A Wish for World Peace ~ Paz Mundial by Johnny Hernandez

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Exclusive: DC Responds to POTUS Immigration Speech

My initial reaction.

Really?

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

Excellent intro video from the Texas Democratic Convention.

TX Dems Push Immigration Plank Nothing Like GOPs

Immigration, refugees, and border issues have been a lead story these last couple of weeks. No doubt, the Republicans have done their best to vilify hard-working people and children escaping poverty and violence in their home countries through frivolous hearings aimed at blaming Obama and DREAMers. There’s been enough panic caused by the GOP while few solutions have been offered by a Republican House. Of course, this is also the one-year anniversary of the US Senate’s passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill which basically died because the Republican House didn’t even care and chose to play politics designed to keep things as is.

On Friday in Texas, Democrats were sounding off against Republican attitudes on immigration reform at the Texas Democratic Convention. Democratic activists are set to vote on their (our?) Party platform and, as usual, the immigration plank stands to be much different than what the Republicans offered up at their convention, as reported by the Chron.

“The other side, they don’t offer any solutions,” state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, the Democrats’ nominee for lieutenant governor, told the Tejano Democrats caucus as the party’s biennial convention opened here. “They disrespect our past. … The only thing they can do is insult us.”

[...]

“We are very supportive of a path to citizenship because there are people who are here and are very productive and have committed no crime and are adding to our economy,” said state Rep. Garnet Coleman, chairman of the party’s platform committee. “We are not for a guest-worker program, because that can become a form of indentured servitude.”

On the recent growing influx of Central American children escaping violence and poverty, Democrat for Governor Wendy Davis offered a clearer assessment of the situation with a commitment to ensuring the refugee children are cared for.

“Every human being has to be looked at on a case-by-case basis,” Davis told the Houston Chronicle before speaking to the black caucus. “I know at the federal level there is an attempt being made to assure that repatriation will be safe, but unless and until that’s the case, as humans we need to care for these kids.”

As I will continue to state, the refugee issue is complex, as is the process by which their individual cases are decided. Ultimately. the problem is systemic–a broken immigration system that often ignores refugee situations. Again, this situation has been building up since the Bush 2 administration. Texas Democrats can do better by proudly exhibiting the stark differences between them and the Tea Party with our candidates backing up that platform wholeheartedly.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to the final Democratic plank on immigration reform. Hopefully, an FODC (Friend of Dos Centavos) will post it or e-mail it to me.

 

DC Reviews: Gary Hobbs ~ Live From New West

Still riding high after over 30 years on the road, Tejano crooner Gary Hobbs, offers his fans a live album recorded at Dallas’ New West Night Club.

Full of hits from the 90s heyday of Tejano music, these remain on his nightly playlist. Hobbs hasn’t lost that golden voice and always has good musicians to back him up.

ghobbsThe CD kicks off with recent hit, Por Ti, and includes some acordeon-heavy tunes, like Tres Rosas and Buscando Un Amor. Gary Hobbs loyalists will never forget Las Miradas, Amame y Besame, Maldito Amor, and Vas A Pagar. Hobbs adds three memorable cumbias with Te Vas A AcordarPor Favor Corazon and Chiquitita, Chiquitita, which have always been fan favorites.

Thrown in from the 80s was one of my personal favorites, Diferentes.

Hobbs has remained a tried and true Tejano music ambassador, always staying true to the genre and taking it across the country. No doubt he’ll keep fighting to keep Tejano music alive and kicking.

This is definitely a collector’s item for loyal Gary Hobbs fans. Personally, I’ve been a fan since the early 80s. I’m willing to admit that at one time, I owned the 45 rpm of Contigo Aprendi when the band was called Brando Mireles and the Hot Sauce Band featuring Gary Hobbs. But that’s for another blog post.

Get yours today! It’s even on iTunes!

 

 

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.

Operation Change Debuts on OWN, Monday 6/23/14

Operation Change, a documentary series featuring, among others,  local social entrepreneur Carlos Paz, Jr., debuts on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) at 9 pm on Monday, June 23. Learn more about Operation Change here.

The series follows Starkey Hearing Foundation co-founders Bill & Tani Austin, their son Steven Sawalich, two volunteers Carlos Paz, Jr. and Snejana Daily, as they team up with other organizations to work on sustainable projects that will profoundly affect each community.

I’ve always seen Carlos as a busy guy–very involved in the community–but this particular project has global implications and benefits. The trailer itself will draw one into this 10-part series and hopefully set one on a course to make any corner of the world a better place.

I was unable to attend the pre-screening held this past Friday, but I do want to congratulate Carlos and all those involved in these project. Although it’s important to create change, it is equally important to be a motivator of change agents and I think this series will serve as such. Check it out on 6/23 at 9 pm. The trailer:

 

 

Obama: I’ll See Your Surge

While the Republicans in DC are talking and talking and talking about immigration, it is President Obama who has called for a border surge. I guess he didn’t want to get outdone by Rick Perry’s $1.3 million per week surge. But this whole game of “quien es mas anti-immigrant” is enough to make one ill–and quite cynical about the offerings of both political parties. The “surge” part is mostly about judges to speed up deportations, since the Border Patrol seems to be catching all these kids; although, Republicans blame Obama’s DACA for the surge, which is a bunch of BS, but great stuff for the TV talking heads.

As children from Central America keep pouring across the nation’s southwest border, the Obama administration announced Friday that it will respond with a “surge” of immigration judges and U.S. attorneys to speed up the deportation of some undocumented immigrants.

The other part of the “surge,” basically, has the President throwing money to Central American countries considered “friendly,” yet whose problems have long been simmering and cause for the influx of these Central American children.

• A $9.6 million grant to the governments of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to build and improve their “repatriation centers,” where deported immigrants are received after they’ve been flown back home.

• The creation of a $40 million program run by the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, to improve citizen security in Guatemala. Administration officials say the violence in Central America is one of the main reasons so many kids are racing to the U.S.

• A new $25 million USAID program to curb violence in El Salvador.

• An $18.5 million grant to Honduras to help community policing and gang-prevention programs there.

That first dot means that kids and their parents will be deported. The grant programs mean that as long as these countries’ leaders stay in place and do as told by the U.S., they’ll keep getting these dollars. Or, at least that’s how “aid” money is usually doled out. How effective this cash will be is up in the air, obviously.

Elise Foley at HuffPost has more information on the “surge,” which includes opening more “family” prisons, like that God-awful one in Taylor, TX.

Family detention of undocumented immigrants was widely criticized when it was used more commonly. The T. Don Hutto facility in Texas hosted families and wasdescribed in 2007 as prison-like, with few services like education or recreation for children. The government announced in 2009 that families will no longer be housed there.

Immigrant advocates argue that the government should not detain families, and instead should use alternatives to detention, until their deportation cases are settled.

“It’s a real step backwards for immigration policy,” said Bob Libal, the executive director of Grassroots Leadership, which advocates for alternatives to detention. “Detention should always be used as a last option … the harm that comes from children from being detained is well-documented, and if we don’t have to do this, we shouldn’t be doing it.”

Just because Dubya Bush isn’t running ICE doesn’t make these new concentration camps, I mean “family” centers, kinder and gentler.

It is safe to say that as we move toward November, 2014, both political parties are in a political crisis when it comes to immigration reform and Latin American affairs. It doesn’t help for 2016, either.