Category Archives: Texas Lege

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.

 

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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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introducing…Leticia Van de Putte for Lt. Gov. [VIDEO]

Excellent intro video from the Texas Democratic Convention.

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.

 

 

 

Wendy Davis Calls for Focus on Human Crisis at Border

State Senator Wendy Davis waded through the political muck and came out with a great idea:  A special legislative session that will focus on the human crisis on the border. Davis sent a letter to Rick Perry outlining various things.

Davis agreed with Rick Perry’s move to spend millions on state cops on the border which she states would help federal forces (Border Patrol) with law enforcement duties against drug and human traffickers, etc. DosCentavos does not agree with the militarization of South Texas and neither should Davis. But that the state must also do something about the human crisis.

Davis said declaring a state of emergency “will provide communities with the essential resources, supplies, emergency services and facilities they need without further delay.

Just as we help communities in the aftermath of wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes and other disasters, we can and should help our border communities during this crisis.”

She said a special session is needed to hear from city and county officials and others on the challenges they face and to approve emergency spending to help local agencies.

Throwing more money at border law enforcement, though, needs to be kept under a microscope. Will it go to brand new vehicles and homeland security toys, or will it be used for humanitarian purposes? After years under Rick Perry, I fear the same ol’ waste of free money for political purposes. Which is why a special session on the matter would be useful IF (big IF) political people have the political will to ask the right questions, rather than showboat.

But I will admit, this is one of the better notions to come out of this in the last couple of weeks:  Respond to a humanitarian crisis with some humanity.

Texas Republicans Declare War on Central American Kids

Rick Perry and his lot have been funneling money to the DPS for “border” purposes for a few years now. Never has the effectiveness of this tax money ever been questioned or even measured, but it has made for great political theater for the Republicans–and political ads filmed on something that looks like the border.

Now, Rick Perry and the Republicans have declared war on Central American kids who have been escaping their home countries for a safer locale. At the same time the Republicans call it a humanitarian crisis (which it is), they’re also doing their best to criminalize these kids who are escaping cartels, poverty, and even government threats.

Unfortunately, this influx of taxpayer cash to the DPS will not get a debate or a vote in a special session of the Texas Lege, as Dan Patrick had requested. Frankly, I was looking forward to film of right-wingers talking about Latinos, in general, not to mention diseases and made-up stories whose only purpose is creating fear. Of course, I expect Dan Patrick and other Republicans to make something up as they go.

The Democratic response thus far?

“What is needed are not more “boots on the ground” or any other euphemisms for the militarization that both impacts border residents’ daily lives and is inadequate to deal with the specific issue at hand,” state Sen. José Rodriguez, D-El Paso, said in a statement last week in response to Abbott’s request.

State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte added: “Washington must tackle the root causes of this crisis: weak governments, entrenched poverty and the growing power of violent criminal actors in Central America. Texans have a long tradition of looking after our neighbors in times of need. These too are children of God. State and federal government should follow suit, and partner with our faith-based organizations, nonprofits, food banks, and health providers to help these children.”

I wholeheartedly agree with both senators, but as I mentioned to a Facebook friend the other day, the only way to tackle root causes is for Washington to stop meddling in other countries’ affairs-political and economic. The influx of kids mostly comes from El Salvador, Honduras, Belize, and Guatemala; all countries whose governments are or have historically been supported by the U.S. because they elected whom the U.S. wanted (or placed in power by coup), as our friends at Latino Rebels remind us. The Central American Free Trade Agreement and meddling in these countries’ elections has certainly taken its toll to the point where cash-rich criminal enterprises easily yield power. And let’s not forget that some of these right-wing governments are quite oppressive, as well, particularly toward the poor. What do you think is the socioeconomic status of the kids coming over? So, if these governments are weak, we can definitely point to US Latin American policy as a root cause.

As things stand, there is a crisis and it’s growing. With 90,000 kids expected to come over and be apprehended by the end of 2014, facilities and manpower are already busting at the seams. As we heard recently, the Border Patrol was complaining about doing diaper duty and babysitting. If only the DPS dollars were for humanitarian aid, rather than a weak attempt at border militarization. Because all of this just seems to be another dose of Republican theater–$40 million worth of bad theater.

The Texas Civil Rights Project released this statement:

TCRP Director Jim Harrington today condemned Gov. Perry’s “typical militaristic response” to the humanitarian crisis along the border caused by the surge of 47,000 children into the country. “Perry shouldn’t make them pawns in his ongoing politically-driven antipathy toward the federal government,”said Harrington

Perry has announced plans to spend $1.3 million/week to send Texas law enforcement officers to enforce border security. He has not offered any assistance for the children who are already here or to local shelters that are struggling to house and care for them.

“Obviously, it’s important to protect the border; but it’s equally important to protect and provide for the thousands of children who are now in the country. Texas and the border states can come up with more creative ways to deal with the crisis and turning it around. It would be a better and more productive use of taxpayers’ money,” said Harrington. “We’re dealing with young children, not adults. This is not the children’s fault, and we have a humanitarian duty to them until we can figure out how to respond appropriately to the situation. They should not be victimized further by the situation into which they have been thrust by desperate parents.”

This is a good time for Rick Perry, Greg Abbott and the Republicans to do some praying, rather than preying.

 

Sending Money to VA? How About Leticia?

Just a friendly reminder that if the excitement over the defeat of Eric Cantor by a teabagger has you so ecstatic that you want to send cash to the Democrat in that VA-07 race, then balance it out and sent some cash to Leticia Van de Putte for Lt. Governor. Better yet, keep your money in Tejas!

More on Eric Cantor and immigration reform in another post.