Category Archives: 2013 Categories

Another Week in Anti-Immigrant News

Racial Profiling Stopped Temporarily

Greg Abbott had his bigoted order to allow racial profiling to stop the federal transport of migrants to “stop COVID” temporarily stopped while the judge considers its constitutionality. Abbott, of course, will continue to fight for bigotry by wasting money on court costs and lawyers.

While many of us will argue against racial profiling by Abbott and his bigoted nature of blaming migrants for COVID-19 while allowing his supporters to go unvaccinated and maskless , the Biden administration just wants to make its job of (ware)housing migrants easier.

U.S. attorneys argue that Abbott’s order would interfere with the federal government’s ability to transport migrants between facilities. Federal officials spend over $200 million annually to employ contractors to transfer migrants and to avoid overcrowding facilities, according to court documents. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has more than 20 contracts with Texas private service providers and county governments for transportation services that cover more than 8,000 miles per day.

I wish folks would work as zealously for, I don’t know, immigration reform, deporation reform, and maybe a change in Latin America policy. This hurry up and wait attitude that Democrats seem to thrive on and the bigotry which Republicans win on, has made for a bad situation all around, while enriching contractors and private prisons, and a status quo for both sides to exploit.

Graham and Cuellar

COVID-19 spreader Lindsey Graham and Laredo congressman Cuellar are in cahoots at trying to get a “border czar” appointed. For what? I don’t know. They should be passing immigration reform, right? But suggesting Obama’s creator of the cages in which kids were caged, Jeh Johnson, is not a good idea.

Cuellar says he is doing in defense of la migra, when he should be calling for reforms on the bigoted agency.

I don’t know about y’all, but this reminds me of when Cuellar tried to work with another white supremacist, Colorado’s Tom Tancrazy on their version of bigotry back in the days of HR4437 and the creation of REAL ID.

ACLU v Biden

ACLU is challenging the Biden Administration‘s continued use of Title 42, which allows the Border Patrol to immediately deport migrants without due process. The rule was used by Trump in the name of COVID-19, and Biden is doing it, too.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued an updated order that maintains there is a public health justification, given the ongoing pandemic, for the Biden administration to continue kicking out migrants without allowing them to seek asylum. The order can remain in effect indefinitely.

Can you see the hypocrisy? We complain about Abbott blaming migrants, but Biden is doing it, too. Biden just uses a prettier way of explaining it. But the Trumpening of Biden is worrisome.

In recent months, Mexico has been increasingly more resistant to accepting families expelled from the U.S. under Title 42, resulting in a majority of families entering the U.S. to be permitted to remain in the country. Biden, for his part, has previously said migrant families should “all be going back.”

Last week, the Biden administration began to speed up deportations for some families who cross the U.S.-Mexico border and cannot be expelled under Title 42, a move that further frustrated immigrant advocates and attorneys. The practice, known as expedited removal, has been used by Democratic and Republican administrations to allow for U.S. border officials to expel migrants without a hearing before an immigration judge.

And that is your bipartisan, anti-immigrant news for today.

QEPD – Ruben Cubillos

There were some good articles and tributes posted yesterday for Ruben Cubillos, Tejano Music advocate, graphic/visual artist, and performer, who passed away over the weekend. I never got to meet him, but I knew and appreciated his work. We also became FB friends and I partook of some of the intense and productive conversations he would start on the state of the Tejano Music genre.

Regarding articles, check out Tejano Nation and Joey Guerra’s piece in the Chron. My FB friend and Austin PR exec Paul Saldana also had one on FB.

If you’ve ever bought a Selena tee, poster, album, or anything with her logo, you owe it to Ruben Cubillos. Ruben put Tejano music imagery on the map, developing concepts and images for Tejano music album covers when the big record companies were finally investing in the genre in the early 90s. Bands like Mazz, David Lee Garza y Los Musicales, and Selena enjoyed his top-notch and creative concepts, which added much value to their albums.

Along with his professional PR career and his career as a vocalist with the legendary Latin Breed, he was also an advocate. Always willing to offer up some advice to up and coming musicians, he never candy coated it. He was quite honest, especially when it came to how a band should develop their image. Especially during the forced break during the pandemic. But he was also an advocate.

