Category Archives: Sensible Immigration Reform

Reviewing the DNCC – Day 2

Well, Day 2 was a lot more palatable.

It was good seeing Texas folks in some of the coverage, including Congresswoman Veronica Escobar of El Paso and State Rep. Victoria Neave of the Dallas area–both early Biden endorsers.

Although I wish Stacey Abrams had spoken longer, I liked Senator Chuck Schumer’s speech as it highlighted what Joe Biden is offering the people, which I think needs to be pounded into the brain of voters. Bill Clinton delivered some good lines that stabbed at the failure that is Trump. The heartstrings were pulled with Jimmy and Roselynn Carter’s speech, perhaps because of my own family memories of watching the DNCC, or the fact that they are up in years, now.

I was not too thrilled with the “empire” portion of the show. Bringing out military and intelligence folks to buttress the US’s drive for world domination, but in a kinder, gentler way, is not my thing.

Much like Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez stated in her nominating speech of Bernie Sanders, I, too, was hoping for a different kind of foreign policy in 2020 that only Senator Bernie Sanders offered. Unfortunately, Democrats have this need to prove toughness during convention time, rather than promote peace between nations that should be our allies, if the poor and indigenous were not looked down upon by US interests backed up by the US military. These policies pushed by both parties, which are anti-democratic and labor-exploitive must end, or else, the challenges of violence-based, climate-based and economic-based migration will continue.

Joe Biden will keep the US war machine well-oiled and funded when our priorities should be elsewhere during this pandemic, or else the Lincoln Project wouldn’t be so supportive. And he will likely continue US-Latin America policy that has been detrimental to the poor and indigenous of those nations, while supporting right-wing regimes who allow foreign corporations to exploit their natural resources and workers. I mean, ask anyone which Latin American countries have the most mass graves, missing and dead climate and political activists and it will be nations led by right-wing monsters supported by the US.

Thankfully, Dr. Jill Biden saved the day with her presentation. It’s obvious that she would be a first lady who would be proactive and kind, rather than dead inside. No doubt the story of Joe and Jill Biden offers some humanity, rather than the current “blooper reel.”

I think the favorite part was the roll call of states who announced their delegate totals. My favorites were North Dakota and New Mexico, which featured Natives and Chicanos. Somos Indios, cabrones!

And for those that freaked out over Sanders being nominated, that’s all part of the rules and convention process. Those of us who voted for Sanders gave him enough delegates to qualify for nomination, thus, AOC and the UAW guy were asked to give the nominating speeches. Don’t worry, I blame those at the DNC who fail to explain the process for those watching because they think you’re ordinary voters who won’t bother to watch democracy in action.

By the way, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the nominees, officially.

Anyway, let’s see what Day 3 offers.

The Noticeable Lack of Latinos at the Dem Convention

There’s a lot of talk among the brown masses about the lack of brown faces at this week’s national Democratic convention, which will formally nominate Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to be the top of the ticket for 2020.

The latest list of brown faces on a shortened 2-hour per day program, includes:  Senator Catherine Cortez-Masto (Nevada); Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY); Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM); and an article by Adrian Carrasquillo mentions early Biden endorser Congressman Filemon Vela (TX) who will be pre-recorded.

Let’s face it. Showcasing our best is not just about selling Biden, but also about giving Latino leaders a national spotlight to show us as more than just leaders of Latinos, and as people who can run a country.

The same article also gives reasons for the lack of brown faces:  Not enough time in the program; they don’t want too many elected officials speaking; and there were not enough early brown-faced Biden endorsers (Julian Castro and others didn’t endorse Biden until June). One former Obama brown person stated:

“At the end of the day, the convention is for party insiders, and in the times of COVID, I question the number of ordinary people who are paying attention and tuning in,” Stephanie Valencia said. What will move voters instead is the kind of field, television, digital and radio program the campaign has invested in, she added.

I think my “ordinary” Chicano parents just turned over in their graves, and not just because Republican John Kasich is on the list of speakers.

Frankly, I’m not too trusting of Democratic messaging for Latinos. In Florida, Biden will again (as Hillary did in 2016) run attack ads against dead Latin American presidents and other Latin American countries with democratically-elected leftist leaders who support things like universal health care and public education, while the other states will be reminded of Obama and DACA–and that’s about it. At least that’s my guess. But at this point, it seems that the excitement of Biden’s Latino agenda has sort of stalled because of the lack of brown faces at the convention. I’m thinking Biden and the DNC didn’t want things like “Abolish ICE” to be said too many times to a national audience.

