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.

 

 

 

 

 

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