Tag Archives: Congress

Congressman Vela Resigns From Hispanic Caucus, Cites Border Surge

Apparently, someone seems to care about the militarization of the Texas border. Congressman Filemon Vela of Brownsville tendered his resignation from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to protest the so-called “border surge” that became the only reason Senate Republicans supported the Gang of 8 bill.

The first-term Brownville Democrat announced his decision to resign in a short email over the weekend following overwhelming Senate approval of the enforcement-heavy legislation.

Vela said he was concerned that the bill conditions a pathway to citizenship for people living in the country illegally on militarization of the border, including additional hundreds of miles of border fence.

“I hereby resign,” Vela said.

Vela is not the only border representative who has shown this kind of concern.

Other Texas lawmakers, including Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, and Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, have criticized enforcement measures in the Senate bill as wasteful measures that could hinder trade.

One would figure that Democrats would listen to Mexican American representatives who actually represent the area which would be affected by the “surge.”

There’s no doubt that the immigration bill is in danger of dying on the House side, either by amendment or simply by it being ignored in favor of more punitive “border security” measures which do not include any path to citizenship. Vela’s lone voice is sure to rattle the CHC a bit, but unless more voices are heard each side of the debate will go about its respective business.

Nonetheless, this blogger is glad someone spoke up.

 

About these ads

Poll: Latinos Reject Border-First Approach to CIR

Latino Decisions and Presente.org just released the results of a poll that measures how Latinos are feeling about this latest attempt at immigration reform. Needless to say, they aren’t feeling the enforcement/border-first approach being pushed by the Republicans with little defense from the Democrats. Of course, in all of this, no one seems to be asking how Latinos, much less immigrants, feel about all of this, right? I’m glad Presente.org is doing it.

The survey of 500 Latino registered voters asked opinions on a wide range of specific policy measures that have been debated in Congress and finds overall that 81% of Latino voters reject the notion of “border-security-first” approach. Instead, Latinos prefer to see a path to citizenship unfold simultaneously with any border security measures.  Further, Latinos are firmly opposed to increased Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) crackdowns against immigrants.  When asked if ICE should be asked to increase the number of immigrants detained 73% of Latino voters said no. When asked if ICE should be asked to increase the frequency of workplace raids 66% of Latino voters said no. Full topline results are posted here

So, one has to think that Chuck Schumer is complicit in this whole border-first strategy, and an article in Politico speaks to the division among Senate Democrats that hasn’t really boiled over, yet.

Sen. Chuck Schumer’s pitch to find 70-plus votes for a sweeping immigration overhaul is running into skeptics from his own party – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Majority Whip Dick Durbin.

The top two Senate Democrats believe that the push to win more GOP senators could significantly water down the measure, arguing their party should instead focus on the more achievable goal of securing the 60 votes needed to break an expected Republican filibuster. The Democratic leaders don’t believe they should make major concessions to conservatives — mainly on issues such as border security — in order to inflate the vote tally.

Schumer seems to think that inflated numbers will force the House Republicans to go along with a worsened bill. Meanwhile, Leader Reid and Dick Durbin fall more on the side of showing a little backbone and not allowing the Republicans to run over the Democrats, or in this case, immigrants.

Back to the poll, it would seem that Latinos are a-ok with LGBT immigrants being included in the bill.

In addition, 61% of Latino voters want to see LGBT family unification included in the immigration reform bill.  As the Williams Institute has noted, nearly 270,000 undocumented immigrant adults identify as LGBT and could be penalized and not allowed to sponsor their spouses for residency or citizenship under the current bill.

Family is family, obviously, and Senator Leahy filed his amendment today. Hopefully the evangelicals will get on board and not freak out. Still, it will be tough for the amendment to pass. But, let it  be heard that if it doesn’t pass, it will be because of homophobic members of Congress, and not Latinos.

And what about “Latino” Ted Cruz’s strategy of providing for legal status, but not citizenship?

 More than three-quarters oppose the option of providing legal status only without a path to citizenship, and a majority oppose excessive fines on undocumented immigrants.  A resounding 86% say the appropriate waiting period to apply for citizenship if 5 years.

So, Republicans, especially their whiny Latino in the room, continue to be disconnected from Latinos on immigration reform. If anything, both Republicans and Democrats have been effective at keeping the worst of the bill out of the ears of Latinos, since a majority didn’t know about the $6.5 billion border boon for contractors. And if Democrats don’t shape up and fight against enforcement-heavy initiatives, it seems no political party will gain much, especially trust, from Latinos (and I don’t mean the future citizens).

Want to find out where Latinos stand? Click on the link and read the results carefully.

2012 – Latinos Bank Some Political Capital

For all intents and purposes, it would seem that 2012 was a bit more than just OK for a lib-lab like myself. It provided more hope–at least more ganas to fight–for public policies beneficial to Latinos. And because the policies would benefit Latinos, they would benefit most everyone else–even the 1%. Of course, I speak in a national sense, since Texas Latinos have more of a fight against the Tea Party’s scorched earth agenda in the Texas Legislature.

