Commissioner Ellis Seeks County Authorization to Join SB4 Lawsuit

This past week, Houston finally joined Austin, San Antonio, Dallas and various organizations in suing the state of Texas over its racial profiling law (SB4), Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis sent a letter prior to the City’s action to County Attorney Vince Ryan requesting him to seek authorization from the Harris County Commissioner’s Court to join the SB4 lawsuit.

As the nation’s third-largest county with the fifth-largest foreign-born population, Harris County is at particular risk under SB4. Immigrants are a vital part of our community and strengthen the social fabric of Harris County. This new legislation threatens to tear families apart. Immigrants cannot and should not be driven back into the shadows or live in fear because of this unconstitutional law.

Already, local governments have filed suit against SB4, and a preliminary hearing is scheduled for Monday in San Antonio. Just this past week, the Houston City Council voted to join San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, Bexar County and other local governments in a consolidated lawsuit challenging the law.

As Commissioner, I will continue to stand with immigrant families and defend the right of local government and law enforcement to set their own priorities. In a June 9 letter, I asked Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan to seek authorization from Harris County Commissioners Court to join the lawsuit against SB4. I believe it is vitally important for Harris County to fight this unjust law and look forward to working with County Attorney Ryan on this important issue that we both care about. 

SB4 is a reflection of the anti-immigrant sentiment permeating our society and stands in the way of comprehensive immigration reform. It upholds a flawed and outmoded form of immigration control that tears families apart, increases racial profiling, and violates due process. We need immigration solutions that attend to the complex issues surrounding reform with compassion, efficiency, and effectiveness in mind. And wherever there is discrimination, we must be prepared to speak out and take action.

Some may think there is a slim to none chance of a Republican-heavy court doing the right thing, but we have a County Judge who has taken more moderate stances on immigration issues, and the commissioner of Precinct 2, who is up for re-election in 2018, serves a Latino-heavy precinct. Who knows? Maybe they can be convinced to do the right thing. At the very least, they should provide an audience for discussion of this issue since it affects a majority of county residents.

Muchos thank yous to Commissioner Rodney Ellis for taking a strong stance on the lawsuit.

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Houston City Council Votes 10-6 to Join SB4 Lawsuit

Well, unsurprisingly, Houston City Council split on a resolution in support of joining the SB4 lawsuit. The vote was 10 to 6 in favor, with the six against being:  Kubosh, Martin, Travis, Knox, Stardig, and Le.

In breaking news, some of us are now looking for “welcoming” opponents and/or replacements for: Kubosh, Martin, Travis, Knox, Stardig, and Le.

The mayor chose to go the “democratic” route in allowing for discussion on a resolution. The resolution isn’t a permission slip, as much as it is a show of support from Council. Perhaps even a temperature-taking of the City Council for any other litigation against the state that may come up in the near future. I’m of the opinion that we went the democratic route in 2015 and made Mayor Turner the executive to make executive decisions.

OK, so it got done Mayor Turner’s way. I understand the political games politicians feel they must play. Meanwhile, MALDEF and other organizations have already been hard at work defending against Greg Abbott’s overreach and his Republican Party’s hateful nature.

With the coming Texas legislative special session, we can expect more overreach on bathrooms. Will Council need to vote on whether Abbott, Patrick and company need to be sued on this if it passes? As always, I’ll be on the side of human rights. When it’s the right thing to do, you just do it.

I do have a whole bunch of appreciation for CM Gallegos for leading on this, and I appreciate the support given by the others on Council. Kudos to Cesar Espinosa and FIEL and the other groups who were fighting from Day 1.

A hearing is scheduled for June 26 in which a federal judge in San Antonio will hear a preliminary injunction filed by the tiny city of El Cenizo, TX to stop SB4 from taking effect on September 1.

 

Houston Votes on SB4 Lawsuit Today

Over 200 members of the community showed up at City Hall yesterday to deliver public comments regarding this week’s City Council Agenda Item #16, a resolution supporting the City of Houston joining the lawsuit against Greg Abbott and the State of Texas which questions the constitutionality of Senate Bill 4–the “show me your papers” law.

According to the Chron, sparks did fly when CM Greg Travis, a known “NO” on the issue, took offense when several members of the Texas House testified that SB4 is hateful and evil. Travis used the usual conservative rhetoric of “rule of law” as the reason for SB4, rather than racist and evil reasons. State Rep. Gene Wu shot back, reminding the room that he’s heard rhetoric, such as “dirty mexican,” “wetback,” “drug dealers,” being used by those who voted for the bill and those who support those who voted for the bill.

