Category Archives: Accion

It’s Election 2017 Season! [Alief ISD Edition]

Well, it’s that time again–2017’s election season. Believe it or not, you have lots to vote on, whether it is amendments to the Texas Constitution, local school and college elections, and even some big bonds. This first post on the 2017 elections, I’ll talk about Alief ISD. One thing is for sure, one has to love the diversity on the ballot in all the races.

ALIEF ISD

With various district races for Houston ISD school board leading the local excitement, I’m lucky to live in Alief ISD. There’s four races in that one and I get to vote in everyone of them since we don’t have single member districts. I’m still trying to get to know the candidates on the ballot since they rarely attempt to get to know us inside of the beltway (I’m only a block away from Houston ISD).

Position 4 is a race to fill a vacancy left by the untimely passing of Dedre Jefferson. Darlene Breaux and Jesus Zamora are in the running.

Position 5 has G. “John” Nguyen and Donald Murphy Guillory in a race to replace Nhi T. Ho.

Position 6 has Jennifer Key and Anton Dowls in a race to replace Sarah Winkler.

And Position 7 has Soren Velarde, Natasha Butler, and Janet Spurlock in a race to replace Tiffany Thomas.

I’ll be studying the candidates more, although by the looks of some who are DACA supporters or progressive-minded on other issues, some may be easier to choose than others.

If you’re an ALIEF ISD voter, click on the links for each candidate, get to know them, and contact them with questions. They answer to you!

Voter registration ends on October 10. Early voting is October 23 thru November 3, so, click on the link to find your nearest early voting center. Election Day is November 7, so you can find your location and print your ballot at this site.

 

 

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Save The Date: 10/16/17 – Rev. Barry Lynn in Houston

 
Join the Houston Chapter
of
 
Americans United for Separation of Church and State
 
As We Honor the 25 Years of Leadership
of
  The Reverend Barry W. Lynn
 Ordained Minister, Lawyer, Author
 
And Celebrate the 
70th anniversary of Americans United
 
 
“Americans United–
Past, Present and Future”
 
Monday, October 16, 2017
7:30 p.m. 
Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church
 
Free and open to the public       Plenty of free parking

Reception following program

Just Another DACA Tease?

There was so much excitement after the announcement by Pelosi and Schumer that they had somehow forged an “agreement” with Trump on making DACA the law of the land.

Me? Well, I was immediately cynical.

First of all, the “agreement” was only announced by the Dems. Secondly, it included “massive border security” notions, which, when left unexplained makes one think of National Guard troops on the border, or worse, Trump supporters in ill-fitting fatigues and with even bigger guns than the Guard. Without any real explanation, it’s hard to get excited. Of course, the “no wall” provision really excited the progressives. It made me even more cynical.

It didn’t take long for the Trump administration to tamp down the excitement with a strong push for “massive border security” before (emphasis on BEFORE) anything looking like DACA was discussed. Paul Ryan announced a ridiculous program based on hate, today. Of course, me seeing Schumer involved only made me remember his love for the private prison lobby and their money. Again, cynical.

Basically, the Democrats went in trying to save 800,000 young people in exchange for “massive border security.” Did the Democrats, again, go into a negotiation offering Trump the most for the least? You know, because we’re only talking about humans, here.

Remember, Obama did this when he negotiated “comprehensive immigration reform” and started with a mass deportation program to convince the other side that Dems were tough. A deporation program whose removal records Trump and his ilk want to break in stellar fashion. Over 2,000,000, including a vast many who had not committed any deportable offenses, would never be enough for Republicans. So “massive border security” will win us 800,000?

The problem with starting a negotiation with the least you can get is that the other side will cut it down, or demand “massive border security.” And as Trump reminds his supporters, the wall will come, anyway. While Trump plays politics in his way, the Democrats don’t seem to be standing up to him on this issue.

