Category Archives: Cultura

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.

Now, It’s About Personal Responsibility

“We’re past the time of government mandates, we’re into the time for personal responsibility, and that’s exactly what we will do,” said, Greg Abbott, the governor who didn’t mandate much of anything during the pandemic and helped cause over 50,000 COVID-19 deaths in Texas

Or, as Kuff starkly reminds everyone, “You’re on your own.”

Greg Abbott will not be mandating mask-wearing, not even for the least vaccinate–school kids.

“Everyone has had more than a year to master all the safe strategies that they can choose what’s best for them and their family members,” said the governor who has seldom encouraged safe strategies, particularly at all his campaign-like press conferences.

Meanwhile, the medical experts are predicting a fourth COVID-19 surge. More than half the state is unvaccinated because Greg Abbott reminds everyone that it’s their right to not get it. And it seems personal responsibility is the last thing on people’s minds as they are everywhere unmasked and in mass gatherings.

That’s today’s update on Texas government ineptitude.

And Then There Was Lambda

All the COVID-19 numbers in Houston, Texas, and the US are doing more than “trending in the wrong direction.” They are on the verge of…something. And, now, the Lambda variant is in Houston, because the Delta variant and COVID-classic just isn’t enough. And, yes, the vast majority are people who did not get vaccinated. But…

According to a CDC report, there have already been over 5,000 breakthrough cases around the country; meaning, the fully vaccinated. And due credit is given to having taken the vaccine by those who are only experiencing mild symptoms and not dying, but I’m of the opinion that the Biden/CDC should have split the difference on the guidelines by including a strong suggestion (if not mandate) for mask-wearing indoors, even if vaccinated. The suggestion that the vax’d could go anywhere unmasked just seemed too soon and politically motivated, in my opinion.

…the agency reported 5,492 patients nationwide with COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough infections had been hospitalized or died. According to the CDC, 75% of those patients were 65 or older and 19% of the cases resulted in death.

KHOU

Some will say that this is a tiny fraction of Americans, but that has been the Trumpian response to the entire pandemic. So, let’s just say I don’t get the warm and fuzzies when my side of the aisle says it either.

So, if you’re vaccinated, jump into a big crowd while unmasked, and get infected (with mild symptoms), you may end up infecting other unmasked, yet vaccinated, elderly folks in your family. Just food for thought while you attend unmasked concerts, social club parties, etc. Some may call me alarmist, but I’m just trying my damnest not to get sick of anything. Plus the docs and medical staff on TV are looking pretty worried and that’s always been an indication of things when leaders are avoiding reality.

Others affected and among those who died include those who are immunocompromised because of cancer, transplant, or autoimmune disease. I’ve already mentioned the need for boosters for this particular group of Americans. I wish there was more information on antibody testing to see if the first two (or one) shots took, on how to obtain a booster, and just plain ol’ information to reach this group for their own safety as it is estimated that they make up 3% of the population (probably more). It seems like the CDC is finally beginning to “consider” boosters for this group. For immunocompromised folks who have been informed and proactive, they are way ahead of the CDC and have had to go through hoops to get a booster after finding out the original shots didn’t take. If you’re among them, I’d suggest you get some advice from your specialist.

That’s OK, though, we’re offering prizes to convince the unvaccinated to get a shot. Apologies for the snark, but I’m really bothered by some stat I read that says 2/3 of the unvaccinated are anti-vax maskholes.

The latest Texas numbers show an increase in the weekly average of vaccinations. That’s good. Unfortunately, test positivity is above 10% statewide, and hospitalizations have also increased. While July 4 weekend has been cited as a cause for the latest numbers, one only has to see the nonchalant attitude of workplaces, grocery and big box stores, and entertainment venues to get an idea of what is to come.

At this point, I wish our leaders would add a push for mask wearing to the push for vaccination. “You won’t die” doesn’t help much, even if our Texas Lege heroes who are trying to save our democracy in DC are pushing that narrative after at least five of them contracted COVID-19. As proud of them as I have been, every unmasked selfie and crowded group photo sent a chill down my spine to the point where I am not surprised the infections happened. The last few pics some have posted have included masks, though.

Here’s hoping vaccinations continue to increase as we head toward schools reopening, too. The 12 to adult group is still lagging.

As always, if you’re within a big group of people, mask-up, distance, keep clean, etc. You all know the drill. At least I hope you haven’t forgotten as you have vaccinated, unmasked fun.

