Category Archives: Democratic Stuff

Cops Who Shot Nicolas Chavez 21 Times No Billed

A grand jury no-billed four cops who killed Nicolas Chavez after shooting him 21 times. Chavez was in the midst of an emotional episode when the cops decided to shoot him for not following commands. The grand jury found no probable cause to charge the cops after evidence was presented by DA Kim Ogg’s office.

Add this to the non-prosecution of former HC Deputy Shauna Thompson in the choking murder of John Hernandez and Ogg’s losing record of prosecuting killer cops becomes even more significant. Add to this the fact that Thompson and these four killer cops are not only free to go, but free to be armed and badged again and we’re talking about a community that is endangered.

While then-Chief of Police Acevedo fired the officers, the fact that they were no-billed gives them the right to arbitration to get their jobs back. We are definitely keeping an eye on where these cops end up.

No doubt, our hearts are with the family of Nicolas Chavez as they must relive this tragedy once again. A lawsuit against HPD and the City was already dismissed.

There is an obvious imbalance of justice when the DA complains about judges and bond releases while killer cops are released back into society given the “OK” to do as they please.

There Is A Human Rights Crisis On The Border

While bigoted republicans call it an “invasion,” and others call it a humanitarian crisis, the next phase of a media-exploited “crisis” on the border went to full-on human rights crisis as a Border Patrol with lax regulations and bigoted members rode horses and whipped Haitian refugees as they rounded them up for President Biden’s Title 42 immediate deportations.

Honestly, though, it’s always been a human rights crisis. The Border Patrol and border-area law enforcement has a deeply rooted history of violently mistreating humans escaping violence and poverty–all for political purposes, no matter who is in power. And no matter who is power, the government does a great job of blaming “the other” for the crises it has caused in the countries people are fleeing. Whether it is Mexico, Central America, or Haiti, US foreign policy of befriending and funding right-wing zealots and their elections as a means of keeping indigenous and poor people in control is why these crises exist.

The problem is that the US thrives on people’s ignorance regarding foreign policy–no matter which party is in charge. The narrative of “the other” being the problem works as long as they use fear-based terminology. And people eat it up because they are ignorant and it’s not like candidates and office holders are doing much to combat the narrative.

As depressing as the stories are of migrants and refugees, it’s the stories of fighting back that have given me hope. Whether it is those who have crossed back into Mexico to find food and water for themselves, or the Haitians who revolted on a Biden deportation bus. Sure, they are met with violence by Biden’s Border Patrol, but they are willing to fight. They are that desperate for a better life and the US response of human warehousing, whipping, and horse-led round-ups is a global embarrassment, especially when our President attempts to lecture other countries, or he attempts to show how much better he is than Trump on global affairs.

And then there is that failure of a governor, Greg Abbott, who blames everything on Joe Biden. I don’t know why. Biden is deporting Haitians and other migrants at a rapid pace because of Trump’s Title 42. Biden’s Border Patrol is whipping people. All the republican anti-immigrant porn is available to Greg Abbott, but he wants to be the one calling the shots. The photo ops make it obvious.

And some will defend Biden by reminding us that Biden mouthpiece Jen Psaki called the human rights violations “obviously horrific” and the Biden administration is “investigating” and “condemning.” But Biden is the President. He can end this. And he can get rid of people in the Border Patrol. And he can change agency policy with a signature. Who’s in charge? Biden or the bigoted Border Patrol (and their union)?

There is an old photo of Texas Rangers having murdered Mexican men and dragged them by horse from around 1915. Now, we have the Border Patrol trying to repeat history. Yes, only 100 or so years ago and things don’t seem to change.

A Little Political History for Heritage Month

Here’s a video in 3 parts featuring Dr. Jose Angel Gutierrez (Professor Emeritus of History, UT Arlington) on Los Nuevos Americans–The New Americans. Given twelve years ago at Kingwood College, Gutierrez touched on the History of brown people in Texas and the US, political history, and population estimates. Given the new census, this a good foundation on where we’ve been and where we may be. And, given the attack on truth-telling regarding history (Critical Race Theory), it might be better to learn from brown scholars. And it might help you learn why the Trump era happened and why it must be stopped. Enjoy!

Abbott’s Border Boondoggle Continues

While Texas is on fire because of COVID-19 and Greg Abbott’s policies surrounding COVID-19, Abbott continues his border boondoggle, throwing money and resources at an issue which requires nuance and creativity to mitigate–mostly, at the federal level. Abbott has never been nuanced nor creative, he’s just wasteful and a monster.

The Texas Trib’s Uriel Garcia wrote a lengthy report about the various sides and various demands advocates and blamers are seeking from Greg Abbott.