Soon after Trump ended DACA, I read a lot of Facebook whitesplaining telling immigrant advocates not to ask for more than what DACA offered. No consideration for the parents of DREAMERS. Or any of the other 10 million migrants. Avoiding any conversation about the entirety of the situation, including a broken system and corrupt human warehousing (private prison) program. Let’s just go with what we can win, they said. And, apparently, in exchange for “massive border security.”

My favorite advocates at United We Dream in DC aren’t too happy with the supposed DACADeal. From the beginning of this newest push for a DREAM Act, this group has been calling for the passage of a clean DREAM Act, and not one chock full of “massive border security” waste. They “disagree with the premise that one group of immigrants shound endure more pain for another group to get rights and protections.” I was hoping the Dems had noticed and followed their lead.

Thus far, Democrats aren’t listening. And Trump goes merrily along in his own evil way.

 

No Politics in Disasters? ¡Por Favor!

It’s been said that there are no politics when disaster strikes. But there sure seems to be politics in creating a disaster. For example, Trump’s rescission of DACA.

There’s a lot of talk about its effects on the economy, on schools, and communities. Oh, yeah, there’s also that separation of families thing that no one seems to talk about. ¡

And talk of family unity is avoided when discussing any new “DREAM” act that will be considered. It’s all about the 800,000 DACA kids, but what about their parents? You know, the original DREAMers who wanted a better life and are somehow faulted for “breaking the law” by both sides of the aisle in the current narrative. Yes, I’m concerned about an entire immigration system continuing in its disastrous state, but we gotta start somewhere, I guess.

I don’t care if it’s a hurricane or inhumanity by man, politics exists in everything. Hell, if you signed online petitions to honor a right-winger-turned-humanitarian with a day at city hall, or you want to name a highway that floods all the time after a humanitarian football star who raised $20 million for flood victims, well, congrats, you just got involved in politics. So, maybe it’s time for something meaningful?

Since Trump has punted to Congress on this, the DREAM Act of 2017 is now in conversations. And about how there is bipartisan support for DACA amongst the voters. But what about the people the voters elected?

Back in 2010, and I’ll always remind you, when Democrats were in charge of the White House, the Senate, and the House, we came up short in the vote. Specifially, in the US Senate. 60 votes were needed to support the DREAM Act of 2010, but a 55-41 vote killed it. And I will also remind you that five Democrats voted against, while three (3) Republicans voted for it. (I guess this counts for bipartisan?) And one Democrat, an announced NO vote, didn’t bother to show up.

So, of the five “NO” Democrats, four now go by the title of “former” US Senator (Hagan, Baucus, Pryor, and Nelson). Left are the beloved by lib-labs Jon Tester of Montana and Joe Manchin (the NO no-show). Has anyone checked on these guys as they check to see how many Republican votes are needed?

So, I’ll be asked why I don’t just criticize the Republicans. Well, hell, I’ve been anti-Republican all of my life, as were my parents, and their parents. I know what to expect from Republicans. In the peak of my most recent Democratic involvement, unfortunately, I spent more time fighting with Democratic apologists for anti-immigrant Dems, or worse, Dems who used the issue for their political benefit, reminders of whom would cause some great Facebook fights.

2.5 million deportations, hundreds of thousands warehoused in private prisons, millions of families affected, and a continued broken immigration system later, nothing has changed. And it’s really tough to be hopeful under a meaner regime with their own majorities. But there’s always hope, right?

Which is why this next fight should be led by the DACA/DREAMer activists themselves. Not the corporate-funded national Latino and immigration groups, not Democratic groups, not Mark Zuckerberg, or any 2020 hopefuls. The Activists. The same activists who called out President Obama for years, who pressured him to finally sign the DACA order after he denied he could for so long. The same activists who fought in 2010 and the ones coming up the leadership pipeline since then. The ones who fought for what was right, and not for political expediency. And the rest of us should follow, fund, and support them.

PS – My last post on the topic, I mentioned that Republicans would remind us that President Obama had failed to pass the DREAM Act in 2010. Well, guess who reminded us?

Update:  Kuff doesn’t like what’s going on, either.

