republicans Vote Against DREAMers

Well, the Republicans did it–they crafted some political bills to attack child refugees and added a “supplemental” attack on the DREAMers who have qualified for DACA. Congressman Luis Gutierrez has one helluva response.

The Senate will not support it and the President has stated he would veto it if it did come to his desk. So, political theater? Pretty much.

I’ll say it again:  Mr. President, sign executive orders expanding DACA to families, stop your deportation machine, and provide lawyers for child refugees–at the very least!

UPDATE from FIEL:

FIEL STATEMENT: in the next couple of hours and days you will hear that the US house of Representatives has voted on a measure to stop DACA (Deferred Action). This doesn’t meant ANYTHING. AT THIS TIME THERE IS NO CHANGE TO THE DACA PROGRAM. PEOPLE CAN STILL APPLY AND RENEW. This is just the Republican Party playing political games trying to scare DREAMers and their families. If you all have any questions you can call our office or come by tomorrow: -FIEL
==================================
Anuncio de FIEL: En las proximas hora y dias estaran escuchando que la Casa de Representantes en los Estados Unidos voto en una medida para quitar la DACA (Accion Diferida) Esto no se ignifica NADA. EN ESTOS MOMENTOS NO HAY NINGUN CAMBIO AL PROGRAMA DE DACA. LA GENTE ELEGIBLE PUEDE SEGUIR APLICANDO Y RENOVANDO. Esto es solo un Juego del Partido Republicano para tratar de espantar a los DREAMers y sus familias. Si tienen alguna pregunta no duden en llamar a nuestras oficinas o venir a hacer sus preguntas. – FIEL

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

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.