The DPS officials told Pimentel that once Abbott’s order went into effect, troopers would constantly watch Catholic Charities’ shelter in McAllen, the largest in the area for migrants seeking asylum in the U.S., according to a brief the shelter filed in court as part of a federal lawsuit against the governor.

If troopers saw shelter employees and volunteers transporting migrants, they would pull over and impound the vehicle, the director told Avilés and Pimentel, the shelter’s executive director.

In the court documents, Pimentel said if the shelter couldn’t transport migrants to the nearby airport or a hotel, the shelter would become overcrowded — and increase the risk of COVID-19 if staff could not transport infected migrants to a hotel to be isolated.

“We would have to turn away mothers and babies who are seeking temporary shelter, food, and medical assistance,” she said. “If we cannot provide humanitarian aid, it is my understanding that these families would likely be left to their own devices on the street, without access to food, shelter and medical care.”

Yes, the DPS is Abbott’s gestapo, going door-to-door harrassing human rights groups who are simply helping migrants seeking asylum and escaping violence and poverty. Unfortunately, the Texas Lege has consistently funded his anti-immigrant campaigns of waste with little opposition from Lege Democrats, nor from progressive groups not related to migrant rights groups.

I guess it’s just one of those issues that liberals feel will inevitably pass, so why fight it?

Anyway, Abbott is still collecting for a gofundme wall, while local governments are waking up to the reality of Abbott’s priorities: It’s all about politics.

Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez, who has criticized both the Biden administration and Abbott for how they’ve handled immigration, said the governor’s approach gives a “false portrayal” that the problem is illegal immigration, when in reality, the problem is not having resources to help asylum-seeking migrants who are following a legal immigration process.

Cortez said a wall or more state troopers on the border wouldn’t stop migrants from seeking asylum. The Valley needs resources to help asylum-seekers be processed in a more humane and practical way, he said, rather than packing them into overcrowded shelters and the processing center at the Anzalduas Bridge.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much lobbying for this at the Texas Capitol from county and local leaders. Again, instead of being proactive, they have fallen prey to Abbott’s reactionary politics, and have even joined the game of blaming migrants.

The reality is that half (probably more) of those crossing into the US are seeking asylum as families. The Trib has a good video showing some of this reality.

Meanwhile, the word is that Greg Abbott is wanting to open a second Texas state prison (TDCJ) that he is emptying out by transferring inmates to other prisons in South Texas for the purpose of jailing migrants who have allegedly trespassed on private land while trekking through South Texas. But the first jail is hardly filled.

Reminder: The inmates are arrested by Abbott’s gestapo, tried, and convicted of a misdemeanor with minimal due process, then jailed at a former state prison. By the time all of this is done, they have either done time served or completed their sentences. Once completed, they are kept in the prison until ICE picks them up, if they even decide to pick them up. Those that aren’t are released by Abbott. And then things like this happen.

Last month, Antonio fled Venezuela with his father to seek asylum in the United States, saying he feared violent political persecution. He ended up in a Texas prison for weeks, accused of trespassing on private property after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in Del Rio.

The 18-year-old was one of the first arrested under Gov. Greg Abbott’s new “catch-and-jail” policy to lock up migrants on state criminal charges instead of referring them to federal authorities. He was also one of the first released, after prosecutors realized state police had, against orders, separated him from his father to make the arrest.

Once Antonio was out of the prison, it quickly became clear that local, state and federal officials had no idea what to do with him. Stuck in a bureaucratic limbo, he ended up at the home of his court-appointed defense attorney for days.

It gets worse.

“It really points to the fundamental problem with state law enforcement attempting to engage with immigration enforcement,” said Kate Huddleston, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas. “What we see here is the state interfering in that process … that now makes it difficult for someone seeking asylum to go through the process as intended and move quickly out of the border region.”

Antonio was released from prison last week after Val Verde County’s misdemeanor-level prosecutor dropped the trespassing charge at his first court hearing because state troopers aren’t supposed to separate families under Abbott’s arrest orders.

But days later, Antonio was still trapped in Del Rio without a path to begin the asylum process or reunite with his father, who was awaiting his own asylum hearing in Florida.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which often takes immigrants from the state system to begin deportation proceedings, wasn’t interested in Antonio because he had no criminal conviction on his record, according to the county sheriff. And U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which processes asylum-seekers after they are apprehended at the border, declined to take on someone who’d already been in the state system. Neither federal agency responded to questions this week about Antonio.

Seriously, Abbott, DPS, local Barnie Fifes, nor the National Guard have no business doing immigration work–any of it. I hope Democrats who have returned to the Special Session will push back on Abbott when his Special Session demand for more border money is discussed.