Dan Crenshaw Attempted to Register My Late Mom To Vote

It could be voter fraud, or else, it’s just crappy staff work at various levels, but Dan Crenshaw (and his minions) attempted to register my mother to vote. Yes, my mother, Flo, who passed away in 2016.

I received a text message on my cell phone from Dan Crenshaw whining to my mom, Florencia, about the border under Joe Biden and asking for my mom’s help. Then, he says the Texas Secretary of State’s records show she isn’t registered to vote and offered to register her, even mentioning the street where she lived. Creepy!

Here are some facts about Flo:

  1. Flo passed away five years ago, which is the ONLY reason she is not registered to vote.
  2. Flo was a staunch Democrat all of her life, voting in all of the primaries, except that time in the 70s when she was a member of La Raza Unida Party.
  3. Flo was a Pro-Choice Chicana, mother of two daughters and a son, who enjoyed sipping champagne at the Planned Parenthood Luncheon VIP suite, while raising money to provide low-income women and men with health care and reproductive health services. She also supported pro-choice candidates and helped raise money for many by making tortillas for fundraisers.
  4. Flo and my Pop owned a business across the street from a major railroad route in which many undocumented folks would walk toward San Antonio and beyond, while escaping poverty and violence in their own countries. My parents would offer food and water and even clothing to them, which is something republicans have threatened to jail Americans for recently.
  5. Flo and my Pop were proud voters who would show up early in the morning to have their voice heard at the ballot box and would vote for anyone who didn’t have Dan Crenshaw’s bigoted views toward immigrants, people of color, women, LGBTQ+, etc. They wouldn’t appreciate Crenshaw’s lies about voting rights, either.
  6. Flo resided in Congressional District 7 and not 2.

It is quite insulting that anyone would assume that Florencia Serna Medellin would ever be unregistered to vote while alive; vote republican (based on her primary record); or ever be an anti-immigrant zealot, given her love of humanity, papers or not. To think that a Greg Abbott-run state agency might still be selling her information (or making it available) for voter registration purposes is just plain alarming, considering the GOPs daily whine of voter fraud. Five years later, one would figure that her name would not even be on any databases for this purpose.

Needless to say, Crenshaw and fellow right-wingers had no clue whatsoever about Flo, the South Texas-born, former migrant farmworker, small-town-mom turned suburban Abuela who advocated for all. It would seem Crenshaw just wants any random bigots he can find–even dead ones–and texts random unregistered people whining about immigrants to capture their support. So republican.

Flo would have been pretty upset to think that she might be on the call/text list of any right-wing, bigoted, republican campaign or organization. Dan Crenshaw is full of BS, misinformation, and lies. And Flo was an informed voter who would have known about Crenshaw, and would have done what I did: Replied STOP. And then would have told the world how she feels about Dan Crenshaw and bigoted republicans.

We miss you, Flo! ¡La Lucha Sigue! And, #FloTheVote

Note: After Mom passed away in 2016, we did our due diligence and cancelled her registration. I received confirmation from the local elections office today of this fact. Why Texas SOS still has her info (according to Crenshaw) is beyond me.

Note #2: I received a message from a fellow Dem activist who also received the text about being unregistered. But he’s actually registered. Damn, Crenshaw! Get with the program or else you’ll actually commit voter fraud!

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Texas Dem Primary Season Starts Early

As I notice more FB friend and LIKE requests from prospective candidates, it’s hard to avoid the fact that our Democratic primaries will be more competitive locally and at the state level. I know, we’re still waiting for Beto to announce, but campaigns are launching.

The race for the Dem nomination for Texas Attorney General got a little interesting.

I’ve known Joe Jaworski for a long time and am excited that he is doing all the right things to win a primary and general: Traveling the state of Texas, visiting clubs and activists. On top of him being a top-notch lawyer who fights for his clients, he also has a good track record as an involved Democrat. Jaworski has been attacking current AG Ken Paxton’s indictments and his actions as AG on an almost daily basis.

Now, Civil Rights lawyer Lee Merritt has entered the race. It was hinted and expected, but the grand entrance into the race did not happen until Democrats walked out of the Abbott’s special session. And Merritt used the opportunity to tell some truths about how the current Attorney General is running things in regards to voter rights and criminal justice reform.

Merritt stated in a tweet that he has “seen the generational impact of the prison-industrial complex and the injustice of mass incarceration up close in my own family. I’ve spent my legal career helping families who are unjustly affected by this broken system. Now I’m running for Texas Attorney General to make some real changes.”

