Tag Archives: Texas

FIEL Collecting Clothing for Refugee Children

Local immigrant rights organization, FIEL, posted on Facebook that they were collecting clothing and other supplies for the unaccompanied minors who are currently being housed across the state. They posted as follows:

In an effort to help out the humanitarian crisis along the border FIEL Houston will begin collecting supplies for the unaccompanied minors: We need the following items:
1. Gently worn (clean) children clothing
2. Childrens undergarments in new packages (ages 2 -17)
3. Toothbrushes
4. Toothpaste
5. Deodorants
6. Body Soap
7. Shampoo
8. Socks
9 Children Shoes
10. Backpacks and or large plastic bags to make welcome packages.

More info to come as the need arises.

We will also be needing volunteers soon to help put welcome packages together. But we will let you all know of specific opportunities for that.

All donations may be dropped off at FIEL HQ at 6610 Harwin #214 Houston, TX 77036 for more info please call (713)364-3435

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En un esfuerzo para ayudar con la crisis humanitaria en la frontera, FIEL Houston empezara a recolectar articulos para los inmigrantes niños sin acompañamiento. Necesitamos los siguientes articulos:
1. Ropa para niñ@s en buens condiciones y limpia
2. Ropa interior para niños/as en paquetes nuevos (edades 2 a 17)
3. Cepillos de dientes
4. Pasta de dientes
5. Desodorantes
6. Jabon de Cuerpo
7. Shampoo
8. Calcetines
9. Zapatos para niños/as
10. Mochilas y/ o bolsas de plastico grandes para hacer paquetes de bienvenida.

Tendremos mas informacion conforme se nos presente.

Tambien estaremos necesitando voluntarios pronto para armas los paquetes de bienvenida. Les dejaremos saber de oportunidades especificas para eso.

Todas las donaciones pueden ser traidas a la oficinas de FIEL localizada en el 6610 Harwin #214 Houston, TX 77036 para mas informes por favor llamen al (713)364-3435

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

Democratic Leaders React to Debate, Patrick

State Senator Sylvia R. Garcia (Houston):  “We have not learned the lessons from the mistakes of Arizona. State government needs to get out of the immigration business. Senator Leticia Van de Putte knows that immigration reform is critical and that it takes more than rhetoric to lead. She knows where we’ve been and she knows where we’re going. She has the strength and foresight to bring Texas into the future.”

State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (SA):  “Dan Patrick and the Texas GOP ought to work with and for the Latino community, instead they have been placing targets on their backs. They should know better. Dan Patrick is the embodiment of the anti-Latino, anti-immigrant Republican Party platform. He’s anti-Dream Act, anti-early childhood education, anti-immigration reform, and anti-voting rights. Dan Patrick is reason why Republican Latino outreach is a joke.

I know where my community stands, I know who they stand with: it’s with Leticia Van de Putte.”

State Rep. Mary Gonzalez (El Paso):  “Tonight, the people of El Paso experienced the real Dan Patrick. One who refers to our border regions as war zones and who does not recognize the rich culture between the United States and Mexico. We need leaders who understand how important family values and unity are to the Latino community. We need a strong female leader, and that leader is Leticia Van de Putte.”

State Rep. Armando Martinez (RGV):  “We need a Lt. Governor who fights for all Texans, not one who insults our region to score political points. Politicians like Dan Patrick continue to exploit border communities for political gain. His divisive language – the fact that he compares my home region as a war zone being invaded – shows just how out-of-touch he is with our community. This is why we need leaders like Leticia Van de Putte. Leaders who will fight for the future of our children no matter what background they come from.”

State Rep. Celia Israel (Austin): “Families in Central Texas and the Latino community understand education is the key to a better future.  I received that message loud and clear in my recent election as I talked directly to voters.  It seems Dan Patrick has yet to understand what voters are most concerned with.  Dan Patrick and his allies can’t have it both ways. He can’t try to court us while attempting to lessen educational opportunities for our kids.. His harsh rhetoric will not be forgotten by the voters this November when we elect Leticia Van de Putte as our next Lt. Governor.”

Leticia Van de Putte Campaign Statement:  “Tonight Dan Patrick repeatedly spoke of his vision of Texas in which there is only “one seat left” and of a Texas that no longer has a can-do spirit. Our state deserves a leader who will learn from the mistakes of Pete Wilson and Jan Brewer and fight for more seats and more opportunity for every hardworking Texan. That leader is Senator Leticia Van de Putte. That is why Republicans and business leaders across Texas are standing with Senator Van de Putte.”