So, it’s back to pointing fingers at Trump as a means of convincing brown folks to vote for Biden. But, as I’ve stated before, if Biden wants to win big, he needs to portray himself as more than the next guy brown people will be protesting.

The reality is that we won’t be seeing too much complaining from those brown faces considered “high-profile.” They are either getting support for their PACs to help regional campaigns, they don’t want to be brownballed by the DNC and state parties, and/or they are hoping for a job.

Seriously, though, nothing surprises me anymore.

 

 

 

Biden States Case For Latino Support

credit: Alamy

Joe Biden stated his case for the Latino electorate with a lengthy article stating where he stands on issues affecting Latinos.

President Trump’s assault on Latino dignity started on the very first day of his campaign. His assault doesn’t just reveal itself in the betrayal of the Dreamers or in the pardoning of a sheriff who has terrorized the Latino community. It’s in the underfunding of schools, in attacks on labor and the ability of workers to bargain for their worth, and in the neglect of Puerto Ricans after Hurricane Maria. Trump’s strategy is to sow division — to cast out Latinos as being less than fully American.

Generally, he promised the following.

Biden will:

  • Invest in Latinos’ economic mobility.

  • Make far-reaching investments in ending health disparities by race.

  • Expand access to high-quality education and tackle racial inequity in our education system.

  • Combat hate crimes and gun violence.

  • Secure our values as a nation of immigrants.

Specifically, he talked about supporting a Latino museum at the Smithsonian and political appointees to his administration that will look like America. Included is a promise to expand Latino small business opportunities and jobs creation through infrastructure development. Within this, improving the treatment of workers and expanding worker protection is on his to-do list. To support Latino families, he would address lack of access to child care for essential workers and early education. Expanding Latino homeownership is on his list, too.

One important part of his plan is expanding access to health care through a public option for health insurance and ACA subsidies to make Obamacare more affordable. Most importantly, addressing the inequality experienced by the Latino community that block their access to health care. It’s not Medicare-for-all, but given his primary campaign, I didn’t expect it. Given how COVID-19 has exposed the weaknesses in health care and insurance, it should still be discussed.

In the realm of higher education, Biden is committed to increasing college graduation rates, tuition-free higher education including 2-year workforce programs, increased access to student financial aid, student debt forgiveness, investing in Hispanic-Serving Institutions, bringing HSI and HBCUs into high-tech research, among other commitments.

Pointing to Trump’s anti-immigrant nature, Biden promises to send an immigration bill to Congress on Day 1 which will modernize the immigration system and include a roadmap to citizenship for 11 million undocumented residents of the US.

On the detention side, Biden promises to decrease its use, passing on the case management responsibility to nonprofit groups while migrants go through the system. And Biden also promises to stop Trump’s policy of caging children in favor of family reunification. [I hope they aren’t reunified in family-style prisons.] Added on is a decrease in the use of 287(g) agreements to take out local law enforcement from the equation.

Really, folks, check out this article, which includes links to his policy pronouncements on his campaign website. It’s actually better than I expected, though, we will have conversations about his Latin America policy soon enough since it doesn’t seem to be any different than what Republicans offer:  More election meddling and coups in support of right-wing, murderous regimes who care little for the poor and indigenous.

Some of you will see articles about the Orange one making a play for Latinos, too. Basically, he’ll speak to the same self-hating, anti-immigrant, bigoted brown folk (including some of our relatives) who think they’re excluded from Trump’s anti-Latino hate. For some reason, they buy into it. So, Democrats should not waste time with them, instead concentrate on increasing the bottom line with folks who want a reason to vote for Democrats.

Yes, many of us feel like we’re just voting for the next guy we’ll be protesting. For sure, we will be making Biden accountable for these promises during the campaign and once in office. And another thing, Biden cannot be a repeat of the Obama years in which access for Latino activists to the White House was controlled by elitists not involved in progressive causes. Latino activists must be part of the discussion of issues, and not just inclusive of those content with invites to the White House Cinco de Mayo event and other photo ops.

And guess what? There will be Dems (brown ones included) who will be upset for the people demanding what was promised. But tough shit. We are only exercising our right to participate and to petition our government for a redress of grievances. Trump has expanded those grievances and “going back to normal” is not an option. It must be better.

The job for everyone who wants to rid us of the Orange one is to sell what Biden is offering, and NOT what Trump is doing or saying. Dems need to stop being a free ad for the Orange one where all they do is point a finger at how bad Trump is. Biden has stated his case and Dems need to back it up when trying to earn the Latino vote.

 

DACA – It’s A Small Win

No doubt, there was a sigh of relief after the 5-4 SCOTUS decision on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals was announced. Many of my friends are less worried.