Ruben was one of the leaders of those demanding the HoustonRodeo bring back Tejano music acts after it decided to concentrate on regional Mexican and banda acts. Beyond this, the protests were also about pay parity for Latino acts, equity in distribution of scholarships given from the thousands of dollars made from sold out concerts, and more diversity in rodeo committees. Well, Tejano is still missing from the line-ups, the undocumented are still passed over for scholarship money, even though that’s who attends the banda music concerts, but the message was sent to the rodeo people and Ruben was one of the chief advocates. All the rodeo people did was whine that anyone would complain.

Anyway, Ruben was one of the good ones in an industry that has historically been taken advantage of by corporatism, whether it came from Miami-owned radio stations, LA-based record companies, or corporations who used it to make a buck. When the profits slowed, the genre was cut-off and left to die. But much was learned and the music and culture continues. And Ruben is one of the reasons it continues.

Gracias, Ruben.

New Tunes For Your Playlists

When there is new music I like, whether it’s Tejano, Americana, Rock, or anything, I’ll try to share it on the weekend. A few tunes came out this week that caught my ear. They are already on heavy rotation in my car. Click on the link on the song title to give it a listen. [Figured out how to add the vid, too!]

Intocable – The Zapata-based group released a new tune this week. Jamas Te Soltare is a country-esque danceable ranchera-like tune.

Los Lobos – The boys from LA released an album of covers–an ode to the city of their birth. Native Sons takes us to different places with various tunes made famous by LA bands and musicos. One of my faves is the samba, Los Chucos Suaves, written by Lalo Guerrero. Los Lobos add an original tune, Native Son, written by their own Louis Perez which sums up LA, especially in their video.

La Santa Cecilia (f/ Lila Downs) – That other group from LA offers up a nice cumbia featuring the powerful vocals of La Marisoul and Lila Downs. The accompanying video filmed in Oaxaca offers up some fun, as well as a twist at the end.

Daniel Valdez, David Hidalgo, Eugene Rodriguez – Los Siento Mi Vida is a beautiful trio-style break-up song written by Linda Ronstadt and her father. You might recognized Daniel as Ritchie’s cool uncle on La Bamba (and also co-founder of Teatro Campesino), David from Los Lobos, and Eugene from the band and cultural education nonprofit, Los Cenzontles. Enjoy!

DOJ Sues Abbott Over Migrant Transport

I’m content with the fast action of the DOJ in suing Greg Abbott over his executive order barring transport of migrants. The DOJ clarified the “who” regarding transport.

The lawsuit says that if migrants are not allowed to be transported by volunteers or contractors they would have to be confined to immigration facilities where there would not be enough space for every migrant.

Greg Abbott continues to blame brown people for COVID-19, but it’s not like President Biden isn’t doing the same thing by continuing a policy used by Trump for the same reason.

Currently, the Biden administration is turning back many migrants under Title 42, which allows agents to make migrants return to Mexico because of the risk of spreading COVID-19. This practice has been in place since the Trump administration.

The Rio Grande Guardian has a good explanation on what is going on in Greg Abbott’s ground zero for these gross civil rights violations.

For even more clarity for those who don’t know how things happen:

Immigration rights advocates say that Abbott’s most recent order would not only disrupt shelters who have been hosting migrants released by Border Patrol agents, but would also invite troopers to racially profile people. They also said that this would impact volunteers who drive migrants to bus stops or airports.

Many of the migrants have attempted to enter the country through the Rio Grande Valley. Many of them have requested asylum and immigration officials have released some migrants pending the outcomes of their asylum cases.

Some migrants stay at shelters until friends or relatives send them money for a bus ride or plane ticket to their U.S. destination.

I cannot help but wonder why the asylum process is so difficult on the Texas border, but seems to be fast-tracked in Florida.

We are in this not because of those leaving their home countries and coming in through the Texas border, but because the US continues to either impose blockades, mess with their elections, impose economic sanctions because they don’t like whom the people elected, turns their heads when the right-wing dictators they support violate the human rights of people, or are still practicing empire-building for the benefit of US corporations who steal those countries natural resources. But it’s a great political football for either side of the aisle, while meetings and press conferences continue to be held to determine whether or not to add some sort of reform to the budget reconciliation bill.