Needless to say, the message was delivered that the City of Houston must join the lawsuit against what is basically a legalized racial profiling law. Right-wingers will say that questioning any given brown person’s citizenship is just “optional,” but opening the door to it is a danger in itself. If these conservatives refuse to get beyond the discriminatory nature of SB4, one would think that their conservative anti-spending side would creep out of them to vote FOR the lawsuit to avoid costly litigation that will come. The message they send is that they just don’t care and don’t mind targeting entire groups of people–citizen and not.

Anyway, you can still make some last-minute calls to your district and at-large council members. Tell them to vote FOR today’s Agenda Item #16–the resolution to support the City joining the lawsuit against Senate Bill 4.

District A Brenda Stardig 832-393-3010
District B Jerry Davis 832-393-3009
District C Ellen Cohen 832-393-3004
District D Dwight Boykins 832-393-3001
District E Dave Martin 832-393-3008
District F Steve Le 832-393-3002
District G Greg Travis 832-393-3007
District H Karla Cisneros 832-393-3003
District I Robert Gallegos 832-393-3011
District J Mike Laster 832-393-3015
District K Larry Green 832-393-3016

At-Large 1 Mike Knox 832-393-3014
At-Large 2 David Robinson 832-393-3013
At-Large 3 Michael Kubosh 832-393-3005
At-Large 4 Amanda Edwards 832-393-3012
At-Large 5 Jack Christie 832-393-3017 (* Still Abstaining?)

Of course, if Kuff is correct, it could also get tagged by an opponent which would delay the vote until next week. Delaying a resolution? Now, that would be a waste of time and resources and a show of how evil and hateful opponents really are.

Tell Your Houston City Council Members to Support SB4 Lawsuit (Agenda Item 16)

The Mayor and Houston City Council will be hearing public comments today and many opponents of the “Show Me Your Papers” law (SB4) are expected to show up today to voice their concerns. If you cannot make it, but want to urge your district Council Member and At-Large Council Members to vote in favor of joining the lawsuit against Senate Bill 4, here are their numbers:

District A Brenda Stardig 832-393-3010
District B Jerry Davis 832-393-3009
District C Ellen Cohen 832-393-3004
District D Dwight Boykins 832-393-3001
District E Dave Martin 832-393-3008
District F Steve Le 832-393-3002
District G Greg Travis 832-393-3007
District H Karla Cisneros 832-393-3003
District I Robert Gallegos 832-393-3011
District J Mike Laster 832-393-3015
District K Larry Green 832-393-3016

At-Large 1 Mike Knox 832-393-3014
At-Large 2 David Robinson 832-393-3013
At-Large 3 Michael Kubosh 832-393-3005
At-Large 4 Amanda Edwards 832-393-3012
At-Large 5 Jack Christie 832-393-3017 (* Still Abstaining?)

SPECIFICALLY, ask your district and At-Large Council Members to support Agenda Item 16 (6/21/2017).

RESOLUTION in support of the City of Houston joining the litigation to challenge Senate Bill 4 (Commonly known as the Texas Sanctuary Cities Bill)

Recent head-counts show that the Council isn’t fully united in support of the lawsuit. If anything, it’s pretty split for a city that enjoys selling its diversity when trying to attract sporting events and business interests, Those in red may need some extra convincing, including my own CM Steve Le.

Bottom line:  A politician shouldn’t be on the wrong side of history on this one.

KUDOS:  To the Meyerland Area Democratic Club for sending their own message to City Council in support of the SB4 lawsuit. Last night, they passed a resolution stating their support showing that such laws are a threat to all sectors of Houston. Thank you to their president Art Pronin!

#SB4: 14 Houston-area TX House Members Send Letter to Houston Council

Fourteen members of the Houston delegation of the Texas House have penned a letter in which they ask members of the Houston City Council to support the City of Houston’s participation in a lawsuit questioning the constitutionality of the “show me your papers” law signed by Greg Abbott, Senate Bill 4. The law would allow untrained local cops to question a person’s citizenship based on little else than the look of a person.

cohltrsb4-1

Pointing to the intent of SB4 as a racial profiling law, the members of the legislature state that over 44 percent of Texas’ population is Latino, Asian-American, or Arab-American. Add to that the 11.5% that is African-American and nearly two-thirds of the population of Texas could be affected by racial profiling.

The legislators also remind members of Council that such a law will send us down the road of past failures in anti-immigrant laws, such as California Prop 187 and Arizona’s SB1070.