Gilberto Hinojosa, Texas Democratic Party Chairman:  “Mayor Castro did an excellent job tonight, valiantly representing our democratic values.  Dan Patrick showed us once again that Republicans do not represent mainstream Texans. Patrick does not understand that border communities in Texas are an important piece of the vibrant Texas economy. Texas needs a leader who understands business and what makes our state so exceptional, someone who understands the international relationships and rich, uniquely Texan culture pivotal to a prosperous future. Texas needs Sen. Leticia Van de Putte.”

Texas Gets a Hire in DNCs Voter Expansion Project

Recently, you may have heard of a video VP Joe Biden made to bolster voting rights in America. In fact, it is part of a push by the Democratic National Committee to expand voting in America, ensuring voting rights for all Americans. DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz announced four new hires in Ohio and Texas–two states in which voter protection has become a priority.

“With our state party partners, we have a national infrastructure and team of experts that no other organization can bring to bear,” she said in a statement.  “Voting laws are rapidly changing, and our Voter Expansion Project will make sure that Democrats – and all voters – across the country are able to exercise their right to vote and make their voices heard.”

In Texas, it was announced today that the project’s state director will be Sondra Haltom whose work protecting the rights of voters during a stint at the Texas Democratic Party is widely known.

A native Houstonian, Haltom has 15 years of experience working on election issues like ballot access, voter suppression prevention, redistricting and more. In December 2012, she founded Empower The Vote Texas (ETVT), a non-profit organization dedicated to voting rights and election reform issues. ETVT tracked election legislation proposed in both the Texas Legislature and U.S. Congress, monitored litigation on voting rights, served as a resource on Texas election law, and educated Texans about the voting process.

“Protecting and expanding the right to vote has long been a struggle in Texas but the challenges have been magnified in recent years,” said Haltom. “In order to fight back against the barriers being erected to voter participation, it is vital that this work happen year-round. That’s why I am so excited to be a part of the DNC’s effort to ensure that all eligible Texans are able to fully participate in their democracy.”

Prior to starting ETVT, Haltom served for seven years as the Political Director for the Texas Democratic Party where she built and lead the TDP’s Voter Protection Program and their efforts to fight illegal redistricting maps, voter suppression efforts and voter ID legislation. She is a graduate of Texas Christian University.

Here’s more from President Bill Clinton on the project.

Hi- and Low-Lites from the SBOE Hearing

No doubt, there was some great testimony by supporters of Mexican American Studies, including DC-friend, Tony “Librotraficante” Diaz and Recognized author Dagoberto Gilb. Of course, Mexican American Studies was promoted and defended effectively, and it was made known that this would basically be a state-sanctioned elective whose curriculum would be developed and approved by the State and offered to the entire state. It’s a pretty simple proposal.

According to Juan Tejeda, faculty advisor at the Center for Mexican American Studies at Palo Alto College, stated that 40 individuals testified in favor of the proposal, and only one testified against it.

The AP released this report.

The discussions also likely will preview some of the coming clashes over the content of new social studies textbooks the board is set to approve for use in classrooms across Texas this fall. In 2010, then Democratic board member Mary Helen Berlanga even stormed out of a meeting on social studies curriculum after failing in her efforts to include more lessons on Hispanic leaders, declaring: “We can just pretend this is a white America and Hispanics don’t exist.”

The best question asked of the SBOE:

Still, that did beg for some questions that didn’t make much sense, but do speak to any future clashes over what is taught in the course.

As Diaz noted, the course would have to be approved first before any discussion of what is included could be had.

Obviously, Mercer was attempting to make things political in nature, rather than educational. But I agree with Diaz that if he wants to be a part of the discussion, what better way to get involved than by voting yes.

As far as Cruz’s inclusion, it could be said that maybe 65% of Mexican American voters chose the Anglo Democrat over Cruz and that Cruz constantly votes against Mexican American interests (health care, jobs, education/college aid). At least that’s what I’d contribute. That’s if Mercer really wants to get political. Otherwise, let’s make it about educating kids and move forward.

There was another question about whether indigenous Guatemalans were similar to indigenous Mexicans from SBOE member Hardy, whom I called out yesterday for basically saying Mexican American Studies came from Mexico. At least that’s what I think I heard. But that one would just be too easy to ridicule, considering she’s been a social studies teacher.

One thing is for sure. The naysayers effectively prove through their ignorance that Mexican American Studies is needed.

