Category Archives: Sensible Immigration Reform

The Jorge Ramos Thing

Ramos Crosses the Borderline

Talk about shock value!

Jorge Ramos did the unthinkable at a press conference:  He started asking questions without being recognized by the guy giving the press conference, thus, pushing the level of Trump assholability to all new highs. “Go back to Univision,” gave many of us flashbacks of being told by bigots to “Go back to Mexico.”

The shocker was that Trump had security escort Ramos out the door as Ramos became relentless and just wouldn’t wait his turn–if a turn was even going to happen. But I think the whole affair lost its shock-value when Ramos was let back in and allowed to ask all the questions he wanted only to get the same ol’ Trump answers. While Trump may have ultimately gotten his way, he went the route of pissing off an entire group of people…again!

For Latinos, mistreating a media icon like Jorge Ramos was the ultimate insult. Some think of Ramos as the “Latino Walter Kronkite,” while others think of him as just a good news-man who does what he does to get to some truths that people may not want to hear. Right-wing politicians (and perhaps President Obama at various points of his career) have probably thought of Ramos as annoyingly relentless, especially on the topic of immigration reform.

Three-quarters of Latinos are not supporting Trump, while a few self-haters love the guy. Ramos attempting more “gotcha” moments will probably not change those few mindless Latinos. But it made for great social media political drama.

For me, what bothered me the most was Trump’s ability to sound like his white supremacist supporters– “Go back…”

 

 

 

Poll: 25% of Latinos Are Clueless, Self-Hating Trump Supporters?

trumpinata

Credit: Lalo Alcaraz/GoComics

While the media is selling the latest poll of Latino thoughts on Donald Trump as “75% having a negative view.” I’m pretty concerned about a quarter of those polled being accepting of Trump’s message; not surprised, but concerned, as they could easily accept the usual GOP message on Latinos and immigrants. Given recent elections, they probably have accepted the GOP message.

More specifically, the poll found the following:

Asked to assess that comment (about immigrants being rapists and drug dealers), 55 percent of Latinos said that the remarks were “insulting and racist and have no place in a campaign for president.”

Another 29 percent said that “Trump should have been more careful with the language he used, but he is raising an important issue.” Fourteen percent said that “Trump had the guts to say exactly what was on his mind about an important problem we need to deal with.”

A huge majority also found that Trump is hurting the GOP’s image. I would ask, “More than usual?” Let’s face it, the GOP has a “nice” way of insulting Latinos and immigrants, which probably coincides with the 29% who felt Trump should have said it differently. Be nice, but we still won’t vote for you, might be the message.

Frankly, what the poll found is not surprising. That Democrats, throughout this Trump media frenzy, have simply pointed and blamed on the issue is disappointing. This is an opportunity to lead on immigration reform, deportation reform, and immigrant warehousing (detention)–and that goes for Bernie, too–along with the rest of the issues in which Latinos poll strongly progressive. Whether Dems will wake up to this is still yet to be seen, so, here’s another opportunity.

10 Mothers Lodge Complaint Against DHS Family Detention Centers

Credit: DMN

It is time to #endfamilydetention. Although a judge has condemned the deplorable conditions at these privately-run prisons and has called for the release of these families within the next ninety days, the Obama administration will more than likely appeal the decision and continue FDR’s tradition of warehousing immigrants.

Here’s the press release from American Immigration Council on the complaint.

From the Inbox:

Deplorable Medical Treatment at Family Detention Centers
Mothers Lodge Complaint with DHS Offices for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and Inspector General

July 30, 2015

Washington, DC — Today, ten mothers came forward to lodge formal complaints about the substandard medical care they and their children received while detained by the Department of Homeland of Security (DHS). The complaints describe the severe suffering families have endured due to poor access to and quality of care, and questionable medical ethics. These ten complaints are representative of the regular failures of DHS to provide adequate medical care for mothers and children in family detention facilities, and they add to the already ample evidence demonstrating why family detention must end.