No doubt, Merritt will also say all the right things, but with a force that comes with the experience of being directly affected by Republican policies. An experience felt by many in Texas who continually feel ignored. And that’s great! It’s a message that needs to be heard across the state and I hope he takes it South Texas.

On the other hand, Jaworski has already spent time building relationships all over Texas. Very few candidates have been successful in a statewide race while not making South Texas a part of their Primary win strategy. It will be interesting to see how their strategies unfold going forward.

The Delta Variant Is Real

As I see certain local groups having unmasked mass events and Tejano music concerts filling up venues, I wonder: What’s the vaccination rate in the room?

For me, vaccination has not affected my mask-wearing as much. I still wear it while at the store or at places with a lot of people. Even during a ride on the trails when humans would mass up in certain areas, the mask gets pulled up. Given Harris County’s 50% fully vax’d rate, I’m not too trusting of anyone who gets in front of me.

The other day, I sort of left my guard down when I was at a restaurant (my first time) for a quick lunch during a med center area visit and actually removed my mask to eat. It was 30 minutes of nervous chewing and wondering if the maskless coming in the door were vax’d or anti-vax maskholes.

Obviously, I took the original COVID-19 seriously from the get-go. Even stocking up on Elderberry gummies to maybe pump up my immune system while waiting for my shot. After vaccination, I’ve still been careful, I’m still exercising, and other than the restaurant visit, still cooking at home. But the Delta variant has me nervous. And back on elderberry gummies.

While the government worries about vaxxing the unvax’d door-to-door (Biden wants to vaccinate people; Republicans want more death), I wonderered how being around those fools (those that choose unvax/unmasked life) would affect me, the vax’d one. Well, I’ve always known that the COVID-19 vaccine was not made to make one immune as much as it was made to reduce chances of hospitalization and death. So, the vaccinated can still get infected, though, the effects may not be as bad. Maybe. Bottom line: I don’t want it and the only way to reduce my chances of getting it is mass vaccination. Yes, even door-to-door to reach those with no access to vaccines. The idiots who whine and moan about masks and shots? They’re a lost cause and I still walk around them at the stores and in life.

So, I’m still not attending large, unmasked events. Even to Democratic Party events whose members seem to have a higher vaccination rate than most other groups. As the majority of people are going back to the office and vaccination rates stall, we cannot let our guard down. Mask up at work–even if your boss is walking around as if invincible. Alas, even the Biden administration’s rush to re-open has convinced many more that they are now invincible, if vaccinated.

Meanwhile, Pfizer and Moderna are now calling for vaccine booster shots for those who have already been vaccinated because of the increase in Delta variant cases and how fast it spreads. And because the effectiveness of the shots wanes after time passes. Sure, you may avoid hospitalization and death, but, again, you can still get infected and spread it to the unvax’d and others. The CDC (and Biden’s) nonchalant attitude toward this call for boosters worries me. Sure, they have the unvax’d to worry about, still, but some of us who were so responsible that we were online for hours searching for vaccines early on wouldn’t mind a boost.

And, don’t even get me started on folks who are immunocompromised, some who are already on a hard-to-get booster with hopes that its effectiveness lasts. There is a segment of the US population that lives in fear, but we don’t hear much about them from anyone at any level of government.

Anyway, I’m still masking. I’m still distancing. And I’m still playing it safe and avoiding large crowds, especially anti-vax maskholes.

Abbott and His White Supremacist Agenda

Yeah, I said it. Democrats need to call it what it is. In the legislature and on the campaign trail.

Greg Abbott has called a wasteful special session and his agenda is one that pushes white supremacist policies. Call it his announcement for 2024, call it an attack on democracy, or call it whatever you want to call it, the truth is that his agenda targets Black and Brown Texans.

Let’s go one by one.

Bail Reform – The republican way of achieving bail reform is by keeping the accused in jail by way of exorbitant bonds. The vast majority of folks in our jails are accused, not convicted, and cannot afford bail. There have been local movements to reform the bail system to ensure the accused can be released while ensuring they show up for court and republicans have found a way to blame it for the increase in crime, instead of alleviating root causes (poverty, infrastructure, institutional racist practices). Abbott will keep the jails full, thus punishing the accused while they await trial. And who is in our jails that cannot afford to bond out? Black and Brown folks.