For the meantime, Trump and his minions have been told that they will have to find another way to make a declaration on DACA’s legality that would lead to its end.

As SCOTUS stated:

“We do not decide whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies. “The wisdom” of those decisions “is none of our concern.” Chenery II, 332 U. S., at 207. We address only whether the agency complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action. Here the agency failed to consider the conspicuous issues of whether to retain forbearance and what if anything to do about the hardship to DACA recipients. That dual failure raises doubts about whether the agency appreciated the scope of its discretion or exercised that discretion in a reasonable manner. The appropriate recourse is therefore to remand to DHS so that it may consider the problem anew.”

This may only further delay its demise, although, any new Trump effort to end DACA will once again be met by a challenge in the courts. This decision certainly adds to the political pressure against Trump and Republicans to do something about the entire issue (immigration and deportation reform and not just DACA), but also places pressure on Democrats who tend to get squeamish on any of these issues within the realm of immigration reform during election time.

For now, it’s still election season. As local group FIEL’s ED Cesar Espinosa stated:  “We are ecstatic that the supreme court sided on the right side of history and allowed for the DACA program to be in place for the meantime. We hope that in this interim time we are able to petition congress to come up with a permanent solution not only for DACA recipients but the immigrant community at large.”

And as various DREAMers stated at a press conference held today at FIEL, “It’s a small win,” and it is time to vote. It is time to study the candidates, find who is really on the side of DREAMers and immigrants, and vote them into office. It’s time to get beyond executive orders and actually do something.

This is not to say it’s all about politics. Much like the drive toward police reform, it’s about saving people’s lives. If politicians aren’t in it to work for the betterment of the people. then it’s just another popularity contest. Here’s a chance to do something.

There will be more on this, for sure. For now, it’s a good day.

More on the #StaceSlate

Some folks have asked me:  Why ________ (this candidate)? For most, I have my reasons. Here are a few races in which I’ve been most vocal on social media.

Bernie Sanders for President:  When it comes to US policy in Latin America, it’s Sanders that gets it. He isn’t afraid to blast US policy supported by both political parties that has been detrimental to native (indigenous) and poverty stricken communities in those countries. Certainly, Sanders doesn’t support policies that bolster the right-wing, anti-indigenous, and anti-poor wealthy class in Latin America. The class that, given the opportunity, will literally impose violence, kill and disappear their opposition as has been ignored by the US for too long . (And these are a few reasons people from these countries are fighting to come here!) The other candidates fall short. Way short. If anything, they support the status quo which tells the poor and native that their votes do not matter, even when they come out to vote in huge numbers and elect progressives to lead. It happens here, too and is one cause of low voter turnout. It is obvious that Sanders’ competition cares little for anyone else but their own political hides when it comes to talking about Latin America, preferring to talk “democracy,” without noticing that they want to impose the same kind of democracy that gave the US Trump. The Democratic Party needs to do a lot better on Latin America and it starts with Bernie Sanders leading the way.

Any opposing argument that questions his support of progressive leaders in Latin America, as well as any idiotic questioning by local elected officials as to his “Democratic” credentials is a weak attempt at red-baiting and an insult to our intelligence as voters.

Royce West for US Senate:  As I’ve stated before, if you ask me for my vote and you haven’t done anything that has hurt native or poor communities, and you have actually defended communities from awful, racist laws (SB4), chances are you will get my vote. No doubt, Christina Tzintzun Ramirez ranked up there in my choices because of her legislative leadership on these issues, but it came down to simply being asked by someone with a track record of political leadership that I trusted. Retail politics still matters in this huge state. All the other candidates fall short of having done anything on these issues that matter to me.

Roberto Alonzo for RR Commissioner:  I’ve known Roberto most of my adult life. We grew up in the same hometown. For many, he’s “un buen ejemplo” because, like many of us, he came from nothing but a loving family. And like many of us, his life was about struggle and helping those that struggled. For Roberto, serving in public office isn’t about some whim that came about after a bad election or finally speaking up after enriching oneself in an industry.  As a State Representative serving in Dallas for two decades, whatever progressive agenda he supported, and he’s been consistent in doing so, has been about helping people overcome barriers, and the poverty and struggle that come with those barriers. His years of service, which includes fighting on environmental issues, qualifies him for this post. So, this one was an easy choice.

I’ll try to write a few more of these before Tuesday. But some asked, so, there you go.

TODAY, 8/21/19: Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia Hosts Immigration Forum

From the Inbox:

HOUSTON — Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia will host an Immigration Forum TODAY, August 21st, 2019, where she will discuss immigration related legislative updates and provide information on how her office can be of service to the community as it pertains to immigration.