Recent headcounts of City Council have shown a divided City Council. For a city that thrives on marketing its diversity, a divided City Council on an issue such as the constitutionality of legalized racial profiling will not make for a palatable, if not, “welcoming” city.

Thanks to these Texas legislators for taking a stand:  Alma Allen, Carol Alvarado, Garnet Coleman, Harold Dutton, Jessica Farrar, Ana Hernandez, Jarvis Johnson, Mary Ann Perez, Ron Reynolds, Shawn Thierry, Senfronia Thompson, Hubert Vo, Armando Walle, Gene Wu.

DC Reviews: Los Chamacos ~ Este Momento

Jaime y Los Chamacos are back with their next album on the VMB Music Group label, Este Momento. Much like their first album, this one is packed with rancheras and cumbias, new material, and some golden oldies that put JyLC on the map.

The album starts off with rancheras, Mi Cariñito and an oldie, Mi Muñequita. Already memories of dances and concerts at nightclubs, Sea World, and even that huge concert at the UT Erwin Center I once attended in the 90s are returning. Decades and line-up changes later, JyLC have not lost their touch. Jaime de Anda’s accordion style is still among the most recognizable in La Onda.

Their newest hit, though, is a hard-driving cumbia titled El Embrujo, featuring DJ Kane, which should keep club DJs happy and will be a live treat, too. The oldies, though, keep sending us reminders of our dancing days, and El Complejo does not disappoint. JyLC fans do get a new treat with Este Momento, as Jaime de Anda and Destiny Navaira belt out this ranchera, assisted by Destiny’s brother Rigo on bajo sexto. Raulito and her late Tio Emilio are certainly proud.

Los Chamacos’ cumbias are still much enjoyed, so, Esta Güerita and Me Importas Tu will will definitely fill that cumbia need. The latter was once recorded in the 90s and features some nice bajo sexto (Roel Joslin) and accordion dueling. Volvio El Tormento was one of my favorites and is delivered very nicely, along with another ranchera, Pobre Corazon. Finally, the album closes with Jaime’s Favorites, an instrumental medley of polkitas, another specialty of Jaime’s.

Jaime has always ensured a good line-up of musicians, and this one is no different. Los Chamacos are:  Jaime De Anda, Eduardo (Chato) Ordonez, Roel Joslin, Ruben Mendoza, Gilbert Fierros.

Congrats to JyLC and VMB Music on another great production. Get your copy today.

 

TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance would like to see some thinkpieces analyzing the economic motives of Lord Buckethead voters as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff looks at Republican fear of a redistricting ruling and considers the best case scenarios.

Yuge news broke every day last week but PDiddie at Brains and Eggs only had time to blog a few paragraphs about all of it.

SocraticGadfly, channeling Greg Palast’s smarter brother, Greg AtLast, talks about Trump v Comey, and how too much Putin Did It conspiracy thinking got Reality Winner arrested, as well as how the Comey testimony was kind of a nothingburger.

Neil at All People Have Value reported that the City of Houston offers hurricane preparedness guides in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese and Arabic. It is good to care about all people. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Sanford Levinson argues that nobody really knows what “sincerely held religious beliefs” are.

Lize Burr tries to make sense of the special session agenda.

Jay Leeson wonders why so many senators want to serve Dan Patrick’s interests instead of their constituents’.

Andrew Edmonson thinks pride parades should return to their protest-march roots.

Paradise in Hell has a modest proposal for Greg Abbott.

Durrel Douglas provides a way to help the family of Johnny Hernandez.

San Antonio Joins SB4 Lawsuit; Still Waiting on Houston

The Rivard Report reported that San Antonio’s City Council instructed the city’s legal team to join the sb4 lawsuit against Greg Abbott and the State of Texas in the hopes of striking down Senate Bill 4–a law that allows for racial profiling by local law enforcement for the purposes of immigration enforcement. San Antonio joins other Texas cities in taking on the State.

San Antonio City Council instructed the City attorney to pursue litigation against Senate Bill 4, the State’s controversial immigration law also known as the “sanctuary cities” law.

[…]

The decision was made on May 25 during executive session, a meeting not open to the public. Similar lawsuits to block the law have been filed by Austin, El Paso CountyMaverick County along the U.S.-Mexico border, and the city of El Cenizo south of Laredo.

If only Houston had a City Council empowered to make such decisions; however, Houston has a “strong mayor” form of goverment in which the Mayor decides what is on the City Council agenda, or, what kinds of legal maneuvering can be done by the City’s legal team which he appoints. Of course, such a form of government doesn’t preclude members of Council from speaking up to the Mayor.