Election Integrity – Abbott and republicans continue the Trump lie that there is rampant election fraud. The problem is that Abbott and republicans do not like the fact that Democrats have opened up access to voting for neighborhoods that are predominantly Black and Brown. Neighborhoods and people whose voting rights have historically been violated. Drive-thru voting, ballot by mail, 24-hour voting, voting access for the disabled are all targeted by Abbott and republicans after having achieved some success in 2020. Instead of being thankful for political participation by more Texans, they would rather make up lies about voter fraud and block people from voting. There is no fraud. Republicans just don’t want Black, Brown, Women, the poor, and the disabled to vote. Texas Dems walked out on SB7 at the end of the session for these reasons. And the republicans have not fixed the “typos” they put into SB7.

Border Security – Abbott is trying to be neo-Trumpian as he wants to continue building a GoFundMe border wall, turn badly run state prisons into immigrant warehouses, and continue his wasteful spending which bloats the Department of Public Safety and sheriff’s departments for the purpose of hunting Brown people, while getting away from actual crime fighting. He’ll blame immigrants who are escaping poverty and violence for the crimes of smugglers and those who exploit them, instead of demanding a better asylum and immigration system. Abbott and republicans are finding any way to further exploit Brown people for political gain.

Social Media Censorship – Abbott and his republican minions want the right to lie to the public and for his supporters to disseminate the lies without any kind of accountability. The republicans have always spread lies about crime rates, “criminal immigrants,” voter fraud, and about any program that actually helps people as a means of earning votes. They make the Black and Brown people the source of blame. They don’t want to be called out by private companies for spreading such lies through their social media platforms. They prefer a constant state of chaos devoid of truth or fact. It is people like Abbott and the republicans who caused the January 6 attack on our government, and they want the ability to continue supporting such actions.

“Youth Sports” – It’s just a nice way of saying they want to ban trans kids from playing team sports with those with whom they identify. It is child abuse and Abbott and the republicans want to legalize this discrimination. They are not protecting anyone with such an awful, bigoted proposed law. They are leaving these children vulnerable to legalized abuse in their own communities and schools. I’d say it has been their goal all along.

Critical Race Theory – Chicano and African American scholars and academicians have provided a rich and well-researched History of Texas (way before the Alamo book that offended racists (Dan Patrick) recently) that most of the time will provide a broader view to the narrow, hero-worshipping indoctrination that is forced upon Texas children. There are various truths that have historically gone avoided, and at times, have been embellished to make Texas seem as something it is not. Greg Abbott and republicans want a whites-only approach to Texas and US History because that is what they have always promoted, and they certainly do not want a history of Texas taught that will teach Texans the reasons for republican public policy. The less Texans know the truth, the better it is for Abbott and republicans to get away with their lies.

The republicans have the majority to pass these bigoted laws. But for Greg Abbott to sell white supremacy as putting “the people of Texas first and [to] keep the Lone Star State on a path to prosperity” is an insult to our intelligence. We know what he and his minions are doing. It is emboldened institutional racism wielding its power over Black and Brown people, as well as Women and LGBTQ+ Texans. They don’t even care that the electric grid is ready to collapse and that Texans are in need of Medicaid expansion. They know exactly who they are targeting with this wasteful special session.

Texans have a choice. Unfortunately, Texans have had this choice ever since the republican majority came to be and even the moderates have chosen bigotry all of these years. It is time to recognize the racism of republican policies, stop making excuses, and rid Texas of this republican majority.

Tejano Music Podcasts to Follow

One way to piss me off is telling me that the Tejano music genre is dying. Corporatism tried to give it a knockout punch after exploiting it during the 90s, no doubt, but failed. The Made-in-Texas music genre is alive and thriving on its own. And folks within the industry are talking about it.

My FB friend, Rebecca Valadez, known for her touring work providing background vocals for Janet Jackson and the iterations of Grupo Mazz, as well as an impressive solo career, has taken on a couple of projects. One is her own podcast, which has featured some Tex-Mex greats, as well as folks working in other aspects of our culture. A most informative podcast featured Grammy winning producer Gilbert Velasquez who had a lot to say regarding the future of the genre.

The other podcast is Gibby’s Tejano Round Table, which is hosted by Valadez and Velasquez and brings together a round table of influential folks in the Tejano music genre to discuss the state of Tejano Music, including terrestrial and internet DJs, producers, musicians, and even social media influencers who are keeping the genre alive and kicking.

These are discussions that must be had in other than private surroundings and Valadez and Velasquez are doing the industry a huge favor by putting these discussions out in the open, not just for those who make a living in the industry, but also for the folks who buy the records and attend the dances and concerts. These discussions go beyond entertainer interviews, like those of my favorite Tejano podcast, Behind the Mic with AC Cruz, but they are still pretty entertaining.