Several community organizations will also be in attendance. They will provide additional information about the state of immigration policy in the U.S. and talk about how their organizations can also help families who need help with immigration related matters.

MEDIA IS WELCOME TO ATTEND.

 WHEN:

Tomorrow, Wednesday, August 21st, 2019 at 6:30 PM CT

WHERE:

Magnolia Multi-Service Center, 7037 Capitol St., Houston, TX 77011, USA

WHO:

Congresswoman Sylvia R. Garcia, 29th Congressional District of Texas

Elizabeth Bille, Texas State Director, NALEO Educational Fund

Jill Campbell, Managing Immigration Attorney, BakerRipley

Cesar Espinosa, Executive Director, FIEL

Andrea Guttin, Legal Director, Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative

Rafael Pantoja, Senior Police Officer, HPD; Host of HPD Comunidad y Confianza Radio Show

Benito Juarez, Manager of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, Office of New Americans and Immigrant Communities with City of Houston

###

Congresswoman Sylvia R. Garcia was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in November 2018, becoming the first Latina ever to represent Texas 29th Congressional district.

The Day 2 Dems: We Need To Thin The Top Tier By 1

If anything has become obvious after two days of Democratic debate, it’s that most of the white dudes want to keep criminalization of border crossings and the candidates of color and women want to do away with it. And the pro-criminalization side has its king in Joe Biden.

Biden’s “back of the line,” “all border crossers are criminals” tirade set him apart from the rest of the crowd. He’s basically the Democrats’ Trump, saying what probably 1/3 of the Democratic Party think or is OK with a candidate saying because they just want to get rid of Trump and think anti-immigrant BS is the key to victory. Pro-Tip:  It’s not!

I can’t say I hate myself or a group of people enough to vote for this kind of Democrat.  Maybe that would change at the voting machine in November 2020, but I’ve been worn thin and will speak freely today. And Democrats refuse to learn from our past, even getting upset when some of us criticize previous Dem administrations. Nothing should be off-limits when we are picking the next leader of this country because we should strive for the best.

Performance-wise, I think Julian Castro did quite well, considering CNN only gave him less than 11 minutes to speak, while Back of the Line Biden got twice as much–most of it debating Kamala Harris.  But Julian proved that we Chicanos can do a lot with a little. Whether it was taking on Biden’s fear-based and gutless immigration pronouncements with a truly comprehensive plan or detailing his thoughts on a health care for all compromise, Julian was focused and coherent.

And while some will whine about Joe Biden being the target of some of the others, I think that’s a good thing. It showed us what he’d sound like in a debate with Trump, and if it didn’t scare you, then you are up in the clouds thinking he can beat Trump.

Cory Booker faired well against Biden after Biden’s attack on the town in which he was Mayor. (Why are white dudes attacking black cities and their leaders lately?) There are a few reasons Booker isn’t my favorite, but he’s quite the debater. Kamala Harris did well, too, on health care, despite attacks from the right in which scary numbers and confusion were thrown around by the mods.  Gabbard, of course, pointed out Harris’ flaws as attorney general of California, but it didn’t earn her points as much as it may have smudged Harris. Gillibrand has made a turnaround on immigration and sounded much more coherent on the issue and other issues than usual. Even DiBlasio and Yang weren’t awful.

Democrats have a decision:  Pick the right person that can take on Trump or settle for mediocrity.

I get lectured by former republicans and Dems who give money and support to “tolerable” republicans that we need to beat Trump with any sack of potatoes with a (D) by their name, but it’s early enough that we can thin the herd of basically bad people in our Party. For all the flaws that are pointed out, I think Castro, Warren, Sanders, and Harris are great candidates. Booker is OK, too.  But this round of debates proved that the mod(erate) squad, led by Biden, do nothing to increase participation of those constantly left behind in the conversation with their “no se puede” attitudes. If they don’t fire up an avid voter such as myself, then they won’t fire up the others we need. So, it’s not a bad thing, 6 months ahead of the first primary/caucus, to have some real conversations about the candidates–even picking them apart to see what they’re made of.

Happy candidate hunting! Go Julian!

 

 

A Few GOPers Weep Over Trump’s Racism

I was asked what I thought of a few Republicans who suddenly saw the racism of the Trump/GOP administration.

They didn’t say anything when the GOP was keeping children and families uninsured.

They didn’t say anything when the GOP railroaded thru some tax cuts for the rich against poor and working families.

They didn’t say anything when the GOP and Betsy DeVos cut education funding and did away with civil rights for many students.

They didn’t even say anything when Trump and his ilk were putting children and families in filthy warehouses and cages, thus enriching private jail companies.