The deplorable medical treatment described in the complaints include:

  • Wait times of up to 14 hours, in the direct sun, in order to be seen by medical staff;
  • A mother with two broken fingers denied medical care and advised to “drink more water”;
  • A mother with breast cancer repeatedly denied care despite suffering severe symptoms and weight loss;
  • More than 250 children given adult doses of the Hepatitis A vaccine;
  • Children left in the care of guards, sometimes for days at a time, when women are transferred off-site for emergency or specialized medical care;
  • Administration of intravenous fluids through a bent needle;
  • A five-year old repeatedly transferred off-site for medical care only to have on-site medical professionals later refuse to issue prescribed medication;
  • A family denied food and placed under enough stress to prompt a suicide attempt;
  • A child who was vomiting blood told only to drink water and not referred to external medical care until three days later.

The majority of the mothers with medical complaints have attempted to seek medical care on more than one occasion, only to find themselves waiting endlessly, sometimes in dangerously hot conditions in the extreme heat and sun common to southern Texas. In at least one instance, a woman who had to leave the medical line after waiting for hours was forced to sign a letter stating she refused medical care. Some mothers reported that their children had adverse reactions to their vaccinations, including temporary paralysis, vomiting, and high fevers.

One woman described her medical experience in Dilley saying, “Simply, they don’t care. What is more important for them is control. These are delicate situations when someone is sick and vulnerable. They just care about control. I thought I came to this country to escape abuse, mistreatment and disrespect. But it’s the same here.”

The complaints were submitted to the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and the Office of Inspector General (OIG) on behalf of the women by the American Immigration Council (“Council”), American Immigration Lawyers Association (“AILA”), Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (“CLINIC”), Immigrant Justice Corps, Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (“RAICES”), and the Women’s Refugee Commission (“WRC”).

These six organizations urge both CRCL and OIG to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation into these examples immediately and to take swift action to fully address the systemic problems highlighted by these cases. Advocates have heard from women about many more medical care problems, including 74 additional instances at the facility in Dilley, Texas alone, since June 2015. The medical abuses highlight the urgent need to #EndFamilyDetention.

Obama’s Newest Deportation Program Slammed by Civil Rights Groups

Many of us have been waiting for the first assessments of President Obama’s “Priority Enforcement Program.” Would it be an actual new program, or just a re-branding of Secure Communities? I’ll let this press release  from the National Day Labor Organizing Network explain:

Civil Rights Organizations Slam DHS’ Latest Deportation Program; Call on DHS to Discontinue Use of Unlawful Detention Requests

Replacement for Discredited “Secure Communities” Program Suffers From Serious Legal Flaws that Expose DHS and Cooperating Law Enforcement Agencies to Liability

Wednesday, June 16, 2015—In response to new details released on Friday about DHS’s “Priority Enforcement Program” (PEP), prominent civil and immigrants’ rights organizations today delivered a letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) calling for an end to detention (“detainer”) and notification requests. The letter asserts that PEP—created as a replacement for the controversial Secure Communities program— suffers from many of the same legal problems that contributed to the agency’s decision to end the Secure Communities. As a result, local law enforcement agencies that choose to participate may face liability.

In the letter, the organizations call on DHS to discontinue the use of “immigration detainers,” which ask local law enforcement agencies to detain individuals in their custody after their authority to hold them expires. After a series of federal court decisions last year holding that immigration detainers fail to comply with the Fourth Amendment, hundreds of local law enforcement agencies across the country adopted policies prohibiting compliance with immigration detainers absent a judicial warrant or judicial determination of probable cause. DHS still does not provide a judicial determination of probable cause either before or after issuing an immigration detainer, in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Jessica Karp Bansal, NDLON Litigation Director, said, “When DHS first announced PEP back in November, it acknowledged the need for reform in light of federal court decisions holding that immigration detainers do not provide a lawful basis to detain a person. So we were surprised to learn that DHS plans to continue issuing detainers through PEP that don’t comport with constitutional requirements. PEP creates a trap for unwary local law enforcement agencies, which will be subject to legal liability should they choose to participate.”

In addition to legal concerns, the letter also criticizes PEP as contravening the recent recommendation from the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing to “decouple” federal immigration enforcement from local policing.