One more to add to the list is MARCed Up Live with Marc Martinez. Marc is an accomplished musician who played with legends Joe Posada and Emilio Navaira. His podcast/online show features music and health discussions one might enjoy.

So, for those who want a more in-depth discussion on the Tejano music genre, follow these podcasts mentioned above. There is a lot of music to be heard and enjoyed. And there is a lot of cultura to preserve.

May 22: SAs Tejano Conjunto Fest Goes Virtual

We’ll I don’t expect to go to live concerts any time soon, so, mil thank yous to The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center’s Tejano Conjunto Festival for going virtual. $15 is a great price for all of that music and the play, Conjunto Blues, by Nicolas Valdez.

From the inbox:

San Antonio, TX – A virtual 39th Annual Tejano Conjunto Festival concert will be streamed Saturday, May 22, 2021 from 7pm to 12am from the historic Guadalupe Theater in San Antonio. This annual festival is the first and longest-running Conjunto Festival in the country and is widely recognized as the most influential event for this critical Texas musical tradition. Reflecting the demands of social distancing because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 39th Annual Tejano Conjunto Festival in 2021 will be a live-streamed music event accessible around the world. 

BUY TICKETS HERE

 “The Tejano Conjunto festival is a beloved yearly event that brings together the very best in conjunto music every year.  It is like a big family reunion!” says Cristina Ballí, Executive Director of the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center. “We love our fans and seeing all our old friends in the conjunto community at Rosedale, but since we can’t be in person we are happy to share puro conjunto with everyone around the world in this livestream. It will be a lot of fun and not to be missed!” 

The Tejano Conjunto Festival showcases the major performers and heritage award winners in one historic and widely anticipated event. It typically draws an enthusiastic audience of more than 10,000 fans, dancers, and musicians from across Texas and the United States, as well as Mexico, Europe, and Asia. The Festival usually encompasses five robust and influential days of live performances, dances, workshops, Hall of Fame inductions, and other events.  In 2021, the Guadalupe is pioneering a livestreamed format for the festival. 

BUY TICKETS HERE

A featured component of the virtual festival is the Friday night livestream of “Conjunto Blues,” a stage play written and performed by Nicolás R Valdez that was recently adapted for the screen in November of 2020 in collaboration with Teatro Vivo and the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center. The play will​ stream live on Friday, May 21, and will be followed by a Q&A session via Zoom with Valdez where viewers will be able to discuss Conjunto Music and its impact on Latino culture along with sharing their own personal stories and memories.  

On Saturday, May 22, Valdez will lead a virtual hour-long workshop reflecting on interviews and historical documentary footage he compiled. The topics will revolve around Conjunto’s campesino origins; its stylistic evolution; women and the recording industry; Pachucos and nightlife; and prominent figures in conjunto. “The focus of this work, for me, has always been to highlight the many contributions of the Mexican-American community to the cultural fabric of this country and to show audiences how Conjunto Music, an original and uniquely American form of musical expression, became the soundtrack for the 20th century Mexican-American working-class experience,” Valdez says. 

BUY TICKETS HERE

39th Annual Tejano Conjunto Festival Band Line-Up
7:00pm – 12:00 am
BUY TICKETS HERE

LO MEJOR DE TEJAS         

Flaco Jimenez   (w/ Los Texmaniacs)

Los Cucuys de Rodney Rodriguez    

Los 2 G’s

Los Morales Boys

Los Monarcas de Peter y Mario Diaz   

Eva Ybarra

 Boni Mauricio y Los Maximos with Special Guest Linda Escobar  

 Tony Tigre Saenz y La Rosa de Oro   

Sheriff Ed Goes To Washington?

First of all, congratulations to Sheriff Ed Gonzalez on his appointment by the Biden administration to the position of Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

I met Ed while he helped get Adrian Garcia elected Sheriff back in 2008 and then rooted him on when he ran for City Council District H to take over where Garcia left off. Intelligent, compassionate, and responsive are a few good words to describe him. All-around good guy is probably the better descriptor. Professionally, I’d expect him to do a great job in pretty much any capacity.

That said, ICE has had a lot of problems since way before Trump made it worse. It had problems during the Obama era, too. It is a relatively new agency created after the racism and bigotry that came about post-9/11. No one on either side in DC seems to want to get rid of ICE or the detention boondoggles that come from it. Reminder: While President Biden has banned private prisons in the Bureau of Prisons, he didn’t budge at all on immigrant warehousing and remains steadfast in warehousing children–just through another department.