They didn’t see the racism in Republican policies all this time. Hell, they benefited from these policies in one way or another, politically or financially.

But “Go back to your country” was really below the belt?

Spare me!

These GOPers are either hoping for forgiveness from their God, or hoping for re-election as they see well-funded opponents in their midst.

And the retired Latina judge who suddenly found God in all of this? She should go back to her country club.

Mayor Turner, Other Local Electeds Come Out Against ICE Raids

I was happy to see Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s appearance on NPR to come out against the coming Trump/ICE immigration raids.

Well, let me just say that we have repeatedly said that Houston Police Department is not ICE. We are not going to be participating with ICE on these type of raids,” said the Mayor.

Credit: JM Diaz

The raids and the rhetoric have instilled fear in the immigrant and Latino community. Hell, I’m a citizen multiple generations in and I sure as hell don’t get the warm and fuzzies that should be my birthright during times like these. In fact, Trump’s recent executive order regarding gathering citizenship information from agencies sent a chill down my spine, moreso than the census citizenship question about which he has been so adamant.

First of all, it is obvious that ICE doesn’t have a good database of people. And if Trump needs to get that information through piecemeal techniques from other agencies, it tells me that even citizens are at risk during immigration raids–or, at least the burden of proof is on any brown citizen that is targeted or detained. So, yeah, the raids instill fear beyond the immigrant community, too. Ultimately, the US Census is what should help us create a better democracy based on the number of people living here. It should not be a tool for immigration raids. Just something to think about. And as my lawyer-sister keeps reminding me, “Get your passport, ASAP!”

Other elected officials have come out against the ICE raids, including Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia, Congressman Al Green, County Judge Lina Hidalgo, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, County Commissioners Adrian Garcia and Rodney Ellis, State Senator Carol Alvarado, and State Representative Christina Morales, among others. I wish we’d see more from non-Latino electeds, though.

I was glad to see candidates running in 2019 City of Houston races also come out against the raids, including Raj Salhotra for At-Large 1, Janaeya Carmouche for At-Large 3, and Ashton Woods for At-Large 5, and Isabel Longoria for District H, while also distributing pertinent information on the rights of immigrants.

The public response to the raids, baby jails, inhumane conditions at concentration camps, and the reality of a racist and gestapo-like Border Patrol continues to grow. Hundreds showed to a protest at the 419 Emancipation baby jail on Friday, 7/12. I know of a large group heading to Carrizo Springs, TX to protest a new baby jail (a former oilfield camp under the Texas sun) that just opened. And there are actions across the state and country.

Stay tuned!

 

 

 

Julian Castro Continues To Impress in Houston

First of all, thanks to the Harris County Democratic Party for inviting presidential candidates to Houston so that Democratic voters can get a closer look at them. In the case of Julian Castro, he impressed from arrival to exit.

Entering a packed St. John’s Downtown to Selena’s Baila Esta Cumbia, Castro showed that his campaign is indeed connecting with voters and much of the interest is owed to his debate performance. No, not because he schooled some of his opponents on immigration reform, but because his delivery on a variety of issues was strong and to the point. Castro has brought the issues of policing, housing, and education to the forefront, and he expects to release a plan on climate change soon. And we must keep listening.

Check out the video!

Yet, I would venture to say that if it were not for Castro’s bold immigration reform plan, the campaigns would not be responding to the issue as strongly as they have been. While the current wave of anger toward the Trump administration is because of children in cages, awful prison conditions, and a racist, inhumane Border Patrol, Castro has pointed to a broken system beyond asylum seekers and the easier platform point of DREAMers. Getting to the root cause as to why people are coming to the US is something that hadn’t been spoken of since Bill Richardson ran for President in 2008; in Castro’s case, a proposal for a Marshall Plan to bolster those countries whose citizens are suffering through bad economies, bad right-wing regimes, and government- and gang-led violence.

I hope that we will hear more about Latin America policy from the candidates. Let’s face it, much of the cause of Latin America’s issues is US intervention in democratic elections, including a coup in Honduras during the Obama administration because they didn’t like the progressive-minded guy who won. We’re talking hard truths that Democrats must swallow if they really want to move toward fixing a problem, rather than putting a band-aid on it and ignoring it for two terms.

Check out the video

This said, I’m glad Julian Castro is on the debate stage. He’s brought a Mexican American point of view to American politics that has gone ignored for too long. Castro offers his rich political and family history that America has neglected to embrace and he just happens to show off his abilities to talk domestic and foreign policy in a manner that doesn’t sound like “inside baseball.” So, let’s all of us keep listening. We may just learn something.