And that’s for tons of other blog posts.

Kuff has more.

Republicans Blame Brown People for COVID-19

Thus far, the governors of two failing states, Texas and Iowa, have blamed brown folks for the rise in the COVID-19 rate. They don’t blame the fact that half of their states have yet to be vaccinated or that they are run by anti-mask republicans, though.

In Texas, Greg Abbott has given orders to his state police to commit racial profiling to stop any car with suspected migrants from leaving South Texas in the name of COVID-19. Meanwhile, we don’t know the vaccination rate of his state police, county police who are happily assisting him, or his national guard members. We also know that more than half the state is unvaccinated because of him.

In Iowa, its governor blames brown folk, but the Iowa State Fair goes merrily on with no mask mandate while the medical experts worry about the kind of COVID-19 outbreak that will occur.

You can use a term like “culture war” all you want, but this is downright racist public policy. And those running for office need to call it what it is because the republicans sure as hell aren’t playing nice. Why should we?

The Attorney General of the United States spoke up and threatened to sue Abbott for his policy which violates civil rights of noncitizens in federal custody. Unfortunately, the Biden’s administration position has more to do with defending its right to transport captured migrants, rather than changing immigration and detention policy altogether.

Anyway, we are seeing what the republican platform will be in 2022.

Los Blogs de Tejas – TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance is still standing strong with the quorum-busting Dem legislators as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff notes a possible Abbott-induced hitch in Republican plans to dominate redistricting.

Stace tells us about Greg Abbott’s ploy to charge immigrants with state charges in order to house them in a state prison.

SocraticGadfly talks about last week’s leaked Kremlin documents, noting that the leak was almost certainly deliberate and, if anything, further disproves Trump-Putin collusion claims.

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

Dr. Peter Hotez describes the “triple-headed monster” President Biden faces in vaccine disinformation.

Charles Miller calls for bipartisan conversations about legislative staff salaries, given Austin’s rising cost of living.

Grits for Breakfast wonders why we’re not talking more about the sharp increase in overdose deaths, which has outstripped the increase in murders.

Emily Eby presents “Marvel Heroes Who’d Lose The Right to Vote Under HB3”.

John Coby reviews the Republican AG candidates’ July finance reports.

The Great God Pan Is Dead salutes some Fifth Ward art.

This Week in Anti-Immigrant News

Greg Abbott continues his bigoted assault on migrants.

We already know about his GoFundMe wall and his Gitmo-styled concentration camp for misdemeanor trespassers who set foot on private property while escaping poverty and violence.

He has also called out the Texas National Guard to help out DPS in arresting migrants.

Now, he’s given the green light to DPS to practice racial profiling in South Texas by stopping any vehicle suspected of smuggling. All this, while Abbott seems to be blaming migrants for COVID-19, rather than his own equally bigoted, unmasked, unvaccinated supporters, which make up over half the state.

Abbott seems to be running one hell of a campaign tailored to his bigoted base. State Senator Carol Alvarado provided a response on her FB:

This attack on migrants & charities is a blatant culture war distraction from the REAL problems we should be solving:

✔️Fix the skyrocketing #Covid rate

✔️Protect our children from Covid in schools

✔️Improve our low vaccination rate

✔️Expand Medicaid

✔️Oh & #fixthegrid already

Another response to Abbott was this one:

Dani Marrero Hi, director of advocacy for La Unión del Pueblo Entero, an advocacy group, said it is hypocritical of Abbott to issue this order because he has not allowed counties to mandate COVID-related policies that could help mitigate the spread of the virus.

“For an area like the Rio Grande Valley, where I think a lot of people already experienced kind of racial profiling from cops, and we have local law enforcement collaborating with Border Patrol, this is just gonna have a catastrophic impact,” she said.

On the other side of the aisle, the Biden administration seems to be shirking its own campaign promises as they will continue a fast-track deportation program that immediately sends back migrants without due process. And it also seems that Biden prosecutors are continuing to deport folks who are supposed to be receiving some discretion from that kind of action.