 

Note to SBOE Member: You Sound Ignorant

So, there is an article in the Chron (behind paywall) about the upcoming vote on Mexican American Studies at the Texas State Board of Education. It’s no secret that, although there is one Republican who supports the measure, the entire opposition is made up of Republicans. I’m hoping a few more can be convinced to support the measure, but these folks seem to be against it.

Some, like the head of the board, attempt to explain it away.

“I think it is up to the local school districts whether or not to offer a Mexican-American studies course,” board chairman Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands

Some attempt to play “divide and conquer”:

“I’m Irish,” says board member David Bradley, R-Beaumont. “So I’d like to propose an amendment to create an Irish-American Studies class.”

Then, others are downright ignorant and just plain racist, if that was her intent. I hope it wasn’t.

“We’re citizens of the United States, not citizens of Mexico.” Patricia Hardy R-Weatherford.

Let me explain to Ms. Hardy:  Mexican Americans ARE Americans!!! The social, political, and cultural history of Mexican Americans and their impact on Texas is often left out of textbooks and the classrooms for various reason. What kind of an ignorant comment is that?

And to David Bradley:  Really? Well, If there is a group of activists knocking on your door with a viable and sincere request for Irish American Studies, let them in. Otherwise, your little game is a tad immature.

And Ms. Cargill and the rest:  What are you afraid of?

I’ll let my friend, HISD Board President Juliet Stipeche explain it:

“We want to have a culturally and historically relevant high school course that aligns to the TEKS,” she says, referring to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, curriculum standards that the state creates for various classes. “We want the course to be well developed and well defined. If we don’t develop the TEKS, it can get lost in the shuffle.”

Some say we are wasting our breath because the Republicans are hell-bent on being anti-Latino, no matter what the issue may be. That may be so. But if they think that voting down the measure will end the conversation, they are wrong.

It is much simpler to vote to support Mexican American Studies and move forward. Moving backwards certainly shouldn’t be an option. It wasn’t an option for Texas’ heroes that are in our textbooks, and moving backwards was not an option for Mexican Americans who fought to move forward despite the opposition and the odds.

 

Van de Putte Takes Houston

State Senator Leticia Van de Putte, candidate for Texas Lt. Governor, spent the entire day in Houston on Saturday, moving from one end of town to another. And this blogger turned into a groupie who went to at least a few of her Houston stops–and let me tell you, it’s pretty easy to support such a magnetic and real candidate.

My day started at the Universal Shopping Center in the far western reaches of Bellaire Blvd. A diverse and energetic crowd welcomed Senator Van de Putte to Houston as her tour bus rolled in. No sooner was she off the bus, she was shaking hands and giving out heartfelt abrazos to supporters.

The Vietnam Veterans memorial provided a powerful backdrop for the Senator’s speech which covered everything from Veteran’s affairs to public education to infrastructure development (roads). Van de Putte also gave a defense of the Rio Grande Valley, which some Republicans have called the “third world,” citing over $700 million in trade per day and the vibrancy of the area. The responsive crowd stuck around after the speech to meet-greet and take selfies with the Senator.

While the Senator went to a couple more events, including the Texas Democratic Women’s “Women Making History” Luncheon, I headed out to Fiesta Loma Linda for some menudo and to await a sit-down between the Senator and the local progressive blogosphere.  What could have been a Q&A was more like a family around the table, joking a little, discussing policy and politics, and mostly, getting to know the Senator. Let me tell you, watching her on TV or on the web, one gets the feeling that she’s as real as they come. In-person, though, she is amazing, and as one blogger friend of mine states, “formidable.” She doesn’t mince words and she tells one how she feels. As I like to say, and actually told her, my favorite thing about her is that she is a Latina candidate who wasn’t created in laboratory and doesn’t run away from her upbringing or feels the need to revamp her story for political purposes. She’s a proud mom and abuela who is basically fighting for what’s right. Plus, she’s a state university-educated woman and I really like that about her.

The fact that she was the real-deal became quite obvious when she spoke to a group of college student leaders, most from collegiate Dem clubs. The most powerful part of her speech was her breakdown of tuition deregulation and how it has affected tuition rates to the tune of a 58% increase since it was first made policy. The compare/contrast in which she admits that during her days in college, one could work a part-time job and still afford tuition and living expenses, but that today’s college students are racking up loan debt even while working, showed me a candidate who understands the current situation. I had never seen a Texas Dem candidate who could connect so well with college students about the issues that affect them, and the future that awaits them if given the right opportunities with leaders that care at the helm of the Texas government.