President Obama’s re-election, along with the election and re-election of good Democrats in various battlegrounds, has put into play the importance of not only the Latino vote, but the Latino community as a whole. One cannot ignore that Latinos represented 1 in every 10 votes in 2012. If anything, Latinos proved something else:  That ours is a progressive agenda that takes into account all Americans. But instead of fighting for mere existence in American political society, Latinos have now carved themselves a niche in the national conversation, and it should not be only on immigration reform.

Some would argue that we’ve had that niche for a long time, pointing to anecdotal “Latino” political appointments and all other types of window dressing. But that is not enough. As I not-so-jokingly tell people, “It’s about policy, pendejos!”

So, if Latinos truly feel that we made a difference in the 2012 elections, then we must go beyond Election Day and push forth the agenda the we have supported with our vote. And if those we elected to push forth that agenda on our behalf falter in their support, then we must do what we must and call them out, correct them, or vote them out. That’s all part of our rights as voters. And there’s nothing wrong with expecting a return on our investment as voters, no matter who may be the incumbent, no matter who is in charge of our neighborhood political machines.

As President Obama put forth in his interview with David Gregory on Meet The Press, comprehensive immigration reform is a top priority for Year One of Term Two. Frankly, I am glad he said this after all of the posturing by both sides of the gun debate after the tragedy in Newtown. Although I fall on the side of President Obama and Vice President Biden on the debate, the bottom line is that both were elected to put forth public policies that save and bolster our economy, add to the middle class, expand health care, fully fund education, and enact comprehensive immigration reform, among other policies. The voters responded to long-term challenges that have been hounding working and middle class families since Bush-2 was in office. On November 6, President Obama was provided with the political capital to respond to these issues, but he cannot do it alone, either.

Should gun reform be a part of this? Sure. But it should not take precedence over those issues on which many invested their community capital–as activists and as voters.

The fiscal cliff, the debt ceiling, jobs and the economy are an ongoing priority, and Latinos wholeheartedly agree. Investing in infrastructure and education is also a top priority for Latinos. Expanding access to health care, too. The one issue that encompasses all of these is comprehensive immigration reform, and so too will it be a top priority. And the polls and the election outcome show that Latinos and the majority of Americans agree. But the battle did not end on Election Day, as the fiscal cliff rhetoric tells us. The people, and in this case, Latinos, must demand these policies be enacted.

Back in 2006, when Democrats won back the majority of seats in Congress, I spent no time in declaring that it happened because of Latinos responding to Republican craziness on the immigration issue. When candidate-Obama won, and the numbers showed that the margins of victory in various battleground states could be credited to the Latino vote, I spent no time in declaring that Latinos should expect some political payback–mostly in the form of comprehensive immigration reform and maybe some good political appointments. In 2010, when Harry Reid defeated a well-funded Tea party challenge by speaking the truth on immigration reform, rather than taking the “blue dog” approach of making Latinos (and not just immigrants) the example, it seemed to me that 2012 had the potential to be special. But our elected leaders need to realize that our importance goes beyond the ballot box. Our importance must be exhibited in the process of creating public policy, and that means Latinos taking responsibility by joining and steering the debate.

It seems that since at least 2006, we’ve been banking some political capital. Yes, we’ve voted in elections past, but did we ever have real potential to effect meaningful and positive public policies? Or a better question, did both sides of the political argument ever have the realization that we matter in the overall conversation? To me, it is obvious. No, on both counts.

Let’s face it, when Republicans are in power, the only policies having anything to do with Latinos have been negative–Voter ID, cuts in public education, sanctuary cities laws, etc. Democrats, although defending on most aspects of the progressive agenda Latinos seem to support, failed on comprehensive immigration reform, which I’ve argued encompasses all other issues in one way or another, and was the basis of most of the negativity coming from Republicans.

But in 2012, it seems to me that we have a political savings account in which we’ve saved up our well-earned political pennies to expend on a positive political agenda. And it’s time we do. Not only the voters, but any progressive Latino elected official, too. The Latino electeds should not just wait to be told that it’s their turn, and neither should the Latino electorate wait. Whatever the outcome, it is the fight that matters and empowers us for the future.

Now, it may seem to any right-wing Republican or to any white liberal who thinks he/she is doing Latinos a favor, that I’m being too Latino-centric. Well, I started this blog because no one was mentioning Latinos in the progressive conversation, unless it was to chastise our voter turnout on the day after election day. So, let’s toss the hurt feelings aside and begin an inclusive progressive movement. Don’t try to do Latinos any favors with pats on the head, but do some listening, instead.

In 2012, Latinos sent a message and have become part of the conversation–even though most of the TV talking heads on Sunday morning aren’t Latinos, but that’s a whole other battle. But it is up to the Latino electorate (and not just those individual Latinos on end-of-year “Top 10″ lists) to continue pushing beyond Election Day to ensure our elected officials create public policy that is beneficial to all.

Let’s get to work.

Update:  LA Times seems to be just as worried about immigration reform being overshadowed by the gun fight. I’m sure Republicans would breathe a sigh a relief.

Update:  Think Progress tells us that President Obama, much like he mentioned on Meet the Press, is moving forward with immigration reform.