Thank You, Texas House Dems

Beto O’Rourke said it best:

Obviously, a lot of the rank and file in the Party are upset at State Reps Walle, Hernandez, and Coleman (and the others who returned previously) for showing up on the floor of the Texas House yesterday, thus, giving the House a quorum.

During these last 38 days of the Democratic exodus to DC, they lobbied President Biden, VP Harris, Leader Pelosi, and especially the hard-headed right-wing Senate Democrats who refuse to budge on voting rights and filibuster reform.

Throughout this time, they also visited, they zoomed, they even did the work of their respective districts with the help of their staffs at home. A couple even took a vacation outside of the country (the rank and file didn’t complain about them). And also, that trip-up with the beer selfie at the beginning certainly annoyed me. Then, there was the COVID-19 outbreak, which showed us that vaccinated people SHOULD NOT be posing for unmasked large group selfies. For the most part, though, it was productive.

For me, the best part was State Senator Carol Alvarado’s filibuster, which actually happened in Austin.

But a protest that costs thousands of dollars per day for 50+ people is unsustainable. And I knew that as soon as I got the first e-mail asking for hotel and food money from a State Rep.

The only failure: A Democratic Congress and a Democratic President did nothing in the form of passing and then signing the For The People Act or the John Lewis Act. The appearance of bipartisanship for the infrastructure bill was more important to those in power, rather than showing some guts and passing at the very least a strong voting rights bill.

Wheres the outrage?

As has been the case historically, “Hurry up and wait!” won the battle. But the things that must be pushed through, even without republicans: voting rights, immigration reform, medicare for all (health care expansion), and expanded federal investment in needed programs, etc., are still sitting in the inbox because of right wing Democrats.

Where’s the outrage?

Don’t get me wrong, returning to the Texas Capitol means a lot more than a bigoted voter suppression bill passing. Greg Abbott has a longer list, now, of bigoted, anti-woman, anti-trans, child abusive, awful items which will surely pass. But I won’t be petty and blame those who returned because the numbers were never there to stop it in the first place. The target should always be the Republicans and those Democrats who support Abbott’s bills.

Ultimately, Texas House Democrats were in DC to lobby against voter suppression and for voting rights. For many, the stoppage of the other special session items were automatically included as a reason for the exodus. But TX House Dems were in DC with one purpose because without voting rights, the rest doesn’t matter. Voter suppression in Texas will solidify Republican seats and the damage to our state will continue.

And DC Dems didn’t budge. People easily forget that it was Joe Biden’s administration who has gone so far as to say that we need to win by working harder to turnout the vote despite voter suppression.

Where is the outrage?

So, who has really given up the fight? Frankly, I’m more demoralized by the Democratic majority and Biden administration who had this amazing opportunity to ride the voting rights train because some rogue Dems from a red state stood up to a bigoted governor. And it didn’t happen.

I know I’m outraged.

I join in thanking Texas House Democrats for taking this fight as far as it could go. I just wish the Democratic Congressional majority and Biden White House which the entire country worked so hard to create (again) would do their job.

Kuff has more, including a mention about a voting rights bill Joe Manchin might support.

What is to come from returning to Austin? Probably a lot of hurt and even more anger toward a few. But, let’s face it, we’ve been heading down this Republican-led road since the 90s and Democrats have been mostly in denial about it thinking they could negotiate the bigotry down during each Lege session. Well, Republicans are no longer interested in doing that.

SCOTx Ruling Affects Dallas and Bexar Mask Mandates

That’s right, the Texas Supreme Court decided to temporarily stop the mask mandates put forth by these two counties while it hears arguments from each side. School districts and other entities were not affected by this decision if their school boards and superintendents issued mask mandates for their students.

The responses coming from Attorney General Paxton and Greg Abbott show some ineptness (AG), as well as fear of a Texan revolt (Abbott).

“Let this ruling serve as a reminder to all ISDs and Local officials that the Governor’s order stands,” Paxton said in a tweet on Sunday after the ruling.

Abbott’s response to the decision was less pointed, specifying that his executive order does not prohibit mask-wearing.

“Anyone who wants to wear a masks can do so,” Abbott said in a tweet.

But some of the local officials who defied Abbott’s order said they’ll continue to fight.

Local leaders who are standing up to Greg Abbott will continue the fight. While Abbott and the republicans have politicized and monetized the pandemic for their own benefit, the leaders who are fighting back are doing it for all of the right reasons.

“We won’t stop working with parents, doctors, schools, business [and] others to protect you,” Dallas County Judge Jenkins said.

Fueled by the highly-contagious delta variant, hospitalizations have increased across the state at a pace quicker than any other point during the pandemic. Less than half of the state’s population is fully vaccinated.

Ultimately, the people of Texas must stand up for their themselves and defy Greg Abbott: Vaccinate! Wear a mask! Keep social distance! Stop mass gatherings! And keep clean! Some of us are watching which “leaders” are acting like fools and kissing up to Abbott.