Just a reminder, there are over 27,000 asylum seekers in ICE jails under Biden. So, is Biden building numbers for defensive purposes? What’s the deal?

Anyway, that’s the update.

Get Your Shots! Mask Up!

Since the media and government are on top of trying to get shots into the unvaccinated, there’s no sense in me joining that part of the chorus.

I’ve seen the stats regarding the unvax’d: A majority are anti-vaxxers and come up with any and all excuses to not get a shot. And the rest either don’t have access, or just plain procrastinate. Thankfully, vaccination rates seem to be creeping up, again; however, infections are exploding.

My big worry remains on the vaccinated, and so many numbers are thrown at us to make us feel safe from hospitalization and death. But we need some sense of reality about what is to come regarding infections, rather than being told that because 150 million Americans are vaccinated, only .0000013 (or whatever) are infected. That is disingenuous at best and an avoidance of reality at worse.

I’ve been looking toward Los Angeles when it comes to breakthrough cases. The LA County Public Health Director reported a few days ago regarding breakthrough cases based on current COVID-19 testing. There has been steady growth in infections of the vaccinated.

In March, vaccinated people accounted for only 2% of all infections. In April that rose to 5%. In May, it was 11%. It stood at 20% in June — and is now likely higher. The rise coincides with the rise of the more transmissible Delta variant in the county, which now accounts for 84% of all variants recently identified.

The reason?

“The more people who are vaccinated, the more people who will end up testing positive.”

Huh?

“Those numbers will go up — including among vaccinated people,” she said, “until we get community transmission under control. Masking will help.”

That’s why LA’s indoor masking order was put in place.

In other words, COVID-19 and its variants are out there because people refuse to get vaccinated and because states have sped up their re-openings without having reached a vaccination rate that would control transmission, or having put policies like masking that may control transmission in place.

And a reminder that the vaccinated can still get infected with mostly mild symptoms. But some of us don’t want the infection.

Much like LA and California, Texas is in the same predicament with its even lower vax rate and even faster reopening. There doesn’t seem to be much of a plan to keep students masked when they return to school, and the vaccination rates are lower for the 12 to 18 population. Already, we are seeing a younger population in hospitals with many being unvaccinated. But, again, what about the vax’d?

And let’s go deeper. What about the vaccinated with comorbidities and the immunosuppressed who may suffer more if infected? All this to worry about along with long haulers and those suffering post-COVID-19 after effects.

Obviously the discussion over booster shots is beginning, but at this point, masking up is equally important. Given the numbers, masking needs to be as close to mandated as possible in Texas schools and universities, and even at places of business where crowds form. Whatever Greg Abbott is doing to suppress lives in Texas, it is the leaders of these institutions who must act accordingly and show some…leadership. At the very least, be an example and wear a mask!

I usually would go along with the “don’t worry” crowd, but when the message comes from relatively medically healthy, thin, and insured self-proclaimed thought leaders, my alarms go off and I start feeling that entire groups of people are going ignored.

In other words, we need to be proactive for everyone’s sake.

Find a vaccine. Mask up! Keep clean! Stay away from crowds! You know the drill.

UPDATE: CDC is now recommending vaccinated people wear masks indoors.

The agency is recommending that vaccinated people who live in areas with substantial and high transmission wear masks in indoor public spacesto help prevent viral spread, according to three people familiar with the guidance. It is also advising that vaccinated people with vulnerable individuals in their households, including young children and those who are immunocompromised, wear masks indoors in public spaces.

The agency is also urging universal masking for all teachers, staff and students in schools, regardless of vaccination status.

Now, it’s up to leaders to choose whether to follow-thru, or be whiny SOBs.

The Newest in Tejano Music

Obviously, if you need the best day-to-day news about Tejano music and culture, you should visit Tejano Nation. But I have my favorites, too, and some of those faves have been releasing new material. Here are a few that hit my radar (and Spotify playlist):

Jay Perez – The Voice is back with an amazing production, El Maestro. Along with that voice is a team of musicians and songwriters who helped put together something to enjoy from start to finish. The first single, Eres, is a Perez-penned tune that keeps that legacy sound we all expect. Cumbias, like Mi Duena and Aun Te Extrano give Perez a whole new dimension, but it is Norteno-lite tunes like Juan Trevino’s Ya Se Fue and Entiendo that will surely expand his audience into Mexico. My fave, though, is the Joe Revelez-composed Para Volvernos Amar, with Jay’s soaring vocals. It’s a must-have!