Said Salvador Sarmiento, NDLON Legislative Director, “PEP is completely out of step with the national conversation on the need for policing and criminal justice reform. We question why DHS is continuing to entangle local police in immigration enforcement when the President’s own Task Force on 21st Century Policing recommended against doing so. The result will be the same kind of deterioration of police-community trust that we saw with Secure Communities.”

DHS responded to the widespread criticism of the Secure Communities program in November with plans to discontinue it; however, ICE’s new PEP forms and informational material, released last Friday, suggest PEP is little more than a re-branding of the same flawed product.

The letter and more info on PEP available at: www.ndlon.org/en/pressroom/press-releases/item/1148-release-civil-rts-groups-slam-latest-dhs-deportation-program-demand-dhs-discontinue-unlawful-detention-requests

More Border Surge Realities

ef6ca-shrp2Lisa Falkenberg at the Chron offered up even more strong evidence regarding the lack of a need for Rick Perry’s Border Surge. Long story short:  The image provided by Rick Perry and other politicians about violence on the border doesn’t match up to crime stats.

The statistics also inject hard numbers into a debate that has been raging since a spike in unaccompanied children crossing the border captivated public attention last spring. The spike started subsiding before the surge and continued to trend downward, leading Republicans and Democrats to argue about the role the extra troops played.

Republicans also have said the surge was needed to combat crime brought by foreign gangs and drugs, while Democrats have questioned the value of the more than $100 million price tag for a region they described as safe.

State officials have largely used anecdotes to illustrate how the surge has succeeded in combating organized crime. A classified report to lawmakers obtained by the Chronicle in February listed examples of encounters with cartel members, immigrant “stash houses” and more, but it lacked detailed data.

The numbers DPS has released have mixed state efforts with federal and local law enforcement and concerned illegal immigrant apprehensions, drug seizures and interactions with gang members, which do not speak to overall crime rates.

Surely, the waste of tax dollars at the hands of Republicans should speak volumes as to future political implications, whether they affect Rick Perry’s presidential bid, or the future of Abbott, Patrick, and the rest of these alarmist Republicans who will blame immigrants for just about any problem caused by Republicans. Unfortunately, when top-of-the-ballot Democrats attempt (miserably) to co-opt the issue for their own political gain, it’s hard to participate in the usual point-and-blame game Dems usually play against Republicans.

Of course, there are those Dems who seem to do it correctly.

“DPS has been unwilling to release this information, and now we know why,” said state Rep. Armando Walle, D-Houston. “These numbers show that what our Republican leaders have been telling us has not been true.”

Of course, we need solutions; in this case, to stop the waste of our tax dollars on political war games that make for great campaign photo ops. Unfortunately, that takes ejecting the current people in positions of power. It is said that voting matters, but it takes strong, progressive-minded politicians who are willing to fight for what is right to earn those votes.

Obama Talks Tequila, Immigration; Clinton Talks GOPs 2nd Class Status Position

Well, my friends at Latino Rebels are none too happy about the Cinco de Mayo shindig thrown by El Prez at the Casa Blanca today. They went so far as calling it Cinco de Fallo.

After celebrating Mexicans and Mexican Americans, President Obama made the usual call for comprehensive immigration reform–which version, it is not known. Within 5 minutes and change, he mentioned Tequila five times.

Wait, 5 minutes, 5 tequilas, 5 de Mayo–I see a pattern! That speechwriter is a genius! [snark]

Anyway, moving on.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is being credited with an aggressive speech on immigration reform. What I heard was the usual call for comprehensive immigration reform which includes a path to citizenship. So, the usual.

What may be the aggressive part was Clinton making a distinction between what she and Democrats want (citizenship) and what Republicans want (legal status).

“Now this is where I differ with everybody on the Republican side,” she said. “Make no mistakes. Today not a single Republican candidate – announced or potential – is clearly and consistently supporting a path to citizenship. Not one.”

“When they talk about ‘legal status’ that is code for second-class status,” she added.

She added that her time as Secretary of State showed her the difference of countries that include “second-class status.”

“They never feel they belong or have allegiance…that is a recipe for divisiveness and even disintegration… we are a nation of immigrants,” she said. “Those who say, we can do reform but not a path to citizenship, would be fundamentally undermining what has made American unique… not just in my view the right thing to do for America, if you compare us to other countries.”