Meanwhile, let’s keep an eye on these court decisions.

Thanks to State Senator Alvarado

State Senator Carol Alvarado gave all Democrats who believe in the right to vote a shot of much needed ánimo when she stood up and spoke against Greg Abbott’s voter suppression bill.

Unable to take bathroom breaks or drink water, she had worn a back brace, eyeglasses and running shoes and talked slowly behind a desk stacked with papers and with a microphone in her hand as she mounted a 15-hour filibuster. The target of her efforts was Senate Bill 1, the GOP’s priority bill that would place new restrictions on voting that many opponents say would disproportionately suppress ballots from voters of color and disabled voters.

With 20+ days left in this second forced special hate session put on by Greg Abbott, the intent was not to kill the bill, but to increase public awareness about voter suppression. While Texas House members continue to boycott these special sessions for the purpose of stopping for the third time Abbott’s long list of bigoted bills, it was good to see the Senator do something equally bold.

The only thing that is left to happen is for the Democratic majority in the US Congress to stop pretending bipartisanship exists and push through a federal voting rights bill that supercedes state governments who are intent on violating Americans’ voting rights in various states. But thanks to right-wing Democrats, much of the Biden agenda is in peril.

Texas Lege Democrats have delivered their point to Greg Abbott, Republicans, to Democrats in DC, and to the general public. It is time for Biden and the Democratic majority in DC to deliver a just result.

Meanwhile, the Texas House now has civil arrest warrants out for the Texas House Democrats and have deputized the DPS to arrest them and take them back to Austin. Does give one a mental picture of Headly Lamarr swearing-in his “deputies” in Blazing Saddles.

Fact-Checking the Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric

Whether it’s Greg Abbott (and Republicans, generally) blaming migrants for COVID-19, or the Biden Adminsitration continuing a Trump deportation policy because of COVID-19, or the Trumper Mayor of McAllen joining in, or now, a Democratic State Senator from the RGV also doing the same, along with Democratic law enforcement all over South Texas who are just seeking free money for toys and overtime pay, the bottom line is that they are full of BS.

John-Michael Torres, of the humanitarian group La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) in the Rio Grande Valley, penned an op-ed in the Rio Grande Guardian detailing actual facts about migrants entering the US seeking asylum.

Some of the highlights:

  • People seeking asylum at the border and who pass credible fear interviews and are permitted to proceed with their asylum cases in the US are the most tested and vaccinated population in Texas. The latest available numbers (page 44 of this court filing) show released migrants continue to test positive at a lower rate than Texas’s statewide rate.
  • Those migrants who need to be vaccinated are volunteering to get them from local public health officials — 90% vaccination rates in one of the largest Texas shelters — and those who require quarantine are being quarantined in shelters and hotels, per CDC guidelines. Records from the Holdings Institute, the primary shelter in Laredo, show nine out of ten of migrants volunteer to receive the vaccine (pages 43-44 of this court filing). In contrast, Texas’ general population has a disappointingly low vaccination rate: just 44%.
  • Migrants at the border in Texas make up a tiny percentage of those who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Texas, a state with low vaccination rates.

Here’s another one:

Texas COVID-19 positivity rate has increased, jumping to 16.9% as of July 31. That is after Governor Abbott lifted all restrictions — including mask mandates and local governments’ ability to impose their own restrictions. The state’s vaccination rate continues to lag behind the national average.

It’s sad that Democrats are joining in on the anti-immigrant whining and rhetoric considering many South Texas counties are among the least vaccinated in Texas because of Greg Abbott. It is political laziness on their part and being on the same side as our bigot governor does not help the overall cause. Instead of being educative of their constituents, they fall for the anti-immigrant whining and join in. All these years in office, some of these Democrats have become furniture that needs replacing.

Divide and conquer tactics have always been around. The tactic was effective when done by Democrats in the 70s and now when Greg Abbott is calling the plays. Appeasing racists is never a good thing.

Jessica Cisneros Announces for TX-28

After an impressive grassroots campaign in 2020 to unseat a long-time incumbent, Jessica Cisneros announced this week that she will once again challenge Henry Cuellar in Congressional District 28 in the 2022 Democratic primary in. I’m rooting for Jessica, an immigration and human rights attorney working in border communities, who released this powerful campaign video.

No doubt, Cuellar will pull out all the stops, raise corporate and special interest PAC money, and even get the help of Nancy Pelosi, who will fail again at getting much in return from Cuellar on Democratic issues. It’s time for change and Cisneros offers a voice to lead that change in DC.

Anyway, follow Jessica’s campaign on Facebook and Twitter, and donate to her campaign.

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.