Whether one points to ICE, or anything under ICE, like the Border Patrol, these agencies were created from racist sentiment and their practices are continually just as racist. It’s easy to say that structural change is needed, and that the culture of these agencies must be changed; however, no one person can do that without really taking a wrecking ball to the entire agency and creating something better. Simply changing a policy here and there will not rid the agency of its racist and corrupt practices. That’s why we say #AbolishICE.

Well, it is obvious that President Biden does not have this in the plan and Democrats are too damn squeamish to do anything about it. Unfortunately, that means Ed Gonzalez will be receive the brunt of criticism from both sides of the issue–those who desire change and compassion versus those who want to round-up and warehouse anyone brown or foreign with impunity and for profit. The centrists will argue for something in-between, but they aren’t the people who have been historically abused and targeted by ICE. The rest of us will just hope for the best and know that whatever happens, it is Joe Biden who is in charge.

And, with this said, a recent article regarding the Biden administration’s upcoming review of the extremist threat within Homeland Security (which includes ICE) gives some hope, as long as it is an honest and thorough assessment. Or, as DHS Secretary Mayorkas stated, “As we work to safeguard the nation and our values, we must be vigilant in our efforts to identify and combat domestic violent extremism within both the broader community and our own organization. Violent extremism has no place at DHS and we will work with urgency and focus to address it.”

Detention Watch Network said it best in regards to Gonzalez’s appointment:

“People uniting for the rights and dignity of immigrants will soon have a new face to direct demands to at ICE, which include:

  • Releasing people from immigration detention halting deportations (including Title 42 expulsions) amid the COVID-19 pandemic in the interest of the health of those detained and the public.  
  • Closing detention facilities, including immediately ending all contracts with private prison corporations and state and local governments as a first step towards ending the harmful detention system entirely.
  • Adopting generous prosecutorial discretion guidelines in order to protect as many people as possible from detention and deportation. 
  • Ending state and local entanglement with immigration enforcement, reducing the pipeline to detention and deportation.

“Under Gonzalez’s leadership, we are eager to see immediate shifts in ICE’s culture and operations. During the Trump era the agency saw a constant revolving door of short-lived, draconian leadership that double-downed on cruel and punitive enforcement practices. If confirmed, Gonzalez must hit the ground running to meet immigrant rights advocates’ demands and peel back the layers of secrecy that have created a deadly culture of impunity at the agency, where accountability is evaded at every turn.”

“And while we are looking for transformative culture change at ICE, we know that the racist underpinnings of ICE will continue regardless of who’s in charge.  Ultimately, ICE’s premise for existing is rooted in white supremacy, rendering the agency rotten to its core. ICE needs to be abolished.” 

Houston organizing group, FIEL, had this to say:

We have worked with Sheriff Gonzalez for a number of years and what we can attest to is the fact that he has been and continues to be a man who listens to and takes input from the community.  We understand that the role he is about to undertake is a huge and controversial role and we wish him well in this endeavour. However we have some things we would not like to see again such as massive raids, lack of prosecutorial discretion and continued separation of hard working families.  Some of the things that we hope to see in policy changes would be: 1. We would like a more just and uniform application of prosecutorial/administrative relief. 2. No more massive raids which send a shockwave of fear into our communities destroying community and government relations. 3. A definite end to the 287G program and Secure Communities which are policies that Sheriff Gonzalez understands hurt communities. 4. Treat people more humanely by suspending the use of ankle monitors for people who do not pose a flight risk. 5. Ending the ‘Collateral Damage’ policy when it comes to ICE enforcement in our communities. We are hopeful for a more positive future for ICE and at the end that we will see the agency’s power diminish as we move forward on immigration reform.

FIEL Press Release 4/27/2021

Obviously, when someone you know “makes it,” you can’t help but be excited for that person. ICE, though, is one of those agencies whose history reeks of hate, racism, corruption and more. While the leadership of the agency under Biden may say one thing, it is the rank and file and their bigoted Border Patrol union and associated groups that get more attention from the media and add to the bigotry already promoted by the Republican Party and white supremacists, thus roadblocking any change that is proposed. It is my hope that Director(-designate) Gonzalez is able to change the culture of the organization to one that is more compassionate in the realm of migration and that controls its messaging from the top. It is long past due that migrants be treated with compassion–in policy and rhetoric–rather than criminalized and hunted by the largest police force in the country.

Best of luck to Ed Gonzalez.