For me, the day was over, but for Van de Putte, the bus was on its way to Fort Bend County and then on to Corpus Christi for another leg of her 2500 mile Texas tour–the first of several around the state. I highly recommend Texans give their attention to the Senator–attend her events, seek her out on social media and spread word about her campaign. Either of her prospective opponents will continue Texas’ race to the bottom, and Senator Van de Putte is all about the future of Texas.

Website:  www.LeticiaVandePutte.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/LeticiaVandePutte

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/leticiavdp

 

UPDATE:  I also captured some video of her speech to the college students. I had to reduce it to 11 minutes, but, here you go:

 

The Latest in GOP Latino Outreach

As San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro told the world last week, Dan Patrick is the most anti-immigrant Republican out there. He’s probably the worst candidate when it comes to Latino outreach, too.

After finding out that one of my favorite bands, Intocable, didn’t win the Grammy for Best Mexican Regional Album last night, I started watching some of their old videos, among other Latin music videos. At every video, the same thing popped up:  “Dan Patrick Opposes In-State Tuition for Illegal Immigrants.”

Well, I already knew that and I agree with Mayor Castro. But if this is Patrick’s idea of Latino outreach, then he’s got some awful consultants out there. I took a pic of the screen last night in case Patrick changes course and begins to place his pop-ups on “Stormfront” videos, instead.

Even funnier is the fact that Intocable, from Zapata, TX, is known for some of their pro-immigrant reform songs and commentary. But at least the Latino electorate knows how Dan Patrick really feels about them.

Progress Texas: Pasadena Plan Discriminates Against Hispanics

I must agree with the folks at Progress Texas who remind us that that Pasadena city council redistricting plan discriminates against Hispanics.

Hispanics are the voice of Texas’ new majority. In Pasadena, the Hispanic population has grown from 48.2% to 61.6% in the last decade. The Republican mayor of Pasadena is doing everything he can to stop that.

A local ballot measure in the city of Pasadena, Texas would remove two single-member council seats currently held by Hispanics and replace them with at-large seats, eliminating the biggest voice Hispanics have in the growing Houston suburb.

Thankfully, the good people from the Texas Organizing Project are educating voters about this plan. It is time for all of you to spread the word and tell your friends and family in Pasadena to vote against Johnny Isbell’s ballot proposal.

Pasadena Moves Toward Mid-Decade Redistricting

Hearing about election jurisdictions attempting to change voting laws definitely is not a shocker and I expect it to occur more in cities and towns around Texas who have benefited from single member districts in the form of representation. The Supreme Court’s decimation of the Voting Rights Act has caused conservative elected officials to walk around with their chests out while they reverse course on decades of progress on equal rights for all.

Regarding Pasadena, I received this from State Senator Sylvia Garcia:

Pasadena Mayor Johnny Isbell submitted a mid-decade redistricting change to the Pasadena City Charter that alters the city council from an eight single-member district council to a hybrid system with two at large seats and six-single member district seats.  The change will significantly increase the population size of each council seat and depending on the map could drastically harm the ability of Latinos to elect their candidates of choice.  The Pasadena City Council approved the city charter amendment on a 5-4 vote despite overwhelming public opposition in a late evening city council hearing on August 20, 2013.

“This decision by the Mayor and the majority of the Council is exactly the type of change the Voting Rights Act was intended to prevent.  I am extremely disappointed that the Council approved this charter amendment despite the opposition by the citizen’s commission and the minority community,” stated Senator Sylvia Garcia.

With the Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder, the City of Pasadena will no longer need to obtain the pre-clearance of the Department of Justice, despite the fact that a similar election change was denied approval in December of 2012.  The measure will likely be added to the November ballot for voter approval.

According to U.S. Department of Justice, since 1982 Texas has had the second highest number of Voting Rights Act Section 5 objections including at least 109 objections since 1982, 12 of which were for statewide voting changes.  Texas leads the nation in several categories of voting discrimination, including recent Section 5 violations and Section 2 challenges.

According to this article, the charter amendment would be a fifth one added to a list to be voted on in November. The people still get to decide, but it will take a real, concerted effort to educate voters on defeating this amendment.

What I have been saying for the longest time is that while the Voting Rights Act was created to protect voters from people like Pasadena’s mayor, we still have the ultimate responsibility to vote. In the case of Pasadena, elections matter even more.

BOR has more, including some demographic analysis.