 

Houston Food Bank Food and Resource Fairs – Various Locations

Beginning September 5, 2017, Houston Food Bank and South Texas Dental will be hosting Food and Resource Fairs across the Houston area to assist those affected by Harvey.

Click on image to enlarge:

SB4 Racial Profiling Law Temporarily Blocked

This is great news, even if it is temporary.

During a stressful time of natural disaster in which people have lost homes, cars, property and have had their livelihood threatened, the added stress of having a racist racial profiling law that targets brown people hanging over them is at the very least stopped while it goes through further review.

The judge found that certain provisions of SB 4 conflict with, and are pre-empted by, federal law because enforcing SB 4 will interfere with the federal government’s authority to control immigration. The judge also found that enforcing SB 4 will result in First Amendment violations.

The judge also determined that vague prohibitions in SB 4 violate due process and “create a real danger of arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement.”

In addition, he found that enforcement of the mandatory detainer provisions “will inevitably lead to Fourth Amendment violations.”

SB4 was to go into effect on September 1, 2017. Now, Federal Judge Orlando Garcia will likely set a date for a hearing to determine its constitutionality. Obviously, we await a response from Abbott and his Republican cohorts who supported this bigoted bill.

Even before the remnants of Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, there was worry in the air as thousands were expected to end up in temporary shelters run by local, state, and federal authorities. Soon, there were rumors that people would be asked their immigration status to receive even the simplest disaster assistance–shelter, food, medical. Mayor Sylvester Turner offered some relief in stating that Houston’s doors were open to anybody in need. Still, a targeted community was stressed.

Thanks to ACLU, MALDEF, the lawyers, the witnesses, the activists, and the cities who joined the challenge. Obviously, this is not over and continued attention and activism must continue to ensure this bigoted law is finally defeated. This is definitely a welcome first step.

MALDEF provided the following FAQ on the decision (click image to enlarge).

maldefsb4

UPDATE:  Republican governor Greg Abbott will continue his defense of this bigoted law.

“U.S. Supreme Court precedent for laws similar to Texas’ law are firmly on our side,” Abbott said in a statement. “This decision will be appealed immediately and I am confident Texas’ law will be found constitutional and ultimately be upheld.”

 

Post-Harvey Disaster Relief

There are are a lot organizations to which to donate for disaster relief. Kuff’s got a great list.

I’ll mention two:

Houston Food Bank will be helping people through the relief efforts and helping people get back on their feet once they are beyond the shelter experience. So, donate here to give to the Houston Food Bank. They know how to stretch a dollar and make sure people in need are fed.

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Harris County Attorney Files Brief Against SB4

As was reported last week, the Republicans on the Harris County Commissioner’s Court may have chickened out of joining the SB4 lawsuit, in what may have been a pre-emptive move to avoid getting on Greg Abbott’s “list,” but it didn’t stop County Attorney Vince Ryan from submitting a brief to the federal court asking for a stop to any implementation of the racial profiling, anti-immigrant law.

Ryan makes the case that SB4 affects children his office represents.

The Harris County Attorney’s office, objects to the law for the following reasons:

The office represents the state Department of Family Protective Services in child protection cases, advocating for children’s best interests and the preservation of families — irreconcilable with the thrust of SB4, which is to “to cooperate in efforts which will lead tothe deportation of parents or kinship caregivers, the separation of families, and further trauma to children,” according to the brief.

Federal mandates require that assistance and benefits should be available to children and families “irrespective of their immigration status,” according to the brief. State law also directs that “the provision of the services necessary to give effect to children’s best interests are not conditioned on their, or their parents’, immigration status,” according to the brief.

Ryan states: “Any county attorney who declines to engage with assisting in the enforcement of immigration laws or discourages colleagues from doing so in order to advocate for the best interest of the child and promote family unification — as child welfare laws mandate — would not be “providing enforcement assistance” and would be “adopt[ing], enforce[ing], or endors[ing] a policy” or engaging in a “pattern or practice” that “materially limits the enforcement of immigration laws.””