The Obama administration’s “social media blitz” will start in January and is expected “to tap the same organizations and unions that helped get a record number of Latino voters to reelect the president.” Cabinet secretaries and lawmakers from both parties are already holding initial meetings to iron out the details of the proposal and Obama will to push for a broad bill.

Cargas Gets Nod From Medical and Science Leaders (CD-07)

The following statement was released by 40 renowned scientists and physicians seeking a new direction in Congress.  They have found that new direction in James Cargas, the challenger in Congressional District 7.

Cargas has been a long-time advocate of returning federal science funding to levels similar to that of the Clinton Administration as a way to support our Texas Medical Center and keep good knowledge-based jobs in Houston.  Sustainable funding of research will also allow America to regain its lead in science and innovation, and develop new medicines, new treatments, and new medical technologies.  The endorsements have been primarily in response to Cargas releasing his plan.

Even more scientists, researchers and physicians and members of the medical center community have shown their support of James Cargas through an on-line petition. 

Statement by Houston Scientists and Physicians in Support of James Cargas

Voters must decide: Should we continue to defund our nation’s scientific and biomedical research programs, or should we restore the longstanding policies that have been an economic success and made Houston a world leader in science and biotechnology?

Our endorsement of James Cargas for Congressional District 7 is based on a simple choice: Houston deserves someone that will protect and strengthen vital research funding.

Throughout their crusade to “starve the beast” and reduce the size of government, Congressional Tea Party extremists, including John Culberson, have cut funding for scientific and medical research. A few “earmarks” to pet projects do not make up for the jobs or millions lost. Federal grants are awarded based on tough peer review; they are not handouts to political favorites. We have witnessed the disastrous consequences of highly rated research projects going unfunded and labs getting closed.

By failing to even allow for inflation adjustments to federal funding, the Tea Party puts their ideological goals ahead of common-sense policies that save lives, create jobs and support the economy. In Texas, every $1.00 spent on research generates $2.49 in economic development – including good knowledge-based jobs.

James Cargas understands all this. Cargas’ proposal is to restore funding to the previous Clinton administration levels and increase funding by 7.5 percent annually thereafter. This proposal will get the Texas Medical Center off life support, reverse the layoffs, and allow it to maintain its world-class status. Therefore, we as Houston scientists and physicians, strongly support James Cargas. Please be sure to vote.

Signed,
Dr. Michael S. Beauchamp, Associate Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy
Dr. Eric Bershad, Assistant Professor of Neurology
Dr. Melissa Bondy, Professor of Epidemiology
Dr. William Brinkley, Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology
Dr. Suncica Canic, Professor of Mathematics
Dr. Charles Cleeland, Professor of Cancer Research
Dr. Steven Cox, Professor of Computational and Applied Mathematics
Dr. Robert Curl, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, Professor of Natural Sciences Emeritus
Dr. J. David Dickman, Professor of Neuroscience
Dr. Manolis Doxastakis, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Dr. William Doyon, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience
Dr. Fabrizio Gabbiani, Associate Professor of Neuroscience
Dr. Andy Groves, Associate Professor of Neuroscience
Dr. Joanna Jankowsky, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience
Dr. Kresimir Josic, Associate Professor of Mathematics
Dr. Ioannis Kakadiaris, Professor of Computer Science
Dr. Weiji Ma, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience
Dr. Mirjana Maletic-Savatic, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Dr. Stephen McCauley, Assistant Professor
Dr. Nicholas Mitsiades, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Molecular and Cellular Biology
Dr. Mary Newsome, Assistant Professor
Dr. William Ott, Assistant Professor of Mathematics
Dr. Emmanuel Papadakis, Associate Professor of Mathematics
Dr. Claudia Pedroza, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Dr. Robert Raphael, Associate Professor of Bioengineering
Dr. Peter Saggau, Professor of Neuroscience
Dr. David Shine, Associate Professor of Neuroscience
Dr. Harel Shouval, Associate Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy
Dr. Stelios M. Smirnakis, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience and Neurology
Dr. Jose Suarez, Professor of Neurology
Dr. Andreas Tolias, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience
Dr. Kimberley Tolias, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience
Dr. Nikos Tsekos, Associate Professor of Computer Science
Dr. Eroboghene E. Ubogu, Associate Professor of Neurology
Dr. Chethan P. Venkatasubba Rao, Assistant Professor of Neurology
Dr. Xin Shelley Wang, Associate Professor of Cancer Medicine
Dr. Elisabeth Wilde, Assistant Professor
Dr. Anthony Wright, Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy
Dr. Marwan Yared, Professor of Pathology
Dr. Jokubas Ziburkus, Assistant Professor of Biology and Biochemistry

Houston Deserves Better!

James Cargas offers substantial public service experience. He has served in the U.S. House of Representatives as a deputy press secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as a law clerk, Clinton White House as an aide, and U.S. Department of Energy under Secretary Bill Richardson as a political appointee. He is currently the Senior Assistant City Attorney for Energy for the City of Houston. James and his wife, Dr. Dorina Papageorgiou, a neuroscientist are members of the Greek Orthodox Annunciation Cathedral.

Make a contribution to the Cargas campaign!