And while she said she was unsure if it would be among her first moves if elected president, she did say it would be a priority.

And that’s probably the smartest political move she can make–no promises of first term/first year action like the aforementioned current Prez. But with Obama’s executive actions in place (hopefully) that would be a starting point that includes some deportation relief.

Clinton also seemed to deviate from her position from last summer about warehousing and deporting little kids. Maybe.

“I don’t think we should put children and vulnerable people into the detention facilities because I think they are at risk—their physical and mental health are at risk,” she said.

I don’t know if that means immediate deportation or what. Or if kids get to stay with moms and families outside of prison walls. We shall see how this develops.

Obviously, the issue is very complex and working with Republicans who offer a “status” that some may be willing to accept in order to avoid a prison cell and a bus ride to the border (even if it is second class status) will make the debate a lot more interesting–or, the same old debate.

And that’s today’s immigration news.

Hillary Clinton Didn’t Say Anything about Mass Immigrant Incarceration

Hillary-Send-Them-Back-ClintonHillary Clinton was being embraced by her supporters today for her speech on law enforcement and incarceration reforms. But missing from this puzzle was the piece that explains billions of dollars wasted and thousands of lives affected–immigrant incarceration.

It’s no secret that there is much waste in the form of immigrant-hunting in this country. Policies that federalize local cops to participate in immigrant hunting, incarceration, and deportation have been given steroids by the Obama Administration, while Republicans ask for more. . Republican-led state legislatures threaten “show me your papers” and racial profiling laws while awful policies are already in place. These policies have increased the distrust that immigrants and Latinos have of the police

When the media- and politically-driven hysteria about thousands of Central American children and women escaping violence and poverty came about, Hillary Clinton was among those calling for their immediate deportation after they’ve spent the whole time in inhumane private immigrant prisons–no opportunity for release or legal assistance.

So, when Clinton didn’t include this boondoggle that affects families and that has needlessly locked up and deported innocent working people with little-to-no record, and let’s not forget, little kids, it was very noticeable. Perhaps not to her hard-core fans and supporters who are proud apologists for her and the Obama administration, but I certainly noticed it.

It shouldn’t be this easy to ignore the obvious as a presidential candidate with little to no opposition (apologies to Bernie). If we are to have a conversation about police and incarceration reform, then it must include immigrant incarceration and deportation reform. Treatment of immigrants in these private prisons is just about as bad as cops killing people of color on the streets. Clinton and all candidates cannot pretend it doesn’t exist.

Anti-Latino Bills Move Forward in Texas Senate

Credit: Denver Post (Click to Enlarge)

I think this is the most unsurprising news of the week. A Texas Senate subcommittee on “border security” moved two bills forward that would, (1) Legalize racial profiling of Latinos for immigration purposes, and (2) Stop in-state tuition rates for immigrant students whose families have more than established residency in Texas. Both bills move on to a full committee. Of course, all of this happened after dozens of students and advocates testified against both bills versus a few who spoke in favor.

While Republicans call these bills changes in policy, the targeted nature of these bills says a lot more. Anti-Latino attitudes by Republicans have once again come up to the surface and more lies are spread about the community. Some will call it fear, I’ll call it downright bigoted policy-making for their own political purposes.

Then there are those who will say that Latinos need to vote in larger numbers. I don’t disagree, but the caveat is that Democrats need to do a better job of defending Latinos and immigrants, instead of playing to right-wing voters by talking anti-immigrant nonsense with some delusion that they will earn their votes. Frankly, these attempts at “centrism” remind me of Rahm Emanuel working with racist Tom Tancredo on immigration reform.

Whether Republicans will come to their senses and kill these bills is still up in the air. Obviously, there’s a race against the legislative clock. How hard they work for these nonsense bills versus bills of dire importance will further show us what they are really about.

Update:  Earlier today, this post caught my attention. In other words, SB1819 (in-state tuition ban) can be beaten. It’s time to deluge Republican senators with phone calls telling them to vote NO on SB1819 if it reaches the Senate floor.

UPDATE:  Both bills (sb185 and sb1819) were approved by the full committee and will be sent to the full Texas Senate.

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.