La Fiebre – Speaking of legacy sound, The Pride of Pasadena continues to offer up that rock-tinged Tejano sound with Historico. The trumpets are as strong as ever, backed up by strong bass lines, guitar rhythms and powerful drumming. The first single, Mendigo, written by the legend Freddie Martinez, Sr., gives you that Borracho de Besos feel, while their newest single, Cuidala, takes you back to that No Cure era where the sound really took off. Cumbias like Mira, with its rock guitar and soaring trumpets should definitely become a crowd favorite.

Gary Hobbs, David Marez, Joe Posada – Onda Chicana big band, La 45 (produced by Mike Torres, III and John Ontiveros) back up three vocal legends of la Onda Tejana on this Hector Gutierrez-penned tune, Querida. Each voice has its own quality that, when put together, creates something special. The only question: Where’s the rest of the album and tour? And, yes, Posada provides some excellent sax riffs and solos.

Shelly Lares – What is said to be her final album as she heads into retirement, LMD82 celebrates Lares’ 40 years in La Onda Tejana. Little Miss Dynamite explodes with some horn-driven rancheras and cumbias. Salsipuedes spent most of the pandemic earning airplay, as well as Por Amor. Enamorada, though, seems to be my fave. The album offers up multiple samples of her genre-defying versatility, including a duet with David Marez (Mi Persona Favorita) and a quartet, the mariachi-backed, Nada De Ti, featuring Lares and up and coming female vocalists, Sonja de la Paz, Monica Saldivar, and Demmi Garcia. The newest trio-version of Mil Besos is a treat, too. In conclusion, Don’t Retire Shelly!

All of these are available on all platforms, but give a musician a lift and buy the tunes!

Code Orange = Strong Encouragement, Unfortunately

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo elevated the county’s COVID-19 code to ORANGE as hospitals address a significant spike in cases. Orange means “minimize all contacts unless fully vaccinated,” but is that even enough, now?

As I stated previously, I felt uneasy about the Biden/CDC’s unmasking of the vaccinated. Things just looked too comfortable and it certainly didn’t encourage those who needed to mask. Maskholes are still maskholes and I didn’t feel society should be rewarded, yet.

Maybe I preferred the visual of people acting responsibly, rather than the one of unmasked mass (and smaller) events leaving me to wonder what the vaccination rate was in the room. Thankfully, Judge Hidalgo called for masking to return.

Hidalgo said by not wearing masks, even those who are vaccinated are “normalizing” not wearing masks for those who are unvaccinated. She also reminded the vaccinated they can still spread the virus to the unvaccinated, who can get sicker from the virus.

KHOU 7.23.2021

That last line may have been a mild reference to breakthrough cases.

Another unfortunate matter is the fact that all the elevated code does is allow Judge Hidalgo and other leaders to strongly encourage good behavior rather than mandating it, thanks to Greg Abbott’s lack of compassion. Re-opening with little to no precautionary guidance is what has taken us backwards. Schools are reopening soon, and some universities are already open as students get ready to return, and Abbott is allowing bad behavior to exist–no masking, light encouragement of vaccinations if one chooses, etc. These education systems have a responsibility to practice good behavior despite having a crappy leader.

Although right-wing misinformation clearly exists on the airwaves, I found it encouraging to suddenly see more people in my area of town masking and acting responsibly, at stores and even while walking outdoors. Although it was just a tiny moment and area, I hope it continues all over.

As Kuff mentions in his post about the color code change, COVID-19 testing may become an issue as testing has been scaled down. It became pretty obvious to me when I saw an actual line of walk-up clients at a tiny testing temporary building (think 8×8 converted container) in front of the Aldi on Westheimer.

Anyway, mask-up, wash hands, stay vigilant. And tell your unvax’d people to get vax’d or you’re cutting them off.