So, we’ll keep waiting on whatever analysis and decisions are made on SB4 locally. I guess.

FIEL: Time’s Up, Mayor Turner, Sue Texas Over SB4

Immigrant rights group, FIEL, held a press conference this morning to remind Mayor Sylvester Turner that the end of the legislative session has come and that it is time for Houston to join other cities in filing a lawsuit against Greg Abbott and the State of Texas over its new racial profiling law, SB4. Turner has stated he would begin to look at SB4 after the legislative session.

KPRC reported on today’s action. FIEL has provided video of the press conference.

“Our community and many of its leaders have been very patient and have continued to have trust in Mayor Turner. We are less than 100 days from SB4 being implemented. We do not need more promises of a welcoming Houston. We need the mayor and City Council to take action to protect Houston immigrant families,” said Cesar Espinosa, executive director of FIEL.

Mayor Turner has since responded with a press statement.

Now that the Legislative session is over, the city is in the process of reviewing and analyzing all bills that passed the House and Senate, including Senate Bill 4. The city, of course, will adhere to all laws that are deemed constitutional and consistent with the rulings of the Supreme Court.  SB4 does not take effect until September 1, 2017. In the meantime, the city of Houston will do its analysis.

Mayor Sylvester Turner

On Wednesday, May 31, the City Council will hold a public session and SB4 opponents are expected to appear to ask the Mayor and City Council for legal action against the State of Texas.

The last-day-of-session antics of Republican State Rep. Matt Rinaldi (Irving) in which he stated he had called ICE on Texas Latinos who were protesting SB4 at the State Capitol prove the intent of bigoted racial profiling laws created by Republicans. These laws do nothing for public safety; if anything, they have a negative effect on safety and the economy. But everyone involved already knows this. Let’s call it what it is–state-supported racism.

City leaders have a duty to protect its residents from these kind of laws, and the only recourse left (other than the 2018 and 2019 elections) is the courts. Frankly, if the City of Houston can pay for lobbyists to push for pension reform, then it can pay for lawyers to ensure its residents are protected from SB4.

Or, maybe the Mayor is just waiting for the governor’s signature on pension reform. And for the ink to dry.

Will Houston Sue Texas for SB4?

traveladvisoryAt a community forum in which Mayor Sylvester Turner, Chief Art Acevedo and others participated, it seemed the City’s priorities did not include any concrete decisions regarding SB4. At least, not until later.

Turner said that his administration would evaluate the bill after the legislative session ends May 29.

For those of us who would be targeted for racial profiling by local cops (it’s not just immigrants, but brown people in general), the lack of prioritization on challenging SB4 and defending from Republican targeting of Latinos has left a community wondering if it matters to elected leaders.

From Turner, the response to SB4 all along has been the same:

“I want you to know that Houston will be a welcoming, just and compassionate city that will work to protect all people from discrimination.”

Acevedo who had previously said that his department would not be a local INS, changed his commentary, though:

Acevedo made clear that police will be required to fill out a report and detail why they felt it necessary to ask someone’s immigration status.

“If you stop somebody for jaywalking and the only reason you’re asking because they don’t speak English,” Acevedo said, “that will be profiling, and we will not tolerate it.”

So, it is pretty obvious that, much like Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, HPD intends to follow the law. But there is no indication of whether Houston will join other smaller cities and the City of Austin in suing the State of Texas to challenge the law’s constitutionality. Certainly, I don’t expect the right-wing-heavy commissioners court at the County level to do anything, and certainly, Judge Ed Emmett has remained quiet. Frankly, the City’s lawyers should already be studying the law in anticipation of a decision to sue BEFORE it goes in effect on September 1.

In my opinion, nothing says “welcoming city” like a city suing the state government because of a racist law that targets at least 50% of the population. Certainly, it would show the city’s leaders are fighting for people, and not just using “diversity” as a means to increase tourism and business profits.

No doubt, Mayor Turner is awaiting the fate of the pension bill, which is the city leadership’s top priority. But as much as our city’s coffers should be a priority, so should its inhabitants. Immigrant or not, brown or not, we all pay taxes and shouldn’t live in fear of our own law enforcement. And if city coffers are the priority, certainly, Mayor Turner and the City Council should also consider the feasibility of SB4’s enactment and its effect on HPD’s budget, considering that being a Local INS will cost a lot more–in monetary term and in terms of crime-reporting, as the Chief has already specified.

Obviously, let’s stay tuned.