Children of parents or family members who have been deported will be placed in an overburdened and potentially harmful foster care system.

Immigrant communities will fear cooperation and will not report abuse or neglect or provide information to authorities seeking to protect children.

SB4 will leave a huge swath of the community affected in one way or another. Whether one sees it as a legalized racial profiling law that targets anyone of color to be asked their immigration status, or a license for local cops to shirk their crime-fighting duties in favor doing some immigrant hunting, or in the case of the County Attorney, a law that will affect children caught up in their own brand of hell, it’s just a bad law.

“S.B. 4 will do irreparable damage to this State’s child welfare process, place county attorneys charged with representing DFPS in an irreconcilable conflict, and do further trauma to children who have been placed in the State’s care. Further, there is no legitimate state purpose in treating children who have an unauthorized immigrant parent or other potential care giver differently in child welfare cases,” states Ryan’s brief, which was filed this month in federal court.

In other news, the City of Laredo has joined the SB4 lawsuit. In fact, their City Council voted unanimously to join it. Now, that’s what I call a “welcoming city.”

 

 

 

 

Houston Area Senators Urge Harris County on SB4 Lawsuit; To Be Considered on July 11

From the inbox:

(Houston, Texas) The Harris County Commissioners Court is set to consider joining the lawsuit against Senate Bill 4 at their meeting tomorrow, July 11th at 10am. Senators John Whitmire, Sylvia R. Garcia and Borris Miles issued a joint letter urging commissioners to vote in favor of joining with counties and municipalities across Texas in suing the State of Texas over the controversial legislation.

The 85th Legislature passed Senate Bill 4 (SB 4), the “show-me-your-papers” law, scheduled to take effect on September 1, 2017. We were extremely disappointed to see the state’s leadership endorse legislation that strips local control from Harris County, incentivizes racial profiling, and makes our communities less safe.

SB 4 contains numerous provisions that simply cannot be allowed to take effect. SB 4 would prevent local law enforcement leaders from setting their own policies to work with the communities under their jurisdiction. It would further allow individual law enforcement officers to decide on their own whether and how to question individuals about their immigration status, creating a troubling path to unchecked racial profiling. This will have a chilling effect on crime reporting in vulnerable neighborhoods, and make our community less safe.”

Senator Garcia will personally attend the meeting to testify in support of litigation. The agenda item has been brought up by County Commissioner of Precinct 1, Rodney Ellis. The full letter can be read here.

Houston-area State Reps have also sent a letter urging the County to join the SB4 lawsuit. A federal court hearing was already held in late June; however, there was no immediate ruling. So, let’s stay tuned.

 

Local TX House Delegation Asks Harris Co to Join SB4 Lawsuit

A group of Houston Texas House members has penned a letter to the Harris County Commissioner’s Court requesting they join the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of SB4–the “Show Me Your Papers” racial profiling law signed by Greg Abbott.

Texas House members include:  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, and Gene Wu.

Pointing to various constitutional flaws in the law, the group also made a case for the lawsuit citing the law’s threat to public safety:

With the fifth largest foreign born population in the country, Harris County is especially at risk. All people in the community must feel safe and free to report crime and call law enforcement when necessary, without the fear of the same law enforcement asking for their papers. The provisions of SB4 will diminish trust and chill the reporting of crime, making our county less safe.

The letter further states the constitutional liability the county could face for unlawfully detaining individuals without warrant or probably cause.

Already, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, and the tiny town of El Cenizo, along with Bexar, El Paso, and Maverick counties have joined the lawsuit. Efforts have increased to add more parties to the lawsuit, including Brownsville, Pasadena, and other Texas communities.

For the latest on the lawsuit, head over to MALDEF’s twitter feed for the latest arguments being made by the good guys and the bad guys at the federal court hearing in San Antonio.

Thanks to the office of State Representative Armando Walle for keeping us informed and for their work on these efforts. [copy of letter below]

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